This is it. The home stretch. As of October 31st, I’ll have submitted my final assessment of my final semester of uni. The culmination of seventeen years of schooling, done, just like that. It’s crazy to think about how much I’ve accomplished in those years, and how quickly it all seems to have passed (though not so much at the time). This semester, in particular, has just flown by. Granted, I’ve managed to keep myself busy throughout lockdown (hitting our 100th consecutive day at home earlier this week), though it still seems way too early to be Week 10 (did October come early this year?).
Fortunately, despite how quickly the last few weeks have gone, I feel as though this has been the most productive semester in terms of my digital artefact. As discussed in both my Pitch Presentation and Module 1 Reflection, I elected to continue my existing music blog, Listen Loud, and, despite a few rough patches along the way, have stuck with it all semester long. I did, however, implement a number of changes in the weeks between my Pitch and Beta Presentations (released earlier this week), though I’ll touch on these shortly!
While Module 1 (Thinking, Observing, Defining, Ideating) focused on the initial conception of a digital artefact, Module 2 (Prototyping, Testing, Breaking, Remaking) was all about the iterative process and the continual development of a project to maximise its effectiveness in achieving its intended goals. As I was continuing an existing project rather than starting from scratch, I already had a solid foundation to work off from previous semesters’ iterations. However, I quickly noticed several areas I felt could be further enhanced to better appeal to my audience, beginning with the types of content I was sharing.
My initial prototype consisted of my existing Listen Loud website in addition to Facebook and Instagram accounts. While I was confident in the aesthetic appeal and functionality of my platforms due to constant positive feedback from followers, friends and family, I found I was consistently receiving very little engagement and struggling to grow my platforms beyond their current follower counts. Hoping to find patterns or trends in my levels of engagement (such as a better response to particular artists, genres, themes, posting times/days, etc.), I began reporting on the success of each individual post twenty-four hours after sharing, in addition to a weekly summary of the overall performance of my content across each platform. These reports, often in addition to a brief analysis of the data, were shared on my personal Twitter account as individual threads alongside the particular article itself.
During this stage, I also increased my posting to twice per week, a result of a poll I had shared early in the semester questioning the ideal amount of content to be shared weekly. While I had hoped to see an increase in reach and engagement as a result of this change (due to extensive research which suggested more frequent posting is correlated with increased exposure and, therefore, engagement), I noticed no significant difference. I have, however, stuck to the increased frequency of posting as it allows me to further enhance my writing skills and showcase a greater collection of work. As my primary goal of my project is to build a strong portfolio of work, at least this is being achieved!
The second key piece of feedback I’d received following my pitch presentation was to dedicate more time and effort into the creation of interactive Facebook and Instagram Stories, which could be shared throughout the week to fill the gaps between articles. While I intended to implement this from the beginning, I found it was hard to find time to create content that added value to my blog while being both engaging and different to what I had already shared during the week. As my platform focus at the time was also primarily on increasing exposure and growing my following, I largely neglected the use of Stories until recently, as I’d realised my focus should instead be on promoting engagement as this would be a more accurate indicator of the appeal and relevance of my content to my audience. (While verbal or written feedback would be ideal – and significantly more reliable – no one from my audience had responded to my feedback requests, and so engagement was the best resource readily available from my target audience.)
Of the first few stories I’d posted throughout the semester, I’d received little – if any – engagement. At first, I found this to be really discouraging and an ineffective way to spend my available time and attention (cATs), though I soon began to view it as an opportunity to experiment with different styles and features. As I’ve only just begun working on designing a number of stories to put up in the following week, I haven’t yet been able to evaluate their success, though I am conscious of best practices and plan on incorporating animations, sound and interactive stickers (polls, sliders, music, questions) to encourage engagement. In the meantime, I’ve continued to share new music recommendations in my Stories featuring album covers and snippets of the song, along with post re-shares from both my own account and those of the artists Listen Loud features. A few of my recent stories have been included below.
Aside from adjustments made to my existing platforms, the biggest change to my digital artefact this semester was the addition of a Listen Loud Spotify playlist, influenced heavily by feedback I’d received from a number of individuals over the last two months. As a music blog, it seemed an obvious addition to my project as this collection of songs would be able to complement my writing while offering viewers another platform on which to interact with my brand. Additionally, Spotify users who are currently unaware of my blog could discover Listen Loud through the platform, thereby driving attention to my website and social media. Unlike my previous accounts on Twitter, Linkedin and Youtube, Spotify would be relatively easy to manage as I would only be updating the playlist once per week and would not have to consider any of the time-consuming elements associated with other platforms (such as engaging with users, scheduling posts, copywriting, etc.).
To help drive my existing audience to my Spotify playlist, I shared an announcement via Facebook and Instagram in the form of both an animated Story and feed video. Further, I embedded the playlist into my website, allowing users to access it without having to leave the platform. While I currently only have five followers on my playlist, I hope to see this number increase as I further promote it across my platforms.
Although I’m still struggling to increase my following and engagement across each of my platforms, I believe the implementation of these two strategies (a greater focus on effectively utilising Stories and the addition of a Spotify playlist) will help achieve my project goals through Breaking my previous assumptions and allowing me to reevaluate and experiment further with the way I approach my work (Remaking). As these were each proposed in my recent Beta Presentation, I’m still in the early Prototyping stage and will need to spend a considerable amount of time to accurately assess (Test) their contribution before returning to the latter half of the Module. In the same way that I have reported on the success, or lack thereof, of each of my posts and platforms each week, I plan to include data on the response to both my Stories and Spotify playlist, too. Hopefully, as a result, I’ll see a change in my project’s user engagement within the coming weeks, and have a better understanding of the content my audience wants to see.
• 5 Reasons Your Brand Needs Its Own Spotify Playlist
• Content Curation: How to Do It the Right Way (Plus Tips and Tools)
• Design Better and Faster with Rapid Prototyping
• Design Thinking: Get Started with Prototyping
• Digital Artefacts: Breaking
• Digital Artefacts: Prototyping
• Digital Artefacts: Remaking
• Digital Artefacts: Testing
• How Often Should You Post on Instagram?
• Post Frequency on Instagram Is Nonsense
• Why Brands are Turning to Spotify as the Next Big Social Platform