Technology: Social impact
Technology: Social impact
James Cooke delves into video analytics, as well as the metrics for social media posting in general. What do the numbers tell us?
It seems that almost any website you visit these days, including those for houses of worship, feature those familiar icons – a bird, the letter f, the outline of a Polaroid-style camera – that link to the organisation’s various social media pages, and with good reason. Social media has become as mainstream as radio and television in the last decade – perhaps even surpassing those forms of media in some circles. Whereas the concept was more of a novelty when it first started in the early 2000s with the likes of MySpace and Bebo serving more as online hangouts for teenagers, the major platforms of today are used by an ever-growing, varied demographic. The odds are that your mum is on Facebook these days.
For those wondering, MySpace is still running. Bebo is something else altogether.
A major cause for the widespread adoption of social media is the evolution of technology. A decade ago, the majority of us would likely have had to sit down at a computer to take a look at Facebook or Twitter via a web browser. Now, our smartphones often come pre-programmed with dedicated apps for each of those platforms, which highlights how widespread their use is in today’s society.
The very same advances in technology have also enabled each and every one of us to become published content creators. Houses of worship have never been shy when it comes to broadcasting their message – preaching comes with the territory, after all – and have taken to streaming services like a moth to an LED moving spotlight. While, in years gone by, only those with a large enough budget could broadcast their sermons via a cable or satellite television channel, any house of worship technician with access to a smartphone can now stream content live, or record it for a later, perhaps edited VOD (video on demand) post to any number of services, including Facebook and YouTube, which are free to use.
So, you post a video of a service or an event, or maybe even a short message from a worship leader or musical performance, then what happens? As Facebook and YouTube are two of the more popular free-to-use platforms for both creators and viewers alike, we’re going to focus on them in this article. It is worth noting that videos posted to either of these services can also be embedded into your HOW’s website with relative ease, negating the need for investing in expensive servers to store video content or paying for a specialist CDN (content delivery network).
If your video was posted to Facebook, you’ll easily be able to keep track of the likes, shares and comments by simply checking your notifications. Not only is all of this information available at a glance should you scroll down to the post in question but, if you are indeed logged in as an administrator for your HOW’s page, you’ll also see how many views the video has had.
The stats don’t end there though. If you wish to delve deeper, click on the Insights tab at the top of the HOW’s Facebook page. Here, you’ll not only find data for video, but for every post made on the HOW’s page.
If you’re viewing this on a computer, there will be a menu down the left-hand side, directing you to more detailed insights into how your content is performing on the site. You can check out breakdowns of your followers, examine where your likes are coming from and see how far your posts are reaching, as well as page views, actions taken by visitors and more. Passed all of this, you can look into individual posts, videos and stories.
By selecting the option for videos, you are immediately met with the metrics from your page’s videos over the last seven days. This tells you how many minutes the videos on your page have been viewed for (and whether this is higher or lower than last week’s viewing figures) and how many individual video views you’ve had from Facebook users who have watched for more than three seconds. This information is followed by a list of the top 10 most watched videos on your page during the previous week.
Do note that everything taken into account doesn’t just include videos that have been published within the past seven days, but counts views for all videos ever published to your page. The seven days refers to the views from your Facebook followers and can be adjusted to just today or yesterday, the last 14 or 28 days, this month or quarter, or a custom period of time.
By clicking on Posts, you are able to see which days and times are busiest in terms of your followers surfing Facebook and being exposed to your content. You can compare the different types of posts your page has made – videos, links, photos – and see which gain the best reach and, on average, engage with users enough for them to interact with it. This also provides a snapshot of which particular posts have proven more or less popular with followers.
Why does this matter?
These insights help to save time and effort in producing content that perhaps isn’t relevant to or clicking with your audience, especially for video. Without taking note of these insights, you could wind up blindly producing video content that nobody bothers to watch. What’s worse is that your followers may stop pausing to check out your posts while scrolling through their feed if they don’t feel your content is relevant – perhaps they’ll even take the drastic move to stop following altogether.
In addition to showing you which posts are popular – and therefore, what to give your audience more of – and which to ditch, the statistics available also enable you to optimise your views. By seeing when the majority of your followers tend to be online, you can choose to post new content at the same time, hopefully ensuring more eyes on the prize.
Within the Insights tab, you can also select People from the side-menu. This provides a roundup and breakdown of your page’s followers. You can see which percentage are men or women, what age bracket they all fit into, where they’re from and what language they speak. This is all useful information for potentially steering your house of worship’s creative direction.
YouTube is, of course, made for video. It’s arguably the most reliable platform on which to share video content for free and is easily accessible by viewers around the world on almost any type of device with a screen.
From you profile page – My Channel – you can access YouTube Studio, which at the time of writing is in beta testing. The Studio section is where you go to upload a new video when browsing on a computer. It is also where you can find an archive of your channel’s previous uploads, as well as analytics.
The analytics work in much the same way as on Facebook, although are laid out in a much easier-to-read manner. The overview provides a rundown of minutes watched during the course of the time period you select, as well as the number of video views and subscribers. Below this, you’ll find a list of your page’s top performing videos and the latest activity.
Beside the Overview tab at the top of the screen are tabs for Reach Viewers, Interest Viewers and Build An Audience. Reach Viewers showcases impressions (how many times your video’s thumbnail was seen by a potential viewer on YouTube), the click-through rate (how many actually clicked on the thumbnail when they saw it), number of views and how many unique viewers your video received. Scrolling down will show you more information on the traffic your channel and videos is receiving. Interest Viewers ranks your content in a variety of ways to show how much interest the viewer has had – for example, you can see how many people clicked onto the next video once reaching the end of another. Finally, Build An Audience provides all the information you need to hone your content in on who’s actually watching by breaking down your demographics for age, gender, location and language.
Let the credits roll
In summary, wherever your HOW posts its videos and other social media content, remember to take a look at the analytics every now and again, particularly if you try something new, to gauge audience reaction. When a praise band performs to a live crowd, the applause immediately after the performance offers instant feedback; analytics are the online equivalent. And remember, it’s not just Facebook and YouTube that allow you to look at the stats, as any paid-for CDN will provide similar data, as do other social media formats, including Instagram, Snapchat and wherever else the kids are posting selfies to these days.
While it’s great to see whether a new style of content has gone down a treat, or that your followers have grown bored of a series you were running, or whether there’s a need for more content driven towards 35- to 45-year-old women, remember to not get too bogged down by the numbers. It can be easy to fall into a trap of looking through the stats every day to the point it has a negative effect on creativity. Sometimes the numbers will be down and this could be due to any number of reasons. There will always be anomalies to buck the trends. And just because a certain type of content does well on a regular basis, don’t allow it to let you become complacent – in this fact-paced, interconnected world, people always want to see something new.
This article was first published in the March-April 2019 edition of Worship AVL. Subscribe at www.proavl-central.com/subscribe/worship