The State of Social Media Engagement: 2024 Edition

Back in the day when Noah was first caulking up his Ark, I was on both Facebook and Twitter. They worked pretty well, until Twitter became infested with Nazis (not a problem discovered this year), and Facebook charged for access to your fans.

I gradually shut down my social media accounts as they became more obnoxious while supressing reach. When you start charging access to talk to people who want to talk to each other, you have a problem (Suck Zuck, I’m looking at you).

Last year I heard the new social media platforms were better, in a vague and unspecified way, so I wrangled myself an invite to the then invite-only Bluesky, and hopped on Threads. I posted and engaged with both a reasonable amount (more on Threads, though) over a chunk o’ time. A month or so ago, I sent this to my mailing list fans:

A friend on Threads suggested there might be a problem in the why behind engagement; basically, am I here for pure/wholesome reasons? If I’m shilling my stuff and/or not being genuine, results will be variable, right?

I think this is a great question, and allowed me to devise The Experiment™. For the experiment, we can’t rely on images showing me being either cool or hawt, as a) trendy attractive people generally do better on photoshoots and b) I’m not trendy or attractive enough to pull it off.

Enter: Dragon’s Dogma 2.

This game was doing pretty well for itself at launch, but reviews were mixed. People seemed to agree the game part was brilliant, but it was plagued with PC performance issues (BTW, try switching from DLSS to IS per my Reddit post). This gives us a topic hub with trending engagement. I put the same content on three social media platforms to test how reach happened (or, whether it happened at all). At the time, I thought I’d get decent reach on Threads, none on Bluesky, and get downvoted on Reddit (because at the time of the experiment, many people were unhappy with the PC port state, and this was a positive/supporting the game post).

I kept the post short so you’d grok it at a single scan. How’d we do?

  1. My post on Threads did not do well at all. 2 likes, at time of writing. It was crafted for success: the Thread had an animated image, didn’t take people off platform, and was a trending topic (Dragon’s Dogma that is, not the high-five thing). It didn’t do as well as I’d expected.
  2. Bluesky was basically background radiation – 1 like. This was about what I’d figured due to the platform’s lack of inherent discoverability, but was also stymied by a lack of animated GIF support (seriously, bsky, get on that).
  3. Reddit, where I expected to trend heavily negative … got 337 upvotes and stimulated what I was after – conversation and engagement. Like bsky, no image in there, but it didn’t seem to matter.

Now, I’m self-aware enough to know that follower counts matter on both Threads and Bluesky, but less so on Reddit – this is definitely a factor in this test. However, using content tags should have helped adjust for this, but didn’t. The topic is light and fun enough to have wider appeal, and while not every post should go viral, you should realistically expect to get some response from a platform you’re engaging with (or what’s the point?).

I know many people are successful at Threads and Bluesky mostly through (from my two-minute analysis 🙂) higher follower counts. I don’t really have the time to brute-force that, so I’m unlikely to get significant engagement on either platform. Reddit, OTOH, will reward me for in-the-moment time investment. My Dragon’s Dogma 2 Threads post popularity mirrors my experience on other topics, whether it’s cats, or asking about narration, game streaming, or voracious readers. The posts that do modestly well (e.g., 7 likes) are semi-random or stuffed with about a zillion keywords 🤣

So, what’s it mean? I suspect I’ll pull back my time investment in Threads and Bluesky. All in, it feels like the secret to Threads or Bluesky ‘success’ (finding people to talk to about the things of interest to you) is difficult until you solve for follower count. This is possible for sure, but requires a time investment I’m not sure should be required to talk about fucken video games.

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