Data Analytics + The "How-To" Gun Girl: A Study in Facebook Post Engagement

Data Analytics + The "How-To" Gun Girl: A Study in Facebook Post Engagement

I like to stay busy.

If you didn't know, I am finishing up my master's in Engineering Management at Duke University, plus working full-time, plus working part-time as a freelance writer and handgun safety instructor, plus I still shoot archery whenever I can, plus...I'm six months pregnant. Now that I typed it all out it sure seems like a lot. But really, day-to-day it doesn't feel that crazy. I love each thing that I get to do (especially Ginger Baby, which is the nickname I gave my baby boy bun in the oven). I feel genuinely excited to be able to do all of it, and I'm savoring things pre-baby, because every parent I know has warned me that everything changes when the kid arrives. Until that happens though, I'm busy as always!

One of my grad school classes is about Data Visualization, and I've gotten to do some really fun data analysis as part of the course. #nerdalert If you want to see what I mean, you can check out my presentations. Since I am in a low-residency masters program, I film my presentations and upload them to Youtube, and the professor shows the on-campus students the videos of each of the distance students. This particular professor put together a set of data analytics Coursera courses which you can take for free, if you are interested in seeing some of what I'm talking about. Here are the presentations I've done so far:

The real reason I brought up the topic of data analytics is that I started analyzing my social media content on Facebook. I did this using a software tool called Gephi, which specializes in the analysis of network data. There are some very cool uses of Gephi for analysis, like this one showing the social connectivity of different individuals in the American Revolution. This analysis showed that Paul Revere sat smack in the middle of several different groups of revolutionaries, which made him the perfect person to deliver messages like, say, "The British are coming!" I digress.

I found my data source via Netvizz, an app within Facebook that lets you download anonymized data for either your personal page or a page like what I have for The "How-To" Gun Girl on Facebook

I took an initial, cursory look at the data from Facebook and found that nearly half of my Facebook posts to the HTGG page are not engaging, meaning, I get 0 likes, reactions, comments, or shares on just about 50% of what I post. That's less than ideal. 

The Gephi image on the left shows all my Facebook posts from 2017, and the orange posts are the ones with just one engagement (either a like/reaction, a share, or a comment). The image on the right shows the posts with non-zero engagement, color coded by engagement level where pink is 1, blue is 2, and gray is 3 or more likes/reactions, comments, or shares. ("How-To" Gun Girl image)

The Gephi image on the left shows all my Facebook posts from 2017, and the orange posts are the ones with just one engagement (either a like/reaction, a share, or a comment). The image on the right shows the posts with non-zero engagement, color coded by engagement level where pink is 1, blue is 2, and gray is 3 or more likes/reactions, comments, or shares. ("How-To" Gun Girl image)

The main reason I started this blog (and the accompanying Facebook and Instagram pages) was to share knowledge and passion for the shooting sports with people. I love connecting with likeminded folks, and I thoroughly enjoy helping people find the information they need to feel more confident in pursuing shooting sports and hunting. If what I do encourages people, then I did my job well. Since I have so much else going on in my life, I want to make effective use of my time. Which is to say, I don't want to write un-engaging Facebook posts. Ain't nobody got time for that.

Looking at the data, it is obvious that there are a couple Facebook posts that got some traction, namely my archery trick shot baby gender reveal Facebook Live video and the video I did in preparation for the gender reveal. Comparing these posts to all others with non-zero engagement (which, remember, is only about 50% of all posts) got me a graph that looks like this one, where the ginormous dot in the center is the gender reveal post sized by page rank (popularity). 

The Gephi image showing page rank (aka popularity) of all Facebook posts in calendar year 2017, with each circle representing a post and the size scaled by page rank. ("How-To" Gun Girl image)

The Gephi image showing page rank (aka popularity) of all Facebook posts in calendar year 2017, with each circle representing a post and the size scaled by page rank. ("How-To" Gun Girl image)

In general, posts that I generated were more popular than something I shared from another page. This included photos and text as well as videos. In general I've been sharing from other sites roughly 2 - 3 times a day and posting something I generated once a day. So it goes to say that not everything I share from another page is popular. For more analysis, here's the video I created to present my initial findings.

I can do better. Both analysis-wise and in creating more engaging content on social media. For the Data Visualization course's final project, I'm planning to get data from Facebook, Instagram, and maybe even this blog and Pinterest. I will look for keywords or topics that are most engaging. Hopefully this will help me use my time better and help me create content that more people care about. And whatever I find out, I'll share on this blog.

So keep an eye out for more engaging social media content from yours truly. If you haven't checked out my Facebook page, please do! Let me know what you like and don't like, and what you'd love to see more of. You can message me on Facebook or email me. Thanks in advance! 

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How-To: Archery-Themed Baby Gender Reveal

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