Social Media Research Shows Mixed Results
When people ask what we do, we often give this simple response. “We write books and tell stories in simple English.” Of course, the stories are from the Bible, and the books are about the Bible, but that nine-word sentence sums it up. However, though that sentence is simple, the process itself isn’t.
At Clear and Simple Media, while we do write books in simple English, we write the books anticipating that they will be translated. Our first book, Simple Truths, is now available in 43 languages and we have often print and distribute the book in the country where it will be used. The stories we tell have been put into print (which involves book design, printing, and distribution), but they are also available in an audio format (which requires scripting, recording, audio editing, and preparing files for distribution).
CSM also offers all of our materials at no cost in an electronic format through three different websites (clearandsimplemedia.org; asimpleword.org; hearastory.org). Each website has a social media presence through a Facebook page as well. Our social media presence is what we have been evaluating for the first half of 2018.
Early in 2018, CSM launched two Facebook ad campaigns targeting Indonesia and Bangladesh. The ads combined offers of published materials for free download and samples of video versions of the stories from our Hear A Story website (hearastory.org).
Because of high engagement in the campaigns, we decided to target other countries to see if similar campaigns would yield comparable results. We also wanted to see if these targeted campaigns were only drawing engagement on the ads themselves, or if they were leading people to engage with the materials, either by viewing Hear A Story videos or downloading Simple Truths. Our goal was to assess whether a continuing advertising presence on Facebook could give us meaningful contacts that could then lead to opportunities to engage in more significant ways.
Ads were developed to target Brazil and Japan, with follow-up ads to India and Indonesia. We discovered that in the campaigns where the Simple Truths download was offered in both English and the country’s native language(s), the response rate was low. We don’t know if this modest response was due to the audience not understanding enough of the English post, if they were disinterested in the content, or if there were other factors.
In the campaigns where video views were targeted, we had reasonable success with the audience watching a portion of the video. However, watching the video did not result in an increase in downloads of the eBooks or click-throughs to the websites. Even countries where the audience was first served a video followed by a book download offer did not increase the number of downloads.
While we did see over 95,000 engagements with these campaigns, we were unable to produce any measurable data outside of those results.
We are evaluating whether to 1) continue these ads, 2) work with a more narrowly focused and targeted demographic, or 3) delay any new ads until we can better assess the information we have collected.
What we celebrate is that information is being distributed in places where we cannot be physically present and to people that may not be exposed to these biblical truths any other way.
What we recognize is that we won’t have measurable proof of what people are doing with the information. At least, not in the immediate future.