tracking digital data with my knitting
Hey everyone! This past week has been a nightshift shawl frenzy and I’ve been loving every minute of it. As a knitter who is obsessed with learning more about the digital world, this week has scratched both of those spots for me! This post is a little different from my normal knitting and crocheting content, but this topic is something that I enjoy, so I wanted to share.
This past January, I posted a photo on instagram of my progress on my nightshift shawl, and it received more likes than any other post I had ever shared at 370+ likes! I was astonished. During these past two weeks, I decided to do an experiment on my instagram; I posted only photos of my nightshift shawl, in various arrangements and stages of completion, to see if that January post was a fluke or if my nightshift shawl really did gain that much traffic. I gained a lot of insight from this experiment, and as someone who is trying to grow their social media presence as an independent blogger, tracking this data is essential to my work. I also learned a lot about Ravelry and popular designers/patterns – and how those transfer into digital traffic on Instagram – so I’ll break that down here, too.
First, let’s talk about my recent posts and how each photo performed.
I posted these four photos, in this order (from left to right):
The first image, which we will dub a “mid-way flat lay,” earned 184 likes, reached 3,304 accounts, and got 4 website taps. The second image, let’s call it an “up close color dose,” gained 133 likes, reached 2,395 accounts, and got 1 website tap. The third photo, called my “styled and staged,” only saw 31 likes, reached 103 accounts, and got 0 website taps. Finally, the fourth photo, which we will name “unwrapped with plants,” gained the most likes of the four, with 189 likes, reaching 3,131 accounts, and gaining 7 website taps.
For reference, the above photo is the photo from my January post. I do not have the data for this post because I enabled insights on my account after this was posted, so I only have likes to record. This photo took very little time to arrange, take, and edit. I tagged it with my usual tags: pattern designer, yarn, yarn content, pattern name and variations, as well as common tags that I put on most of my posts like “addicted to knitting” and “knitters of Instagram” etc.
Some other background information to keep in mind:
- Most of my other posts get between 15-30 likes
- I did not keep posting time constant. Some of these four photos I shared in the morning, others in the afternoon.
- Bilingwool’s Instagram account has 118 followers now, but started this experiment somewhere in the 101-105 range.
Now, let’s break down each of my four posts from the last week to see if there are any trends.
Mid-Way Flat Lay
Likes: 184 Reach: 3,304 Website Traffic: 4
I posted this photo on Tuesday May 25th. Four people commented, and I tagged it with my usual batch of hashtags. (Tagging it with hashtags allows people who follow those hashtags to see this post. For example, I follow #nightshiftshawl, so my Instagram feed will show me any posts that get tagged with #nightshiftshawl.)
This photo displays the shawl and its color story, as well as some of the yarn I am using. My reference photo from January is very similar to this photo; both display the yarn I’m using as well as my progress so far. So why did this photo receive a little more than half the likes my original photo did? Here are my guesses:
As we will discover later, the more spread out and zoomed out this shawl is in the photo, the better that photo performs. This shawl is all about the color story and mosaic style of knitting that builds such texture and visual interest. Displaying the best parts of this shawl brings the most traffic to it. Think about it this way, knitters: if you knit a sweater and wanted to share it with your friends, you wouldn’t share all about the underarm shaping or the rows upon rows of stockinette stitch, you’d share about the design elements that make that sweater unique, whether it be colorwork patterns, lace motifs, the yarn you used, and so on. That piece of common sense directly applies to my little nightshift experiment; the unique quality of this project is the textures and colors that are at play together. Capturing that is what any viewer, knitters and non-knitters alike, will be attracted to, thus increasing the number of likes.
This photo performed well because of its ability to highlight the colors and textures at play in my shawl. So, I hypothesized that I needed to zoom in, and really focus in on the colors and textures in this shawl for my next post, to get higher engagement.
Up Close Color Dose
Likes: 133 Reach 2,395 Website Traffic: 1
I shared this photo on Thursday, May 27th. Three people commented and I tagged it with my usual batch of hashtags, but this time, I added in some hashtags about nail art and my daisy nails! I wondered, will people still view my account from non-knitting and non-crocheting hashtags? How much traffic can I direct to a knitting account with cross-listed content? Is that even a good idea? And, as I hypothesized from my previous post, will zooming in on the essence of this shawl bring more likes?
I love this photo. The back of this shawl looks like a reflection of a sunset on the ocean, you can see my shawl actively being knit, and my daisy nails are too cute not to include. This photo makes my audience visualize what it is like to knit “Nightshift” and, more specifically, what fun it is to watch the colors and textures interact right before your eyes as you knit.
However, my hypothesis was proven wrong with this post, as it did not perform as well as the previous one, meaning that zooming out to see the entirety of the shawl is what people want to see. For my next post, I decided to adjust my initial hypothesis. I had finished my shawl and I wanted to share it in a stylized way, to give the viewer an idea of how one would wear it.
Styled and Staged
Likes: 31 Reach:103 Website Traffic: 0
This photo was posted on Saturday, May 29th, gained three comments, was tagged with my usual hashtags, and yet performed the lowest out of all four of my experimental posts. I had finally finished my shawl. I spent about an hour taking this photo, moving things around, trying new arrangements, figuring out how much of my plants to include, adjusting the shawl on the dress form. This post also announced a new blog post that I published. If any of the four of these photos did well, I wanted it to be this one, because I wanted to gain more traffic to this blog.
Here’s what went wrong: I posted this on Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend. Which, in the USA, is the unofficial start of summer, and most people are out on a boat, in a pool, or with friends and aren’t looking at Instagram. To add salt to the wound, I was still working on perfecting my hypothesis. This photo is the most zoomed out, the most conceptual, and showcases the shawl in action. I figured that showcasing how the beloved essence of this shawl performs on the person would gain significantly more traffic than it did. (Think about clothes or jewelry – items pictured on a person sell better than items on their own. It’s selling an idea that can be yours if you buy the product.) I thought I’d try my hand at “selling” the idea of wearing this beautiful pattern.
Overall, though, I’m glad I had this post to learn from, because I needed a hurdle in the road to reroute my hypothesis to its final form. For my last post, I decided to tie in all the elements I had learned so far about what a photo needs to perform well: posting on a week day (not a holiday weekend), finding the perfect mix of zooming out for the concept of the shawl but zooming in enough to capture the essence of this mosaic knitting pattern, and cross-listing it with another popular instagram hashtag group.
Unwrapped with Plants
Likes:189 Reach: 3,131 Website Traffic: 7
I shared this photo on Tuesday, June 1st and four people commented, including the brand of yarn I used (Spincycle Yarns).
I cross-listed this photo with my usual set of nightshift hashtags and added houseplant hobbyist hashtags, like #houseplantsofinstagram and #indoorplants. This post alone gained me 6 followers! I was stunned! I took what I learned from including nail art content in my Up Close Color Dose post, as well as my restructured hypothesis, and turned it into my best performing photo of my experiment. This photo showcases all the qualities that I learned from this experiment, from capturing the colors and textures at play, to posting on a business day, to including other content that helps branch out my content to include other hobbyists. On top of it all, this photo truly captures the stunningly dyed yarn and the brilliant pattern from Drea Renee Knits. This photo makes me so happy 😀
A few take-aways from this experiment:
- Even when my Styled and Staged photo didn’t perform as well as the others, Nightshift shawls gain a ton of traffic. This pattern is incredibly popular on ravelry (over 6,000 projects) and has been adapted to suit a myriad of other yarn combinations, like Noro Ito and Malabrigo Rios.
- In what seems like common sense, capturing the unique design elements of a project directly translates to post performance. I’m excited to keep this in mind for my photography going forward. And it poses a great question for designers: what makes your design unique, and how is it best showcased?
- I’m making another Nightshift shawl. How could I not!? This time, I will be picking out my yarn in person (instead of ordering online) and I will be honing my hypothesis perpetually to see how well I can do.
- Instagram likes are a great way to gain traffic to my website. With more likes comes more website taps, and more website taps is my overall goal in this experiment.
I had so much fun doing this little test, and I will be conducting another one soon, when I find my next popular pattern! Something this experiment has encouraged me to do is to learn more about what patterns are popular on ravelry and what hashtags knitters and crocheters follow the most. This is an ongoing investigation, so I will share more about this in another post. However, I’d love to hear about the most popular patterns you’ve seen on ravelry. What made them unique? Have you made one?
Thanks for coming along for the ride today. I know Instagram analytics isn’t really the most exciting for everyone, however, I think in this digital age, it’s important to stay up to date with what the trends are and what makes those trends ~trendy~!
Have a great weekend, all. Until we talk next, happy knitting!