Saturday, August 23, 2014

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Taiwan Explorer among top Taiwan centric Facebook pages

8/23/2014 Taiwan Explorer
I've recently discovered that Facebook offers page administrators a way to monitor other Facebook pages, such as their number of total likes, new likes per week, and the weekly engagement (which consists of likes, comments and shares for the past 7 days). The statistics nerd that I am, I started to monitor other pages around a month ago. It took me a while, but I think I've compiled a list of more or less all English language Facebook Pages that are sharing things related to Taiwan. I only focused on following kinds of pages: Pages of personal blogs, personal websites, non-profit organizations, and news media. I did not add pages of companies, products, commercial websites, or celebrities, my main focus was on those who genuinely like to share interesting articles, photos, information, or opinions related to Taiwan, and the events that are taking place inside the country, and in the wider region. In this post you will get a better understanding of which Taiwan centric English language Facebook pages are right now most engaging, and therefore perhaps most interesting to follow. You will also get to know where Taiwan Explorer Page stands among them right now.

The complete list

Let's first look at my list like it's presented in Facebook's Insights. I might have missed a page or two (and I apologize in advance for that), but I think I have found at least 90% of all Taiwan centric pages. The main criteria used by Facebook is the number of likes, however for me this is not the most important aspect of s successful page. It's definitely important, but it can also be deceiving. Nevertheless, below is the complete list of the pages I have found. The data is from the period Aug 17. 2014 - Aug 23. 2014, they are sorted automatically by Facebook (for your reference, I am number 33):

As you can see, a lot of pages, especially at the bottom of the list, are either dead (such as The NH Bushman), or update very rarely (such as En Route To Fluency). Both blogs however are updating regularly, which shows where the authors place their priority. A Facebook page is not everybody's thing. I see a lot of Taiwan bloggers on Twitter and Instagram, some are also on Tumblr and Pinterest, but may not have a Facebook page. On the other hand there are pages at the top of the list that show very low engagement such as the Sunflower Movement 太陽花學 and Taiwan Voice, however that's because they update at irregular intervals. This means when they do update, they often have a very high engagement level in that period. So take this list with a grain of salt, and double check an individual page to see the activity in a longer period than just the previous week. I believe however that a Facebook page needs regular care and updates, so if you want to have high engagement, updating a few times per day is a must to maintain a certain level and grow. I'm speaking from my own experience, and I believe it's common to all pages on the list that have an active and expanding follower base.

The most engaging page is Taiwanreporter

I personally believe that engagement always trumps the sheer number of page likes. A lot of people "like" a page, but don't actively follow afterwards. So as of right now, this is the actual current top 5 of Taiwan centric English language Facebook pages:

So what is Taiwanreporter's secret? Since I'm following his page more or less from the start, I think I might have some ideas:

- He updates daily, but not to much, just a right amount (5 to maximum 10 posts)
- He shares interesting stuff from politics, to travel, to every day life. Sometimes he reports live.
- Some of his posts are in German, some in English, which widens the audience
- He grew a big base of Taiwanese followers (who live in Taiwan and overseas)
- He's the main information source for Germans in Taiwan (and Taiwanese in Germany)
- He found the right balance between keeping the site classy, and allowing good discussions
- He's a one person page, he's authentic, and easy to relate to (as opposed to an organization)
- He uses his blog and other social media (Twitter, Vine) to generate content, and lure in new followers

Taiwanreporter and my own page are the only two on the list that are created and managed by one person, Focus Taiwan page is managed by Taiwan's Central News Agency (CNA), and American Citizens for Taiwan are pages based in the US and representing two overseas organizations.

Three different metrics

I decided to take a closer look only at those pages that have the most engagement, and not most page likes. I got a top 20 this way, all the pages with low or no engagement are therefore not part of this list. Then I sorted them in 3 different ways:

Active pages sorted by the number of page likes

When it comes to page likes, nobody is even close to Explore Traveler. I have no idea how this page garnered so many likes, but the engagement level is extremely low compared to that number, which leaves a big invisible question mark above my head.

Active pages sorted by the number of engagement

This is once again for me the most important indicator that a page is really doing well, and Taiwanreporter is by far topping the list. And he's maintaining such high level for several weeks (perhaps months). It's pretty steady, and seem to be growing based on my irregular checking of Facebook's insights. My page is doing very well lately, the engagement is really growing rapidly, and I too am able to maintain such level for several weeks now (a big spike of followers and engagement occured when I started to report on the Sunflower Movement).

Active pages sorted by the ratio of engagement vs. page likes

This last metric is kind of interesting. I divided the engagement number with the total number of page likes. The higher the percentage, the more active is the follower base of a page. Everything below 5% is low, it indicates that the page is perhaps stagnating. Between 5-15% it's a good engagement level, everything above is extremely good, and might be caused by an unusual spike. I'm pretty sure that I can't keep my current high level for too long, I will probably fall significantly very soon (if I could maintain over 20% for a longer period of time like Taiwanreporter, that would be a big achievement).

How I grew my Facebook page

I started to pay attention to pages when Facebook added the Timeline feature in March 2012. Initially it was used for linking to my blog, nothing more. It had low engagement, and just few likes. At some point, though, I realized that in order to get more readers for my blog, I have to find ways to increase engagement on social media, and Facebook (together with Instagram) were my first priority. I decided to expand my sharing on the page to photos and interesting links, and the followers started to grow quickly in 2013. At the end of the year I decided to rebrand myself and became "Taiwan Explorer",  I had to create a completely new page in order to be able to get the new name. This meant that I went from nearly 1000 followers to 0, and had to work myself up again. It was hard in the beginning, but after reaching around 500 likes, the engagement became almost the same as on the old page, and the growth of weekly likes became steady. At the same time I have also perfected the way I find interesting and unique content related to Taiwan, and I think I found my niche, that separates me from other Taiwan centric pages. But as the followers and the engagement grow, so does the stress level. Sometimes I miss the old times when it was a little bit more peaceful in the comment threads. Now I have lots of people who follow me for a year or two, and they instantly get my irony or sarcasm, and those new ones, who are still sometimes struggling to get my funny side. All in all I hope for a slow growth of new followers, and a steady engagement level. Generally I'm enjoying the comments and reactions, and because of the excellent mobile app, I'm more or less connected to my page all the time. If I'm not too busy, I often reply on the go (however lately I'm quite busy, so I'm not that interactive). I'd like to thank all those of you who enjoy following my updates. This is still my hobby, I've no ulterior motives to monetize anything I do on social media or my blog, I just want to keep it fun for myself and all of you. Hopefully for a long time.

Links to top 20 Taiwan centric Facebook pages

TaiwanreporterTaiwanese AmericanFocus TaiwanTaiwan ExplorerAmerican Citizens for TaiwanTravel in TaiwanExplore TravelerTaipei TrendsThinking TaiwanFormosan Association For Public AffairsForward Taiwan 。 向前台灣Waeguk TomRound Taiwan RoundTaiwan VoiceTaiwan CornerLove, DadaochengHacking ChineseKetagalan MediaMata TaiwanTaipei 543