Opinion: Managing Expectations on DRIVETRIBE.
Last October I set about writing a series of how to articles on DT. This article series, titled: "from the Garage: XXXXX", was about the planning of building an American style Hot Rod. I tried to keep the balance between bland information, need to know information and interesting facts equal. I attempted to write an article series that would be interesting to the average, hands on car enthusiast.
The series failed miserably!
It's important to manage expectations with anything you create on social media. In fact, it's best to think about the things you create like this:
"OK, I've finished this project, so I'll publish it and now it's on to the next thing!"
It's OK to check back on them and see how they are doing in STUDIO and by clicking on them every now and then, but worrying about them is really pointless. Yes, you can go back and adjust titles and change Hero images, to attempt to appeal to as broad of an audience as you can and sometimes that works, but there is only so much manipulation you can do to a series of, what I'm told are, "niche" articles.
After looking at a number of other such articles on DT, I noticed that they too had low engagement numbers. I started thinking that maybe DT wasn't the place for mechanical or even How-To articles.
I didn't really want to believe that, so I set about using the tools that DT has provided. I made a couple of polls that, in a way, ask the following three questions:
1) How mechanically inclined is the DT user base?
2) How would a DT user react if they had the opportunity to own and fix up their favorite car?
This last one was a suggestion by an incredibly helpful DT user, that gave me a way to ask the third question, I'd been struggling to find a way to ask:
3) Since vintage cars are, financially, out of the reach of most young people, what would they own if they had the money to buy what they wanted?
Question 1's Poll:
In the above poll we see how a sampling of DT users would react to their car showing signs of wear. The ability to do roadside diagnostics is one of the traits of the mechanically minded. The blue and purple answers are very fitting for a person that has one of those mechanical minds. The yellow and green highlighted answers are what you would expect from those that have never had any reason to wonder about vehicular noises or those that aren't interested in mechanical things.
The red one at the top has three meanings. Either people picked it for a laugh, they've got a car they don't care about or they know what the sound is and it isn't important enough to stop.
This poll indicates that out of the 926 participants, 85.6% of them think of themselves as some sort of grease monkey. So that's a good sign of mechanical curiosity and should translate into validation of my idea that mechanical how-tos should do well, but let's look on!
Question 2's Poll:
This image was cropped in the best way. 621 people answered.
Despite the good showing in question 1, we start to see mechanical aspirations fall off in this question. Only 54.6% of those that answered deciding to keep the car and repair it. 45.4% of people choosing to either have someone else do the work or sell the car on. The fact that almost 2% of people choose to crush a Lamborghini, '36 Ford coupe, big wing Charger and a Jaaaag, has to be put down to trying to be funny. On we go...
Question 3's Poll:
This question seems rather harmless at first, but the addition of the option to head to the comments and tell the car people would pick is rather telling. Of those 124 comments, not one person said they would fix a car they already have or insinuated they would repair a car of any kind.
I know what you are going to say and I understand that wasn't an option, but you'd think one person would like to finish a car they already have and are working on, before dropping six figures on another car.
I'm afraid I'm really no closer to figuring out why how-to articles don't do well on DT. I suppose you could dismiss the first article series as being too, "niche". That would be true if it wasn't for the fact that there is an entire television network (MotorTrendTV, have you heard of it?) devoted to producing shows about cars like the ones in the series. Perhaps then the problem is this content isn't what the users on DT are looking for?
That's a fair statement, but if that's the case, then are the users on DT too "niche"? Maybe, but as a content creator that believes in producing new, original content instead of right clicking and saving pictures from manufactures press websites and then rewording already written articles of the day, I truly believe that things like how-to articles, fan created motorsports quizzes, car meet/show pictures and robust conversations are what is going to seperate DRIVETRIBE from other platforms.
That robust conversation includes taking the time to respond to every person that takes the time to comment on an article you write and commenting on as many articles and posts as you find relevant to your interests. Simply looking at something and scrolling passed it misses the point of why we are doing this, why everyone has come to this wonderful home of all things automotive.
So, if you need me I'll be in STUDIO, writing something no one will read and I guess I'm OK with that!
Keep on Cruisin'!
Go ahead and leave me a comment. I'll get back to you as soon as I can!