Is your best practice blocking your growth?

Why experimenting on social networks taught us we shouldn’t be restricted by ‘best practice’

by Mathilde Klotz

Is your best practice blocking your growth?

Best practices are often great and there for a good reason: they guide us in our work and help make sure we create activities that are fit for purpose, that they are optimised and will give their best results in most situations. However, I started to wonder if we were right to always follow best practice.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not going to tell you here that you should throw away all the best practice you have identified after hours of experimentation. Instead, question whether they are always the best way to go about something.

Why question best practice?

If best practice has been identified as such and is shared by many teams, why should you doubt it in the first place? Well that’s precisely where the risk might be: if you are to take best practices for granted you’ll eventually stop wondering if they are still the best or not. Especially if said best practice has been around for a long time.

If someone asks you why you do something, just replying “it’s best practice” might not always be enough. Do you really know why you are doing some of the stuff you do? If this sparks a doubt, then you have reached the point we were at in the French team a few month ago with our social channels.

Questioning best practice in the France squad — how did we get there?

As a Social Media Manager at Skyscanner, I followed the best practice we have in-house for our brand presence on different networks. Things like ‘make sure you keep the amount of post to XX for this channel’ or ‘don’t post the same content too often’ were anchored in my day to day work and it all seemed to work.

But following a recent audit of our channels, we realised that organically, performance wasn’t as strong as it could be — some channels had stopped growing, reach had fallen and referral traffic too. Channels were still adding to the Skyscanner traffic pot but as things were looking, but there was room for improvement.

At this point all our channels were following best practice but it became obvious it wasn’t working for us, and that things should change.

Before reviewing best practice, we settled on the same goal for all channels: doubling organic traffic coming from each channel (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) by the end of the experiment.

Changing best practice: why taking a leap of faith might help you achieve your goal

After assessing what we were doing on each channel, a very simple solution came to mind to help us achieve our goal of maximizing traffic from our channels.

Our hypothesis was as follows: “If one post once on XX channel brings 200 sessions, then posting 10 times will bring us 2000 sessions.

Simple right? But not so ideal, as this was strongly against every best practice we had in place. Increasing the amount of posts in order to increase traffic would’ve been against the recommended number of posts for each channel, we would’ve been forced to re-use content and were in risk of spamming people.

We were at risk of spamming people, but, being stubborn (we’re French…), we decided to go against best practice and give it a go — especially considering constantly changing algorithms meaning we’d be less likely to overwhelm travelers with similar posts. And, as it turned out, it worked!

In one month, we doubled traffic coming from Facebook by posting twice as much as we used to, while still keeping the quality of the traffic, conversions, and importantly, engagement, up.

Twitter took a similar pass, delivering double the volume of traffic and the highest post performances we’ve ever seen on this channel following the massive increase in number of tweets we applied.

And finally Pinterest. Due to the way its algorithm works, results took a long time to show.. so long that we almost gave up after the second month of testing and were tempted to call it a fail. There was just no sign of increase in traffic. However, after three months of posting more and regularly on Pinterest, content was finally picked up and the channel achieved the biggest increase in traffic of this test, with close to five times more traffic than it used to bring, from a few hundred to thousands of sessions.

From hundreds to thousands of sessions on Pinterest — after six months changing strategy

Thanks to these tests, we also learned a lot! We learned that our users actually didn’t seem to mind seeing the same content several times and would keep engaging with the same piece of content, sometimes even more the second or third time we’d post it. We learned that we didn’t lose followers, but that we could in fact gain some by posting more. We learned as well that some experiments take longer than others and that it’s worth keeping them running longer than planned.

At the end, no one seemed to be spammed and the only risk we were taking was that, when a user arrives on a platform, they’ll get the chance to see a Skyscanner post as opposed to none.

What did we continue, what did we stop and what do we keep testing?

The double amount of posts on Facebook has now become our norm and is the new ‘best practice’. The traffic remains consistently high month on month thanks to this volume of posts and the traffic performances are maintaining at a high level.

For Twitter, we unfortunately had to stop creating such a high volume of post per day as this was very time consuming, making the cost of opportunity too high. We are still planning to scale posting on Twitter in the future but, in the meantime, we are experimenting with not posting on Twitter to see the effect.

Pinterest is the channel that turned out to be the most promising and we will now focus our effort into increasing the quality of the traffic brought by it. We will keep posting more on the platform as we did during the test and hope to see the traffic growth maintaining too.

Overall results from those tests were extremely positive and I am glad we took the time to ask ourselves if what we were doing was right and to research how we could do it better. We improved and changed some of our best practice and learned a lot. We’ll keep testing.

At Skyscanner we push ourselves to create ‘constructive disruption’ and I believe this is where questioning best practice falls. It can be tough and uncomfortable to challenge best practices, but the digital world changes so fast that keeping the same ones for too long can put you at risk of missing your next growth opportunity. So keep disrupting!

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About the author

Hi, I am Mathilde, I am Growth Manager in the French Squad within the EMEA tribe. I specialize in Social Media Marketing, Content and Influencer Marketing and absolutely enjoy every bit of it ! Working at Skyscanner has been is such a wonderful experience so far and i love getting up every day (even though i am not a morning person!), knowing that exciting challenges and projects are waiting for me.

We have some good perks and we’re currently recruiting for a Senior Growth Manager (Hong Kong)*. Do take a look at that or our other roles. Come join us in a Marketing or Engineering role in our Growth Tribe to experience a start up at scale with a culture of growth.

*At time of publishing these job roles are live. If they are no longer active do check out the other job roles as linked above.

Mathilde Klotz