The point of setting goals and tracking results is to become aware of how your actions impact the outcome.
If you take conscious steps and then observe the reactions, you become responsible and completely aware of how you control those results.
Awareness = Control
If you think you can’t control what happens in social media, perhaps you should try taking a look from a different angle. Just looking at the pretty charts on Google Analytics or the number of Retweets on your posts won’t be enough to actually gain control over the results.
One of the things I love about blogs like ThinkTraffic is how they publish monthly reports, mostly on how they grow blog traffic. They turn themselves into a case study as a way of teaching people with their own experience.
I am considering following their example and start publishing this kind of content, maybe we do it at the end of this month. For now, let’s look at how to do it and use some dummy figures…
Set Some Rules
- Establish the metrics you want to track.
- Document everything to keep comparing month after month.
- Each monthly report should be divided in 2 parts: Goals and Results.
- Be consistent, set a date to work on this report every month. A good day to do this is a couple of days after the previous month is over, allow analytics to gather all necessary data.
- Take a different approach, let’s not put all the focus on the data. Let’s actually support that data by acknowledging what happened.
Report Of The Ending Month
Head over to your Google Analytics and grab the digits for Visits, Pageviews, Average Time on Site, Bounce Rate and whatever else is important to your business.
Now compare to the previous month’s numbers to see if it’s increasing or decreasing and get the rates (%). Keep it very simple, it should look like something like this:
- Visits: 11,619 (Increment of 12%)
- Pageviews: 18.073 (Increment of 14,2%)
We’ll also need Traffic Sources which is very important because it will tell you exactly where you need to focus. The truth is that this not about getting love from some sites more than others, you need to see this different, a social platform could give you more traffic because you’re more active there or because that’s where your prospect hangs out.
Observe those things and you will soon know what to do, where and how frequently instead of blindly shooting everywhere to see if you hit something and consume all your energy…
Get only the top 5 or 10 traffic sources and more importantly, write a comment about it.
- Twitter visits: 2,233 (Decreased 5,3%) – Activity level was lower the last week of the month.
- Digg visits: 457 (Increased 14,4%) – The post “Top 10 Ways for Kicking Serious Ass” received 87 Diggs.
Also look for unexpected events.
- Holy Kaw! visit: 867 – The post “Top 10 Whatever List” got picked up by Holy Kaw! at the beginning of the month.
It has been said before, great content does NOT promote itself. Let me put it this way, if you create it already why not put it in front of the world? And, if already put it in front of the world, why not see how the world likes it?
- First, what did you publish? Make a list of the titles and “live” dates.
- How many posts? How many each week?
- What types of posts did you publish? or divide them into blog categories if you like.
Make it look like this:
- 9 posts were publish (2.25 per week).
- 4 posts on social media strategy and how-to’s.
- 3 fun Top 10 lists.
- 2 polls.
- Add the list of each piece of content.
You can count retweets, likes, bookmarks and so on if you want or you can use PostRank services to measure content performance and get all the data processed for you and looking like a million dollars:
Again, don’t get stuck in the numbers and pretty charts. Let’s just look at the big picture. Get the totals for the month like this:
- 562 Retweets (Increased 7,1%) – I was more active sharing other people’s content and double the self-promotion tweets on the days I published content.
- 365 Delicious bookmarks (Increased 57,4%) – I provided more resources, tools and links on my posts and people usually bookmark those.
- 126 Facebook Likes (Decreased 23,1%) – Some posts were more business-oriented, maybe not appealing to the Facebook crowd.
You get the picture.
Also very important if what you run is a blog and it says a lot of what you put out there because it represents people that finds you valuable enough to want to keep getting it on a regular basis. Much more important than a retweet or a bookmark.
- RSS New Subscriptions: 109 (Increased 5,2%)
- Email New Subscriptions: 29 (Increased 2,6%) – The subscription box was positioned at the top of the sidebar.
It would be nice if you could also tell if you got any real results, you know, the kind that represents actual business… Wait! if you are willing to keep things simple and manual this could be very easy depending on the type of product or service. Let me illustrate by sharing a piece of a conversation with one of my latest clients:
Me: “Hey Mr. Customer, do you mind if I ask how did you find me?”
Client: “Oh yeah! last week I followed your tweet and read your post about the 7 examples of kick-ass personal brands…”
As simple as that. Imagine what you can do with that! Here is an idea:
- New Prospects: 8 (6 from Twitter/1 from Facebook/1 from LinkedIn)
- New Clients: 4 (3 from Twitter/1 from LinkedIn).
Before you continue to set your goals for the next month, review the goals you setup last month to see if you were successful, how close you got or where did you fail to achieve them.
Goals For The Starting Month
A couple of pointers before you dive in:
- Set only a few very specific goals.
- Be realistic. Set goals having in mind what you need to do in order to reach them.
- Stretch a little, being realistic doesn’t mean being comfortable. Doing the things you usually resist is a good exercise.
- Make sure you can measure the results.
This is a simple list that will look like this:
- Increase the number of posts to 12 in order to build momentum. This should result in more traffic.
- Write at least 2 guest post on other blogs.
- Comment on other blogs. At least 5 comments per week. I don’t do this enough.
- Be more active on Sphinn and Digg. Connect with people there and comment on posts.
- Determine what social platforms to stop using.
- Be more conversational on Twitter.
- Start tracking the time I spend a day in social media.
If you try to set goals based on numbers, such as “Increase traffic by 20%” without a solid foundation and an action plan, the only thing you are increasing for sure are your chances of failing at the end.
Stop thinking about digits.
One more thing before I wrap this baby up, make sure your monthly goals are aligned with the general objectives of having your business online. It is very easy to get distracted by shiny objects and believe me… social media is very shiny!
Now go set some kick-ass goals for next month.