Writers: Track Your Analytics and Measure Your Success

Today social media expert and regular contributor for Write Nonfiction NOW!, Frances Caballo (@CaballoFrances), is here once again to offer  tips to help you track and analyze your social media efforts. It’s one thing to get involved in social media; it’s quite another to make what you do on those networks effective.

social media analyticsMany writers make the mistake of thinking that by being on Facebook and Twitter, or on other social media channels, they’ve already accomplished a marketing goal.

Unfortunately, that’s not true. They are merely using a tool that will help them achieve a stated outcome. You must define the purpose of your online activity, become clear on your purpose, and determine whether the outcomes you achieve will enable you to reach your overall goal.

Once you have that on paper, use one or more applications that will help you to measure engagement and other metrics on your social media networks.

How to Find Your Online Groove

Once you have reserved your user name on the social media networks you intend to use and have started to tweet and post, the next step is to analyze your efforts to make sure you are on your way to achieving your goals.

Here are some examples of why you need to pay attention to analyses of your hard work:

  • What if you discover that your Facebook posts were appealing to more women than men? Would that information prompt you to adjust your messaging or images?
  • What if you discovered that your tweets were most often retweeted at six a.m. Eastern Standard Time? Would that information cause you to start scheduling your tweets when East Coast residents are more likely to be online and using social media?
  • What if you discovered that a significant number of your Facebook fans were from Great Britain? Wouldn’t you want to schedule some of your status updates to the United Kingdom’s time zone?

The obvious answer to the above questions is “yes.”

With analytics—whether it’s Facebook’s free Insights or an application you pay for—you can better understand the demographics (age, sex, location) of your following and learn when they tend to be online so you can tailor your messaging and the timing accordingly. Applications that measure your return on investment (ROI) will ensure that your time on social media is well spent.

Don’t worry; analytics aren’t difficult to interpret. There are plenty of applications on the market to conduct the intricacies of calculating the metrics and providing detailed reports. The hardest decision you will have to make is determine which application is right for you. There is a wide variety of apps available at an equally varied price range, so review the benefits of each application and weigh them against the cost so you can determine which application is best suited for you.

Analytical Tools Just for Your Facebook Pages

Facebook Insights
Once your Facebook page accumulates sufficient Likes, Facebook’s free analytics tool becomes available as part of your administrative panel. Insights will provide in-depth information about your follower counts, Likes, comments, shares, demographics, and more. Each week you’ll be able to see a seven-day review of the most engaging activity on your page and how your fan base is growing, compare the performance of your posts so that you can learn which messaging works best, and discover more about the people who comment and share your posts. A great feature of Insights is that it will provide you with demographics on not only your fans but also the number of people you reached through shares. This tool will, over time, teach you how to better engage with your readers on Facebook.

All you need to do is type in the web address of your Facebook page (not your profile), and this free program will analyze your engagement. Your score will be somewhere between 1 and 100. The higher your score, the better your page is performing. This application will rate your growth in page Likes, rank your score against similar pages, measure your response time to comments left by fans, determine whether you are asking questions often enough, and remind you to denote more milestones. Basically, it provides an at-a-glance look at the areas you excel in and the areas that need improvement. Every- one with a Facebook page should take advantage of this free analytics program.

To discover how your page fares compared to similar pages, type in your Facebook URL. If you want to know which pages are trending on Facebook, you can also find that information on this free informational site.

Pinterest Business Account
When you sign up for a Pinterest business account, you will have access to your analytics for free. You will be able to determine the date and time when most of your images are repinned and Pinterest will track your reach, clicks, visitors and impressions.

Subscription-Based Tools

For $39/month, SproutSocial will analyze your Facebook and Twitter accounts. The analytics are comprehensive, and in addition to a PDF report, you can download an Excel spreadsheet that examines your click-through rates on a day-by-day basis. It provides in-depth demographics and measures tweets, retweets, follows, mentions, re- plies, and direct messages. It will also measure how social you are and determine your influence. You can also use this application to schedule your posts, unfollow users, and, at the premium level, it will determine your best posting times.

Use this application to monitor conversations occurring on the web about you, your books, and the self-publishing industry in general. It takes less than ten minutes to set up. It pulls information from your Google Analytics account to tabulate page views and visits. Pricing starts at $1.99/month for Facebook monitoring and $49/month for social media monitoring. You can also test this application for free.

For $49/month, this application will analyze your data every week, build your reports, and send them to you. Measureful automatically distills your Google Analytics data into weekly insights and reports. You can connect your accounts in five minutes or less and wait for the reports to arrive.

Social Report
For just $9/month, Social Report will connect to a variety of social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, Blogger, and LinkedIn, and provide weekly and daily digests of your web analytics. The metrics include insights into your social networking accounts and the interests, geographical locations, and gender of your readers. These types of metrics will enable you to hone your content and marketing language to better suit your audience. For $39/month, you can also use this tool to schedule your messages and track goals and objectives.

You’re probably already familiar with Bit.ly as a link shortener. When you consistently use this website to shorten your links, Bit.ly will track click-through rates for you for free. It also offers a paid enterprise analytics platform to help you learn more about your website visitors. For example, it will track where members of your audience navigate to once they leave your website, track your keywords, provide you with custom links that reflect your brand, and notify you of trending content. You need to contact Bit.ly for its enterprise pro- gram fees.

Next Steps for You to Consider

If you don’t yet have thirty-five page Likes on Facebook, encourage your friends and followers on Twitter to like your page. Then you’ll have access to Insights and you’ll be able to teach yourself how to improve engagement on your page. Have you added any milestones to your page? Do you allow your fans to post on your page? Do you know where your fans live? Try LikeAlyzer to find out what you need to work on next.

  • Sign up for Google Analytics (it’s free) and CrazyEgg ($9/month) to determine whether your website messaging is keeping your audience interested.
  • If you use HootSuite or Buffer to schedule your posts and you pay for the service, you’ll be able to use these programs to measure your results. Check out the reports, and determine whether the information provided sufficiently measures your progress in using these tools.
  • If you decide that you’re not pleased with the analytics on Buffer and Hootsuite, sign up for SproutSocial to analyze both your Facebook and Twitter accounts. In addition, consider signing up for SocialBro or Tweriod so you can start tweeting when the majority of your followers are on Twitter.
  • If you’re active on Pinterest, use one of the programs mentioned in this post to analyze your performance.

Once a week, analyze your performance from the previous week, and determine whether there are any weak areas in your social media messaging. Maybe you need to add more images or shorten your messages. Remember to reply to messages as soon as you can, and always remain positive. Study the metrics and strive each week to improve engagement.
About the Author

Frances CaballoFrances Caballo is a social media manager for writers and author of  Avoid Social Media Time Suck: A Blueprint for Writers to Create Online Buzz for Their Books and Still Have Time to Write, Social Media Just for Writers: The Best Online Marketing Tips for Selling Your Books. Presently, she is the Social Media Manager for the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapter, the San Francisco Writers Conference, and the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. You can find her on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+.

Photo courtesy of kchungtw at istockphoto.com.

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