Categories
Community Management

Community Management Tidbits – Analytics

Community Management Tidbits – Analytics

So, the truth is, analytics are a term that scares a lot of people. But don’t panic.

You’ve got a community. And you’re working hard on it. It’s growing. But you have no idea whether what you’re doing is having any sort of an impact whatsoever. This is where analytics comes in.

Community Management Tidbits - Analytics
Google Analytics: How to Identify Top Content Posts (Photo credit: IvanWalsh.com)

Now, don’t panic if you don’t have a data analysis background. It’s not strictly necessary. What you do need, though, are (a) a means of measurement (preferably you should have a few of these) and (b) the willingness to measure. Really, it’s that easy. You do not need a degree in Advanced Statistics.

Google Analytics

First of all, the primary measurement stick you want is Google Analytics. And it is free and very easy to use. It’s also a rather robust measurement system, showing trends in Visitors, Absolute Unique Visitors, and more.

In addition, it shows, among other things, where your traffic is coming from, where your users land, and where they departed your site from. It also shows Bounce Rate, which is defined by Measurement Guru Avinash Kaushik as, “I came, I saw, I puked.” In other words, the visitor only visited one page of the site.

Keep in mind, it’s possible your visitor loved your site but got everything they needed in just one page. So, while they may have bounced right out of there, it might not have been due to any fault or failing on your part.

So, try not to take it personally, okay?

AHRefs

Thank God for AHRefs. While free website measurement tools have come and gone (apart from Google Analytics), AHRefs will review whatever is out there.

So, one thing to keep in mind is that as this post is updated, I keep finding new yardsticks. And then they go away after a while. At least AHRefs is still hanging in there. Whew.

Alexa

And another yardstick (albeit a far less useful one) is Alexa. Alexa really only works well for anyone using Alexa’s own toolbar for their search. Still, it is of some use, and it is free. Hence as an aside, ask your users if they will prepare a write-up about your site on Alexa.

Analytics From More Yardsticks

Furthermore, there are also measuring websites specifically designed to help you comprehend how you’re doing on Twitter and elsewhere, namely:

  • HootSuite – count the number of clicks you receive on shortened URLs, to supplement your Google Analytics click counts
  • HubSpot – measure how influential you are (with a hugely helpful diagnostic) and
  • Tweet Reach – measure how many people are receiving your tweets and any retweetings of your messages. Note: this one is no longer free!

Using Your Findings

So what do you do with all of this information once you’ve amassed it? Why, you act upon it! Does one page on your site have a far higher Bounce Rate than the others? Check it and see if the links on it are all leading users away from your site. If that’s not the culprit, perhaps its content isn’t compelling enough. Got a series of links you’ve tweeted that have consistently gotten you the most clicks? Then check to see what they all have in common, and offer similar links in the future. And maybe even build some onsite content around those subjects.

Has your HubSpot grade tanked in the past week? That might be due to external factors beyond your control, but check to see if any of it is within your purview. Perhaps your server was down.

Finally, small fluctuations over short time periods are perfectly normal and are no cause for concern. However, much larger hikes and drops, or trends over longer time periods, are more of an issue. But you’ll never know about any of these things unless you start to take measurements, and read and use them.

Categories
Social Media

Getting More Twitter Followers

Are You Interested in Getting More Twitter Followers?

Getting More Twitter Followers.

Getting More Twitter Followers
twitter icon 9a (Photo credit: marek.sotak)

Oh, it’s the Holy Grail, isn’t it? Getting more people to follow you, and moving that magical Twitter followers number up, up and ever upwards, to stratospheric heights. And, even more importantly, increasing it to more than the number of people you’re following (more on that later).

Social Media Today weighed in on this, and I support their ideas but would love to expand up them in this post. Here’s what they had to say about Twitter followers and increasing their numbers.

Quality vs. Quantity

First off, they point out that it’s not quantity, it’s quality. Well, yeah. Kinda. However, various Twitter graders (such used to be found on HubSpot – now they provide a website grader) did give more credit for having more followers. Were these graders meaningful? Kinda, sorta.

HubSpot admitted that they did give some weight to the actual numbers. I am not averse to actual numbers being used as a part of the grading system. They are, after all, somewhat objective. But does any of it have a meaning? Probably, mainly, to fellow social media marketing-type folk. But if you were to tout your grade to anyone not into it, they’d probably look at you as if you had three heads (my apologies, HubSpot).

Who Do You Want to Follow You?

So onto the techniques. (1) Think about who you want your Twitter followers to be – like with any other idea, you need to have some sort of a plan. If you want to sell landscaping services, it would help to target homeowners and gardeners, yes? And in your area, right? You might get John from Cincinnati but unless you’re in the Cincinnati area, forget it. John may be wonderful, but his following you is of little help to you. Social Media Today‘s suggestion is to go after directories like We Follow. Agreed, and possibly also go after local groups of people. As in, put your Twitter handle on your business cards. You’re mainly going to be handing those to local folk, so there’s a match there.

(2) Complete your profile – this is a no-brainer and I have no idea why people don’t do this as it takes very little time. And, while you’re at it, add a photograph. Make it of your face, or of the company logo if the profile is shared.

Return the Favor

(3) Follow others – sure, but don’t do so indiscriminately. At some point, you will hit maybe 2,000 following. However, if your own Twitter followers are nowhere near as high, you’ll mainly look like a spammer (e. g. an account indiscriminately following whoever).

The easiest way to assure that a more balanced ratio is maintained is to get into the habit of doing it now, before you have to care about it. Therefore, don’t just follow back everyone who follows you, unless you’ve got a good reason to do so. A lot of accounts will follow and then unfollow in a day or so if you haven’t followed back. You most likely don’t want these followers anyway. So, unless they are appealing for some other reason, don’t bother with them. Might I also suggest pruning? If someone isn’t following you back and they aren’t that interesting, uh, why are you following them again?

Use Tweepsmap to find people who recently unfollowed you. It’s free!

You’re Not the Only One

(4) It’s not about you – agreed. I may tweet (on occasion) about shoveling snow, but the bottom line is, I know that’s not fascinating to most people. You have a new blog post? Tweet about it. The company landed a new contract? Tweet about it. The laws are changing in your area? Well, you get the idea.

(5) Hashtag, retweet, and reply – that is, pay attention to other people. How would they best be able to find your stuff? Would you want them to retweet your stuff? Then retweet theirs. Comment, reply, engage. Be involved with the Twitter community.

(6) Add people to lists – of course. But use those lists! I’ve been on Twitter longer than there have been lists, and I originally just followed everyone. When I started listing them, I began coming up with people who I didn’t know at all, at least not on the surface. Hence I created a list just called Who Are These People? and began investigating them further. I kept a lot of them, but a lot were sent to the great Twitter post in the sky. And that’s okay. Because it goes back to an original principle: follow who you want to follow, and don’t just auto-follow.

Get Personal With Your Twitter Followers

(7) Welcome your new Twitter followers – personally, I’m not a fan of this one, as I have seen all manner of automated “thanks for following me” messages. There’s nothing wrong with a “thanks for following me” tweet every now and then. Those can be nice. Just try not to be too mechanical about it.

Oh, and don’t make your first direct message all about sales. Seriously, just don’t. It’s a poor look no matter who you are.

(8) Integrate, integrate, integrate – that is, like with any other form of social media engagement, put it everywhere. How many times do people have to see something online before they take action? Seven? Nine? Then get your twitter handle out there. Use it in signature lines, on business cards and, heck, even write it on name tags.

Does it all work? Sure it does. And it’s a lot more in the spirit of Twitter than just getting some generic and spammy auto-following list to add your handle, briefly, to their list of who to follow. Don’t be that guy. Be someone who you would want to follow.

Twitter Followers: The Upshot

Getting followers is not the be-all and end-all, so don’t make it that way. Rather, interact and engage. Be encouraging and positive. Being funny helps as well.

It’s not all about the numbers.

Categories
Twitter

Almost Everything But the Tweet – Conquering Twitter (offsite connections)

Almost Everything But the Tweet – Conquering Twitter (offsite connections)

Offsite connections. Because Twitter is so bare bones, any number of applications have sprung up around it in order to help you manage it and become as great as you can be. Try Twellow (many thanks to Bobbie Carlton for this particular tip).

This is essentially the Yellow Pages of Twitter. Put your company name here. You’ll have a bit more space to describe your site versus what Twitter gives you, so use that space wisely. Since most of the people checking you out on Twellow are also going to search for you on Twitter (probably after seeing your Twellow profile), make sure that your information is supportive and bolstering, but not redundant vis a vis your Twitter profile.

CrowdLens and Other Software

Another idea is CrowdLens, my friend Nick Ashley’s app. CrowdLens is designed to help remove redundancy (all that retweeting!) from your Twitter stream. CrowdLens can sometimes be slow. Here are some more sites to check out:

  • HootSuite – a tweet scheduling service (and more) whereby you can track stats and import your lists.
  • Social Oomph (formerly Tweet Later) – time tweets and gather simple metrics on shortened urls. You can set up more than one account this way.
  • Tweet Stats – a graph of, among other things, daily aggregate tweets, your most popular hours to tweet and who you retweet.
  • Idek – a url-shortening service that tracks metrics.
  • Twitter Reach – exposure and reach information, such as impressions and mentionings of any topic, word, phrase, userid or hashtag.

Offsite Connections: The Upshot

As Twitter continues to mature as a business tool, I predict that more and more of these off-site services will spring up. The most successful one will, in my opinion, combine the best features of all, coupled with ease of use and an ability to show trends over time.

And finally, Twitter changes things almost as much and as fast as Facebook does. So keep in mind, these instructions may need some tweaking.

Categories
Twitter

Almost Everything But the Tweet – Conquering Twitter (metrics and timing)

Almost Everything But the Tweet – Conquering Twitter (metrics and timing)

Metrics and timing. When you tweet may not seem to matter too much. In particular, if you don’t tweet too terribly often, your tweets will still be out there, so why bother to even care about timing?

metrics and timing

Not so fast.

Patterns

According to The Science of Retweets, Twitter users tend to follow some recognizable patterns. First thing Monday morning is prime time for retweeting; so is five o’clock on a Friday afternoon. And that makes sense, as tweeters are either settling into the work week or are just about to start the weekend. Weekend tweeting is another animal as well. Noon is another good time for retweeting — people are at lunch or are about to go.

Plus there’s also the matter of accounts (often for job sites) that pump out a good dozen tweets, one right after another. These have little individual impact and seem only to be useful for later searching.

Timed tweeting seems almost counterintuitive. But for a business to use Twitter effectively, the tweets should be planned anyway. Why not plan not only their content but also their timing?

Scheduling Software

Here’s where services like Tweet DeckSocial Oomph (formerly Tweet Later) and HootSuite can provide some assistance. By scheduling the most important tweets for the very start and end (and middle) of each business day, you can add to their impact. Separating out your tweets can also get them all out there while simultaneously preventing a flood of tweets which many users are generally just going to ignore.

Another positive upshot to spacing out your tweets is giving you content that can be used later. For Social Media platforms, it’s easy to initially attack them with an enormous amount of enthusiasm and then taper off or even fizzle out entirely. If you regularly spit out twenty tweets per day, you’ll be tweeting 100 times during any given work week. Even your most dedicated followers are probably not going to read every single one. Plus, you’re setting yourself up for burnout.

Time Zone Scheduling

Instead, how about scheduling only two tweets per day (say, at 9:00 and 5:00 PM in the time zone where you have the greatest market share)? That way, you’ll have more people reading and no one will feel overwhelmed. Plus your 100 tweets will work for a little over a month or even two, if you are judicious and don’t tweet on the weekends.

So long as your tweets aren’t intimately tied to a specific time (e. g. announcements of an upcoming event), it shouldn’t matter. And, if they are, you might want to consider splitting them over several Twitter accounts. Perhaps open up one for just events in Seattle, for example.

Now, what about metrics?

URLs

Unfortunately, Twitter itself doesn’t do much, so you’ll have to cobble things together yourself and use off-Twitter resources. One idea is to use a URL-shortening service that tracks basic metrics, such as Social Oomph or Idek. You may not get much more data from them than click count, but it’s still something. Hoot Suite provides .owly link metrics, with two free reports.

Another idea is to use a unique URL for the site URL in your profile, say, http://yoursite.com/twitter. If you’ve got Google Analytics set up, you can track when that page is used for landings to your site, and its bounce rate. For commercial ventures, you might even make up a coupon code and tweet about it, or use your Twitter landing page as a means of communicating certain special offers available only to Twitter users.

Follower/Following Ratio

Your number of followers, and the ratio of followers to who youfollow, is all well and good, but it’s hard to say what you’re measuring. On Twitter, as on much of the web, popularity tends to breed even more popularity. And, it doesn’t really mean much if you have a number of purely spammy sites following you. They aren’t reading your tweets, anyway, so what’s the point?

This dilutes any idea of what these numbers might provide regarding influence, but if for some reason you really want to be followed by a bunch of spammers, just place the term weight loss into your profile and never block the spammers. In fact, follow them back, and you can get even more of them.

It hardly seems a worthwhile trophy to be followed by the biggest-ever village of spammers, eh?

Some Metrics

Some sites, such as Audiense, show number of followers and their influence and activity. You can see which inactive people you follow (so you can drop them), which famous people follow you, etc. Some of these are admittedly vanity metrics, but they are helpful.

Tweet Stats demonstrates, among other things, a graph of daily aggregate tweets. And it also contains your most popular hours to tweet and who you retweet. Twitter Reach reveals exposure and reach. E. g. this means impressions and mentions of any topic, be it a word, a phrase, a userid or a hashtag.

In conclusion, keep up with Twitter, but don’t overwhelm your followers with floods of content, and measure your influence as well as you can, both using your own and external tools. If you can adjust your tweets to better serve your followers, your true influence will surely rise.