If anything, that's the most important thing about social media metrics or for any metrics. Metrics in context connected to action - whether to improve a program already underway or evaluate impact. It's what Avinash Kaushik defines as "Web Analytics 2.0" (I think he even trademarked the term)
Last week, I did a Webinar with Laura Quinn as a primer for nonprofits on Web Analytics. It was interesting to see how people were much more interested in how the metrics were computed on various software programs versus connecting the metric action.
I'm more interested right now in applying the metrics to program improvement. Now, there's a lot more data collect from other sources, but for now I'm just thinking outloud and riffing my last week's post.
Step: Identify the goal or improvement
I want to grow my reader community by providing a great content and conversation about how nonprofits are using social media to reach new audiences, to do their work, or personal learning. I want to engage in conversation with social media evangelists from outside the nonprofit field, nonprofits who are experimenting,etc. How can I keep growing the reader community and the conversation? What should be included here is the social media map or the blogging strategy map that Chris Brogan outlined in his post. Do you have one? Like to share? What would this look like? I'm working on one.
Step 2: Identify the single most important metric
So, what about "How many people read my blog?" and "What is the general trend? Up or Down?" Avinash Kaushik's recommendation:
"Compute Unique Blog Readers by yourself by combining two metrics that are measured slightly, only slightly, differently. Unique Visitors, from your web analytics tool, and Feed Subscribers, from your RSS tool.
Unique Blog Readers = Unique Visitors (to the blog) + Average Feed Subscribers (consuming your feeds)
Step 3: Explore It
I only have four months of accurate RSS subscriber data because I discovered a problem with my RSS feed(s) and feedburner. I corrected the problem with the help of one of my readers, Chris Blow. My RSS subscribers have been increasing more or less by 100 per month, (Thank you everyone!) My blog visitors per month hover at the 11,000-12,000. Should I care about that one is increasing and the other hovers?
I have to ponder why and if I care? Here's where you plunge into Google Analytics and run reports and relate them to your social media map (if you have one ..)
- I took at look at new versus returning visitors report in Google Analytics. Keep in mind that these stats do no necessarily include those roughly 1700 people who subscribe to my blog's RSS feed and via email who may read me in their reader and not click through. A high number of new visitors suggests that blog outreach or at least generating traffic has been working.
- My blog covers nonprofits and social media which is a broader topic compared to other blogs that narrowly focus. I asked a BlogHer personal branding session whether it was important to narrowly focus your topic to build audience. I learned that blog posts that drive a lot of traffic tend to be those that sit on the intersection between two topics. In other words, pick your niche and blog in the center. Because I blog on many different types of technology and how it relates to nonprofit usage, some readers read my blog or particular posts because they are interested in the tools. I can find this out by looking at the posts that get the most visits.
- I don't purchase or received a donated GoogleAdWords for my blog which could up the visitor numbers even more if I targeted the right keywords and people who discovered found what they needed. My biggest source of traffic from search engines are people who search on the word "beth" -- Beth's Blog shows up number two, right above the wikipedia entry for beth. This tells me the importance of naming your blog with something in your topic ... and it may explain why those particular visitors have such as high bounce rate or time on site, although computing bounce rate on blogs can be a problem as Avinash Kaushik cautions.
Step 4: Ask What If I Did ....
There a lot of complexity to chew on. But some some easy changes I can make are how I encourage people to subscribe - the messaging and the place of the RSS/email link.
- While I was looking at the blog as others see it in the browser, I decided to move up the RSS subscribe feed and the subscribe email feed closer to the top and remove some of the clutter in the link list. This month the RSS subscribe feed was the 32nd most popular link.
- I've decided to steal one of Chris Brogan's ideas and add this phrase to posts "And if you’re enjoying this blog, please consider subscribing for free."
- I've changed the title of my blog from simply "Beth's Blog" which isn't descriptive of the content to Beth's Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media. I did that on the fly. I should craft a better title. But the point is that maybe people are not interested in social media and nonprofits will not click over when they search on the term Beth. Even better, my search results may be higher for nonprofits and social media.
Other suggestions for tweaks and changes?
Step 5: Measure
Now I have to measure and compare. What time period?
And if you’re enjoying this blog, please consider subscribing for free.