You need to pick the right hard data points (fancy way of saying metrics) that will help you harvest insights to improve your social media strategy. For blogging, you have to use a couple of different tools to get the different metrics you need. The tools include Google Analytics, PostRank, Feedburner, and others.
Analyzing Your Blog Content With Metrics and Insight
Of course, you need to set overall goals for your blog and understand your audience. Next, you need to know the right metric(s), the tool or combination of tools to collect the data, and how the tools measure the metric. Most importantly, you need a thinking process - either alone or as a team - to harvest insights.
If you want to assess reader interest in one blog post versus another, I'd suggest the following process.
Reader Growth: This is content consumption. There are two different profiles: subscribers and visitors. Subscribers have made a commitment to regularly receiving (and hopefully reading or at least scanning) your blog. Visitors are people who visit your blog. You should be looking at monthly trends over time. This will tell you a lot about reader satisfaction with your content.
- Hard Data Points: Look at the Feed Subscribers trends from Feedburner and Unique Visitors Trends from Google Analytics. Understand how Google Analytics calculates unique visitors and how Feedburner calculates subscribers, but please don't get so hung up on geekiness part of measurement that you don't have time to harvest insights.
- Insight Harvesting: Is the number of visitors and subscribers going up and to the right. If not, why? If yes, why? If no, why? Think about your publishing frequency, length of posts, and mix of topics.
Reader Engagement Index: This how much your readers are interacting with you and your content and sharing your content with others.
- Hard Data Points: For this, I use PostRank scores and pick out all posts that scored a perfect 10. It is based on analysis of the "5 Cs" of engagement: creating, critiquing, chatting, collecting, and clicking. Understand how the model works, but don't get distracted.
- Insight Harvesting: What are the topics? Are these posts longer more in-depth, or short and focused on on-topic? Do they have round up a lot outside resources? What's the tone, formal or informal? Are they tips? What is the quality of the conversation in the comments? What did you learn from the conversation? If you have a group blog, are there differences between authors? Why? Did anything surprise you?
Reader Bookmarking: This is bookmarked content for later retrieval which is some indication of reader value.
- Hard Data Points: You can find out about bookmark saves from PostRank numbers, although the program doesn't make it efficient to grab data over time. Remember bookmarked items can also influence your blog traffic (positively).
- Insight Harvesting: What was the topic of the post? Are they tip posts, resource roundups, or other formats? Are there patterns?
Conversation Rate: This is the commenting and conversation that is happening on your blog.
- Hard Data Points: You can get the most commented posts from PostRank. If you use wordpress, Joost Blog Metrics will give you a post to comment ratio.
- Insight Harvesting: What is the style of the writing? Do posts with more questions in the title and questions in the end generate more comments? Did you do any outreach to encourage commenting? Is there a conversation happening between people who comment? What do you do to facilitate it? What's the quality of the commenting - are you learning? Are the comments positive or negative?
Authority: This is the number of links to a post. This metric gives you indication of the value of the content - that people were linking to it. It can also influence traffic.
- Insight Harvesting: Pull out the top 25 linked posts. Analyze the types of posts (content and format) that get linked and the impact of that linking in referrals using Google Analytics. Are there any patterns?
Page Views: The number of times a page (unit of content) was viewed. Not sure how much this will tell you about your content quality, but it will perhaps give you some insights about your outreach.
- Hard Data Points: You can get this from Google Analytics.
- Insight Harvesting: Why are these blog posts getting higher page views than others? What is the referral traffic? What was your outreach strategy?
- Hard Data Points: There isn't a nonprofit or nonprofit technology blogs version of the Ad Age Ranking of marketing blogs, although there are ways to do this privately. You could analyze your blog using services like compete, commetrics, and Alexa - Alan Benamer has done this.
- Insight Harvesting: Where is my blog on the index, high or low? What are the qualities that top five blogs have in common? How does that compare to my blog?
Five Steps Towards A Metrics Driven Company by Andrew Chen
How To Find the Right Chart for your Numerical Data by Digital Inspiration
The Chart Chooser
- What is your thought and reflection process for insight harvesting?
- What reflective questions do you ask while looking at your data?
- What are some insights that you've harvested about your social media strategy?