Social media influencers use the number of followers to show that their work has impact--value. Bloggers bandy around their pageviews as a yardstick. But what all these numbers lack is context. Without context a number is meaningless. You can't tell whether it's helping you accomplish your goals or not.
In July, I decided to see if I could add context to my social media numbers. I now record the size of each of my social media networks, my pageviews here, the number of sessions generated here by each social media network, and the number of new users to The Road To The Good Life. The context is not perfect, but it's a start. Here's how I did on my brand awareness goal of driving new users.
Social Media Platform Growth for August through September 2015
Because I put a lot of effort into my various social media platforms, the general growth of each community is important to me.
On the face, these numbers don't look good or bad. Comparing them against a previous period 36 days versus 50 days, we can come up with expected values for growth on each platform. When comparing, I'm not looking at the period growth numbers in the chart as the number of days between measurements differs. (NOTE: I'll be adjusting my spreadsheet going forward to include the estimated growth along with whether or not I missed, met, or exceeded the estimate.)
Instead I'm looking at the number of followers or fans gained per day and estimating what a the numbers should be for a longer period. Based on the previous period growth rate, Twitter should have been 23.6 or 24 additional followers; 22 is slightly lower than expected but not by much. Facebook should have been 13.88 or 14 additional followers; again 12 is slightly lower than expected but not by much. Pinterest is slightly higher than expected 35 versus 33.33 or 33 as is Google+ at 11 versus 8.33 or 8. Instagram is much lower than the previous month--the result of very little posting and inconsistent participation in weekly memes.
Because I added a social media platform, Periscope, the overall impact to my total reach due to the lower than expected Instagram growth is slightly offset. (NOTE: Total Reach is not the sum of the listed social media platforms, it includes a few others that I'm not currently focused on.)
Site Traffic Report for September 2015
There are many factors that affect a site's traffic. On my way to 500 posts, I realized that quantity and consistency were the fastest way for me to drive (and keep) traffic levels. Then I posted between two to three times a week. I now post between two to four times a month: in September 2015, I published two posts here on The Road To The Good Life, down from the three I posted in August. Based on posting less I assumed that my site traffic would be down.
If you took a peek at the 500 post report, you may have noticed I was tracking pageviews. Since June 2015, I've started looking only at sessions and users.
- Users gives me an idea of how many people I reached.
- Sessions are how many times a person visited before the cookie was reset (30 minutes of inactivity or at the end of a calendar day).
- Pageviews shows how many pages on the site the person views.
While I assumed my site traffic would be down because I posted less in September than August and didn't post to social media while at Burning Man, it wasn't. (And not because it appears I was measuring two months of traffic, the Google Analytics numbers recorded on 9/28/2015 were for the previous 30 days.) On August 30 and 31, 2015 I ran a Facebook Ad which generated additional site traffic that I had not accounted for.
Referrals from Social Media Channels
Many social media influencers decry Facebook as dead for bloggers and Pinterest as the main traffic driver. This has never been the case for me. Twitter and Facebook drive traffic for me and September was no different.
15% Increase in Facebook Referrals for $5
After reading an article by Peg Fitzpatrick about the effectiveness of Facebook ads, I decided to try them--the first at the beginning of June and the second at the end of August.
In September 2015, 22% of new users came from Facebook, up from my baseline of 7% without a Facebook ad running. The $5 I spent for a Facebook ad works out to about 7 cents a new reader. I'll be watching % of returning visitors as well as sessions generated by Facebook over the next few months to see how many stick around.
Unlike other social media platforms, Instagram doesn't permit live URLs in captions. This means that unless someone clicks on the link in your profile you won't see an Instagram referral show up in Google Analytics.
However, there are other ways to track conversion: someone clicking the URL in your profile or entering a shortened URL you provide (I use bit.ly).
- Ingredients: Black Plums - 5 clicks (0.495% conversion rate)
- Recipe: Chopped Apple Pear Cake - 1 click (0.10% conversion rate)
Net Income for September 2015
Net Income equals Revenue less Expenses.
$848.85 - $167.47 = $681.38.
Revenue and expenses are broken down as follows:
September is typically a slower month for me--with a week off attending Burning Man--and this year was no exception, revenue was down from August.
- Freelance Writing: $648.00
- Sponsored Posts: $200.00
- Google AdSense: $0.85
- Amazon Associate: $0.00
- Hosting: $14.99
- Social Media Posting/Monitoring: $152.48 ($1.49 + $5.99 + $145)
Social Media Platform Goals for October 2015
In anticipation of networking opportunities at the beginning of January 2016, I want stronger presences on my social media platforms, especially on Pinterest and Periscope. The numbers I'm swinging for are:
- Twitter: 2,000 followers
- Facebook: 700 fans
- Instagram: 1,500 followers
- Pinterest: 1,000 followers
- Google+: 500 followers
- Periscope: 250 followers
What are you doing to get there?
Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.