It used to be that one metric—website visitors—could accurately depict the growth of your online empire. Well, thanks to social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare; and social bookmarking tools like Digg and Delicious, how you measure your success online has drastically changed.
In addition to their website, many companies now have multiple online destinations like Twitter pages, YouTube channels and Facebook Fan Pages. Each of those destinations plays a part in your business’ online metrics equation.
Recently, a coaching client and I were going over her monthly metrics report. She was dismayed to see that her blog traffic had not increased as much as expected. But, when we dug a little deeper into the metrics, it turns out that her number of RSS subscribers had increased! We reasoned that traffic didn’t increase as we thought it would because people had subscribed to her blog and her RSS feed allows you to read the full blog post. She now understands that she has to look at the whole metrics picture to see how she’s doing online.
And, so should you. Here’s what to look for...
Let’s say you’ve decided to write a thought leadership blog post in which you coin a new term. You publish the post and wait for someone to comment. But, the comments don’t come and if they do, it’s a trickle and certainly not the landslide of feedback you were hoping for. The thing is, you can’t consider just comments—you need to take a wider look. Many times blog posts I write get no comments, but they’re retweeted and shared often on Twitter.
The first questions to ask yourself are:
- Did I ensure that the link to the blog post was disseminated as widely as possible?
- Do I have sharing tools like TweetMeme, AddThis or ShareThis installed on my blog?
- Did I add a link to the blog post in my newsletter?
- Did I update my network status on LinkedIn with a link to the blog post?
- Did I share the link on Twitter? Did I ask friends to do the same?
- Did I update my status on Facebook?
- Did I add a link to the blog post to our Facebook Fan Page?
- How many times was this post or the idea shared on Twitter?
- Is anyone talking about it on Facebook?
- Has anyone bookmarked it on any of the social bookmarking sites?
- Has another blogger wrote a response or elaborated on the topic on their own blog?
- Are people mentioning the topic on LinkedIn?
Keeping track of all of this sounds ideal, but to do so is a full-time job in itself. So, instead of conducting all the searches yourself, which would take forever and would only show you results that have happened already, you might want to use a tool like Viral Heat that feeds the results back to you. Free tools like Twilert.com, Google Alerts and LinkedIn’s Company Buzz are also helpful if your budget is tight or you want to ease into tracking this new and diverse data points.
It’s important to note that even if you are not actively using Twitter or Facebook, you need to have your ears open on those channels. Just because your brand isn’t present, doesn’t mean people aren’t talking… and you need to know what they’re saying.
The drivers of metrics have changed, but the basics haven’t. Start spreading the word yourself, make it easy for others to do the same, and don’t just count on the usual metrics suspects when it comes to discerning how well you’re doing online.