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What Content Works Where? Smarter Traffic (and Revenue) Building Through Social Media

Every time we publish a post on social media here at ProBlogger, readers comment that social media takes so much time—how can they get smarter about it?

Girl using computer

Image courtesy pictureYouth, licensed under Creative Commons

Today I wanted to give you a quick way to get a better handle on your social media activities, in about five minutes, using nothing more than your site stats (I’m using Google Analytics).

You don’t need to get any software or be using a certain tool to share your content. This is just a short, quick technique that anyone can use—social media newbie or superstar.

Is your social media “working”?

First, let’s look at the question we’re trying to answer here. Most of us want to know that we’re getting some return on investment on social media, but we also want to improve our work within each network, so that our communications are more targeted, and our returns keep improving.

So the broad question, “Is social media really working for me?” or “Is it worth my time?” are probably better refined to:

  • How much traffic am I getting from social media?
  • What’s that doing for my bottom line?
  • How can I improve on those figures?

That first question is very easily answered; any stats package will tell you how many unique visitors and pageveiws your blog is getting through social channels. It’ll also tell you what percentage of your traffic overall comes from those sources.

You can easily extrapolate that to an actual (if approximate) ROI provided you have an idea of the value you get from, say, each ad impression on your blog. Divide that by the number of hours you spend each month or week on social media and you’ll know exactly how much money you’re making for your time right now. It’ll be harder to track the ongoing, growing value of that time expenditure in less tangible terms, like what it’s doing for authority-building within your niche. But this is a start.

Similarly, if you have a special promotion you’ve been plugging through social media, you should be able to track how much traffic it’s sending to your landing page. And if it’s a dedicated landing page for social media traffic, you’ll be able to clearly see how well that traffic’s converting.

But what about the last question: How can I improve those figures?

The answer lies in looking a little more closely at what, specifically, is pulling the traffic through from each network.

An analysis

If you’re not sure how your social networks are performing when it comes to generating traffic, you might be surprised to look at your stats. Here are the most popular URLs on ProBlogger for the last month, for Twitter:

  1. 40 Cool Things to Do with Your Posts After You Hit Publish
  2. Ramit Sethi Exposed: How He Earns Millions Blogging
  3. Neil Patel’s Guide to Writing Popular Blog Posts
  4. Grow Your Blog Business: The Earn Millions in Your Flip-flops Framework [Case Study]
  5. How to Make $30,000 a Year Blogging.

And here are the most popular for Facebook:

  1. 15 Bloggers to Watch in 2013
  2. 40 Cool Things to Do with Your Posts After You Hit Publish
  3. Are You Wasting Time Guest Posting?
  4. Can You REALLY Make Money Blogging? 7 Things I Know About Making Money from Blogging
  5. 20 Linkbaiting Techniques.

What stands out to me here, above all else, is the potential for older content (like that last post in the Facebook list, which was from 2006!) to get traffic through reshares.

Obviously, with all your stats at your fingertips, you can go much further than the top five, but this snapshot gives a fairly clear picture of the differences between the content that appeals to the users of different networks.

Even at a glance, we might make some hypotheses based on these results:

  • Twitter users in this space prefer case studies and personal advice that comes with a sense of authority.
  • Facebook users in this space like list posts.
  • The most popular topics on Twitter seem to be about making money blogging.
  • The most popular topics on Facebook are about blog promotion techniques.

So of course, the next step is to test those hypotheses. I could go back into the stats archive to see if those statements are true over, say, the last six months. And I could test those statements using articles I have queued up for the next week or month.

There seems to be a bit of a dichotomy between headlines that work well on each network, so I could try different headlines on different types of posts and see how that goes. But it’s also important to remember that reshares aren’t just about headlines—they’re also about content.

So rather than just coming up with some great direct, list-style headlines for list posts in an effort to boost traffic from Facebook, I could see try other types of headlines on some list posts, and see how they perform on that network. In this way I can narrow down how important the headline is on each social network, as well as which types of content are likely to do well.

What next?

As I mentioned, this kind of analysis doesn’t take long—a five-minute review once a week (or, more likely for me, once a month!) will give me the information I need.

This information can help me shape my content to attract more users from each network, but it can also help me to devise information products or offers that best suit each network’s users. This can, again, help me optimize clickthroughs and conversions from those sources.

The more I get to know the data over time, the more effectively I can communicate to users of each network about things that interest them, and in ways that impact them. This can help me to build broad rapport but also to do market research, make valuable relationships, and more.

Not bad for a five-minute review! Of course, there’s a lot more you can do around social media tracking and assessment. But as I explained at the outset of this post, I wanted to show all those bloggers who think social media takes too much time that getting quantitative answers about the return on that investment isn’t hard or time-consuming.

And neither is making use of that information to make your social networking even more productive.

What sorts of social media traffic and revenue tracking do you do? Let us know in the comments.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. This is something my team and I are working on not only with social media, but with our entire “eco-system” (to borrow a phrase from Chris Brogan). The two words we’ve been focusing on is “redundancy” and “extension”. Our goal is to not be redundant in the work that we do or the content that we create, and to extend the usage of our social media platforms and content. I think when people start blogging (like us) there is a tendency to want to pump out a ton of content and gain followers everywhere with no real plan. But by taking time to focus, execute, and assess regularly, we’re able to balance our blog with our services and new product! :)

  2. A few months ago I started working on my titles; making them more appealing so people would want to click on them. I also started linking to older blog posts within my posts. I’ve read this advice many many times here on ProBlogger, but never took the time to do it. I found myself in autodrive mode when I was blogging. This change made a HUGE difference to my traffic and I’m finally starting to see my bounce rate go down.

    Kimberly

  3. Thanks Darren for this quick review. It is so easy to overlook the obvious when analyzing data. It comes back to the KISS principle. We often get so hung up in getting too detailed with analysis rather than the quick and simple snapshot that often gives us the the best information.

    It is also very interesting to see how older posts like the Facebook post are still getting shares and riving traffic. It just goes to show that good quality content always stands the test of time.

  4. Mitz Pantic says:

    I haven’t really hit on the right Social Media audience yet, well for the tech industry anyway. In the blogging niche it is easy to find like minded bloggers in Social Media but most of them are not the customers I need.

    I still find forums or Youtube two great sources of traffic as you know exactly what you will get, a highly targeted visitor. If another website has a great traffic source then I would use that site for traffic too! But some sites concentrate on just getting traffic and have no idea that it is rubbish and a waste of time.

    I have checked my stats to see if I can earn money from Social traffic and it is possible but there seems to be better traffic sources to spend time on.

  5. Matt Hayden says:

    You can also see a great deal off difference in engagement levels according to the overall genre of content that you share. For example, when I share posts from my politically oriented blogs on Twitter, they usually get several clicks — sometimes ten or twenty.

    I have another Twitter account that I use to share my social media and SEO oriented content from my other blogs. When I share that stuff, it gets fewer clicks. It’s interesting because I’ve got about the same number of followers for each account.

  6. Eric says:

    This is a great list of resources, examples, and information that I can really learn and grow from. I love how practical and quick like you shared some of these steps are of just reviewing, taking the extra time, and making some great!

    Always enjoy and learn something new when I read from problogger!

    Thanks again,

    Eric

  7. Dan Erickson says:

    I can see what social media is doing through Google Analytics and I do think there is a heavy time investment for the return. Facebook and Stumbleupon seem to get me the most amount of traffic. Twitter, Linkedin and GooglePlus not as much.

    • I have always found Stumbleupon to be a great place to receive traffic from. It’s traffic always seems to have a high bounce rate, but it’s nice to have the possibility of entertaining my readers when it arrives.

      Any tips you focus on to keep Stumbleupon traffic?

  8. Manesh says:

    The influence of social media has affected many other things..more “likes ” to this article, lesser the comments. In most blogs these comments have decreased a lot. There will be more “likes” and “shares” than commenting. More traffic thru socia media than direct reads. :) Is the time arrived to have a saturation level to the booming up of soical media sites?

  9. rahul says:

    very nice post…i am a great fan of your blog…keep up the good work…:)

  10. The Facebook page for my blog takes time and I really worry whether it’s worth all the trouble. But whenever I share something on FB, there’s a traffic spike and heightened activity. I never considered re-posting old articles that are doing quite well. It’s something I would do more often, since it hardly takes any time.

  11. John says:

    well, This is true that if you are placing the content on the right place then you can get traffic from social media websites. It is not easy to work good on social media websites !
    Thank you

  12. Great post Darren, and very timely for me. I am working a lot on metrics for social media and tracking what actually works, these tips are a good help.

    For me of course, the potential SEO benefits also need to be factored in (where Twitter is concerned especially), although this is trickier of course.

    With smaller projects where the client has little Twitter presence I often recommend tracking growth of followers (and quality thereof) against activities to try to determine which activities are having the biggest social media benefit.

    The upside to focussing on this is that, in the early days at least, it can be hard for Social activity to produce a positive ROI, but if you look at it as more of a long term project it can have a much better chance of being worthwhile.

    When you talk about working out your hourly earnings based on traffic driven (and an approximate ROI), how would you factor in building a following? ie. What if a given activity produces a small trickle of traffic, but also helps build a following which may later lead to bigger streams of traffic?

  13. Joan says:

    Thanks for the info. When I write new content, I always reference old content in my posts. I’m working on building more & more traffic but what posts I do have are being read and a lot. Stats for the past 30 days is 99 unique visitors, 247 visits and 4792 page views,19.40 pages per visit, average duration 7:48, bounce rate 4.05%, new visitors 39.68%. I just started with facebook, which I’m late on. Tried to do all the tweaks and settings on my blog myself and finally decided to hire someone to help me out with it. What takes me an hour to figure out and do takes someone else a few minutes.

  14. JM Balicano says:

    I’ve really had a bit of success building traffic specifically through facebook. i wrote an article that featured a local phone brand and posted it on their facebook page and when they featured it, it sent my traffic through the roof! now if only i can get accepted to adsense :-/ google policies.. urghh..

  15. Hey,

    Very nice post.Social media plays a vital role in increasing the traffic of the blog.

    Thanks,
    Jenifer Taylor