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Selling eBooks and Digital Products on Your Blog? You Need to Know About EU VAT-MOSS

This is a guest contribution from freelance writer Jawat Khan.

Ask any professional blogger and he’ll tell you that selling eBooks, eCourses, trainings, tutorials and other forms of digital products is one of the most profitable ways of making a sustainable income from your blog.

It’s not easy, of course.

You need to spend countless hours creating high quality content, responding to reader comments, building relationships, spending money on advertising and creating products that people would gladly pay for.

It’s real hard work. And anyone who’s been on this path knows its challenges, and the personal and professional sacrifices that it demands.

Unfortunately, it just got a whole lot harder.

The EU VAT-MOSS Legislation

The European Union has recently introduced a new value added tax (VAT) that’ll come in to effect from 01 January 2015. This new VAT will be applicable on any digital products that are sold to buyers anywhere in the EU.

And this is where it gets really tough for us.

The tax will be calculated on the basis of the buyer’s location, NOT the seller. So even if you reside outside the EU you’d be required to pay this VAT on each sale that you make to a customer based in any of the 28 EU member states.

So, for example, if you’re a blogger based in Australia and a buyer from Germany or any other EU state purchases an eBook from your blog, YOU will have to pay the VAT on top of your product price.

What’s more, you’d need to collect evidence of your sales that indicate the buyer’s location based on his IP address and credit card information. You’d then need to submit this evidence along with your returns every quarter.

Honestly, one of the best things about making an online income, for me, is the lack of administrative costs and unnecessary legal documentation. But with this VAT, all of us, the bloggers and digital sellers, would need to collect evidence and submit returns on our sales.

To make this process slightly simpler, you can register with any “Mini One Stop Shop” (MOSS) in any EU member state (UK or Ireland being the most convenient). Your VAT will then be distributed to the relevant countries according to their tax rates.

You are also required to keep the record of your sales, as evidence, for at least 10 years to avoid any legal problems in selling to EU customers.

All this is very complex legal stuff.

The objective of this post is not to give you any legal advice. I’m no expert myself. But I just want you to know about the potential repercussions of this law on your blogging income. You should definitely seek professional advice on this matter and study this law in more detail here.

So What Can Be Done About EU VAT-MOSS?

Being a blogger myself, I know you might be confused and upset by this law. Some of the most prominent freelance writers, bloggers and digital sellers have express public outrage on Twitter in reaction to this law. They’ve also started an online petition that is gaining momentum quickly. You can vote on this petition here.

But apart from expressing disappointment at this law, you need to do the following things.

  • Consult with your ecommerce software provider and tell them about this development. You’ll need their help in collecting buyer data as purchase evidence. You need to collect buyer location data based on the IP address and credit card information.
  • You need to keep this record with you for at least 10 years so that you can present it anytime it is required.
  • You need to submit your VAT returns every quarter to MOSS.
  • Or you can take the hard decision and stop selling to EU buyers completely to avoid any of these legal issues. But you’d need the help of your ecommerce software provider here as well, because you’d need to block buyers from selected countries on the basis of their IP address and credit card information. You can’t do it manually.

Several ecommerce software providers have made announcements on what they’re doing about this law and the additional requirements that it has brought with it. PayPal recently announced that they’ll be able to store buyer location with their API. But there hasn’t been any announcement from them about data storage and country blocking.

In the last week, Selz has introduced a series of features that cover all the VAT-MOSS requirements. By enabling the EU VAT-MOSS feature in your Selz dashboard, you can receive automatically degenerated reports about the exact location of your buyers based on their IP address and credit card.

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Selz will calculate the applicable VAT rate in your buyer’s country, which you can add on top of your product’s sales price. It also stores this information for up to 10 years and lets you export it into an excel sheet for MOSS submission.

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In case you decide to completely block EU buyers (approx. 507,000,000 potential customers) Selz allows you to apply country based restrictions on downloads.

Conclusion

There’s a hot debate in the blogging community about the EU VAT-MOSS that will come into effect from 01 January 2015. There’s still some confusion about its application and how it will impact bloggers and digital sellers from different countries. You can follow Twitter updates on this subject on #VATMOSS and #VATMESS hashtags. At the same time, you should make sure that you have the right tools to record the required buyer information for VAT submission, in case the law remains unchanged.

Jawad Khan is a Content Marketing Specialist at Quality Trade, a leading marketing and trading platform for B2B companies. Follow Jawad on Twitter and Google+

Say Goodbye to Bad Habits: Five You Should Ditch in the New Year

Say Goodbye to Bad Habits: Five you should ditch today // problogger.netI don’t know about you, but it’s around this time of year when I start thinking about all the things that didn’t quite work out over the last 12 months in my blogging efforts. Things I got wrong, things I didn’t try hard enough on, things I know I should do better. In short, it’s time to re-evaluate how I blog, so I can blog better.

And what I know for sure is: Next year, I want to blog smarter, not harder. I want to slow down and focus on the priorities and make sure they’re being done properly.

I’ve developed a few bad habits over the years, and from what I’ve heard, I’m not the only one. Let’s refine our workload and jettison these ways of thinking that don’t serve us well. Let’s swap them for a more intelligent strategy that will make our blogs stand out from the crowd and provide use to our readers.

Are you guilty of any of these?

1. Thinking an email list isn’t such a big deal

Well, I hate to break it to you, but it is. It truly is the only method of communicating with your readers that you are in control of. Your words, straight to your reader. No algorithms, no fast-pace feed, just your information they can access at their leisure.

I revamped my site earlier in the year, and didn’t bother putting my email subscribe boxes back in because they didn’t fit the new theme. I didn’t have time to redesign them, and I didn’t want to pay for something I knew I could do myself. My laziness has cost me hundreds of valuable email addresses, and the ability to share what I have with interested people.

I know some bloggers wonder what the point of a mailout is, and wonder if its only people with something to sell who would concern themselves with having one – but it’s invaluable for any blogger who want to reach their audience. Even if you think you will never need email subscribers, offer your readers a way to sign up anyway. You won’t regret that.

2. Forgetting to share your posts on social media

I try to share my posts at the same time each day, both because those times get the most engagement, and also to provide some consistency for readers who get my updates. But often real life got in the way of manually updating my channels, and sometimes it meant I didn’t get anything up all day. I resisted using scheduling tools for a long time, for many reasons, but in the last few months I’ve experimented with a few. I cannot believe how much better my blogging experience is now that I’ve settled on a schedule that works for me, and the ability to schedule my post updates across all social media (except Instagram and Pinterest, I still prefer to do those in the moment) has become so much easier.

I’ve been using CoSchedule for the last month or two on my personal blog and I don’t know how I ever lived without it. An editorial calendar plugin that keeps your content organised and also allows you to schedule social media posts from right within your WordPress dashboard before they’re even published. Your post goes live, and your scheduled social media updates follow after, at a time you’ve pre-chosen. Genius.

3. Wasting time

Oh boy – this has been a big one for me. I work from home with very small children, and I have limited amount of child-free time each week to get a lot of things done. I couldn’t afford to waste a second – but I was wasting lots of them. I found myself either procrastinating or getting caught up in less-important tasks, which left me little time to get the big stuff done. I felt behind the 8 ball for a lot of 2014 until I sat myself down with a big task list and a determination to be in charge of my schedule, instead of letting it be in charge of me.

Some of the biggest things that has turned my productivity around:

  • checking email at certain times only
  • doing specific tasks only on specific days
  • having an editorial calendar
  • timing myself to see exactly how long tasks would take so I’d stop underestimating the time it would take to do something
  • organising tasks in order of priority

4. Failing to have an editorial calendar

Who needs those? I mean, unless you run a themed blog that creates content in line with the holiday calendar, right? Wrong! Part of the problem was that I was wasting time because I didn’t know what to write about. I found that once I sat down with either a headline or a topic, I could write a post no problem. But if I was sitting down to a blank slate, I wrote less than half of the posts that I needed to.

It didn’t take long – just a few minutes of brainstorming, and a few more minutes shuffling that around to certain points on the calendar. I always know in advance what I’m expected to do, so I find that I waste less time and get more done. I challenge you to come up with 12 post ideas right now – and you will know at least one thing you will be writing per month next year. Or create a theme a month and write to that theme as the year goes by. Go on – you only need 10 minutes, a pen, and a piece of paper.

5. Ignoring networks

I get it – you’re shy. Or you think your blog isn’t “big” enough to play in the big leagues. Well, I’m not sure how you expect to get in the big leagues if you don’t chat with the people who are either already there, or trying to get there too. While you might think there is a hierarchy of people out there in blogland, the reality is there’s room for everyone. Get chatting with other bloggers, no matter who they are. Jump in on Twitter conversations, start discussions on your Facebook page, join a linkup or blog hop, lend a hand to a fellow blogger in a group or forum asking for advice. Share other bloggers’ posts, link to them on your site, invite other writers on your blog, and offer to guest post for other sites in your niche.

If you ask any “big” blogger what was a turning point for them, or how they managed to grow their traffic, more often than not, you’ll hear them say that another blogger bigger than them linked to their content. It’s a world of collaboration, and it will get you further than where you’re going on your own. Make a friend!

So I dare you to ditch these bad blogging habits before the year is out. Replace them with smarter ways of driving your blog forward and increasing the enjoyment you get from it.

Which ones are you striking off your list this year? What will you do instead?

Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome!).

 

Care to Share? What Was YOUR Most Popular Post of 2014?

Share your most popular posts of 2104

So last week we went right through the top five posts on ProBlogger 2014 in each of the categories of monetization, creating content, social media, writing, and general tips. Some of them were surprising, but most weren’t – good advice is good advice, after all! I know a lot of you have seen real results from making these changes to the way you work.

So what we wanted to know was – what is the most popular post on your blog this year? Can you see why it was popular? And more importantly – what can you learn from it that will help you for your content next year? Is it a topic you can find a new angle on? Something you can update for your readers? Something you can turn into a series, an eBook, an eCourse? Is it a topic you enjoyed writing about? Is there a way you can repackage it, say as an audio file or a slideshare? The possibilities are endless, and having information you know your readers already resonate with is a great place to start.

So link up your most popular post in the comments and share it with the ProBlogger community. If you read one you love, tweet it to your friends and followers. I can’t wait to see all the different genres everyone covers.

Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome!).

Most Popular Posts on ProBlogger 2014: General Tips

This week we’ve covered the five most popular posts in the areas of monetization, content, social media, and writing tips. Today we bring you the top 5 general tips that readers found most useful. I hope they do to you too! Read it now, or pin for later.

ProBlogger Popular Posts of 2014: General Tips - we covered grammar mistakes, one thing to do daily that will change your blogging, SEO must-dos, project management websites, and if Content isn't King - then what is?

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1. 5 Quick Grammar Tips to Improve Your Writing – Plus Free Downloadable Cheat Sheet

A super-handy overview of apostrophes, when to use that/which/who, when to use “everyday” vs. “every day”, commas, and capitalization. The cheat sheet is perfect for printing out and leaving it in your workspace so you’re never stuck with a grammar issue again.

Image by zev

Image by zev

2. Spend 10 Minutes Doing This Every Day and You Could Transform Your Blogging

We even started doing it at ProBlogger HQ at our regular meetings.

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3. Publish Your Blog Post Without SEO and Thousands of Visits will be Forever Lost

SEO kingpin Rand Fishkin stopped by ProBlogger to give us the absolute ultimate in SEO advice. Simple things you can do right now to ensure you’re getting the maximum exposure of your work.

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4. Top 10 Web-Based Personal Project Management Tools

You’re looking for a sweet app to streamline your worklife? Us too. Here are 10 of them that will keep you (and your team, if you have one) on track.

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5. Content isn’t King: Here’s What is

I know I’ve made this mistake in 2014 with my own blog. Content is great – but useful content is what gets you places. Are you useful?

 

Did you use these tips this year? Have you figured out a way to serve your readers by meeting their needs with your blog? I’d love to hear it!

Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome!).

 

Most Popular Posts on ProBlogger 2014: Writing Tips

So useful content is king, and we need to provide it consistently. But how? And what if writing isn’t our strong suit? I always find that writing tips, guides, and productivity hacks score high in the interest scale of ProBlogger readers. These were the five most-read posts this year.

Problogger best of 2104: Writing Tips

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1. 6 Lessons in Writing Irresistibly Magnetic Blog Post Headlines

We all know headlines are what can make or break your post: if your headline sucks, people just won’t read. This post has six ways to nail it, every time.

Image via Flickr user Dan Patterson

Image via Flickr user Dan Patterson

2. 9 Crucial Tips for Self-Editing Your Blog Posts (That Everybody Can Use)

Tend to waffle? you won’t after reading these super-easy tips.

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3. How to Repurpose Your Content (and Why You Should do it)

Darren gives us a hefty post filled with great ideas on ways to take what you’ve already written and package it anew. A very effective use of resources.

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4. 15 Quick and Easy Productivity Hacks for Busy Bloggers

We all waste time – Pooja shows us how to cut out the crap so we can make the most use of the time we have.

Image via Flickr user Toni Birrer

Image via Flickr user Toni Birrer

5. In a Blog Slump? Here’s what to do

When you’ve lost your writing mojo, everyone is succeeding but you, and you feel like throwing your laptop out the window – these are my top tips to get back in the game and feel the love again.

 

So what about you? I’m willing to bet you’ve slumped at least one time in 2014. What was the best writing tip you picked up this year?

Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome!).

Most Popular Posts on ProBlogger 2014: Social Media

Social media and how to navigate it was, again, a big issue in 2014. Which platform is best? How do we use it effectively? Are we still using Google Plus? Where did everyone on Twitter go? These are the answers we found…

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1. 5 Ways to Promote Your Blog Without Relying on Google Traffic

As Darren has said before, putting all your eggs in the Google basket can be risky (and devastating – he almost lost his business). We learned how to boost our traffic without relying on the Google fallback.

2. How to Socialize Your Posts for Maximum Effect

What’s the point of promoting our blogs on social media if nobody is reading it? This Theme Week post had great tips on how to be effective across the board to drive traffic back to your site.

3. Facebook Theme Week: Boost Your Organic Reach with These Tips

2014 made one thing abundantly clear: not everyone wanted to pay to be seen on Facebook. In fact, some bloggers really resented it. We delved into what strategies are effective on Facebook to work with their algorithms instead of against them. We outlined the best ways to organically reach the majority of our audience with what we have to promote.

4. Facebook Theme Week: Case Studies of Popular Pages and What They’re Doing to Get Great Engagement

Another post in our week-long discussion about what the biggest Facebook pages in the world were doing to interact with their fans and drive up engagement. It turns out their strategies are very simple – and they’re all ones we can do, too.

5. A Social Media Etiquette Guide You Might Find Useful

An in-depth infographic that laid it all bare: What’s, right, what’s wrong, and what works? On what platform? You’ll find it very comprehensive.

 

What do you think? Do you struggle with Facebook too? Given up on G+?

Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome!).

Most Popular Posts on ProBlogger 2014: Creating Content

Content is King, as they say (or is it?!) so it’s no wonder that this topic was one of the most popular this year. Write great, useful content and promote it well – it’s the baseline for a successful blog.

Which of these top five posts resonates with you?

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1. How to Consistently Come up with Great Post Ideas for Your Blog

Part of our Creating Content Theme Week, a behemoth post of advice that will mean you will never be stuck for a post idea again.

Create Content To Promote Your Blog

2. How to Promote Your Blog with Content that Will Grow Your Traffic, Links, and Shares

It’s everything you want in one package: how to get traffic, links, and shares. Tips on how to get your content to shine.

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3. Three Ways to Define What Your Blog is About

Do you need a niche? What would you say yours was? Darren gives us the ins and outs of making a stand on your genre.

HOW TO CREATE MASSIVE VALUE CONTENT

4. Create Massive Value Content and Blow Your Readers’ Minds

If you followed the very first link on this page, you’ll find what is actually King – and this post will help you provide it for your readers.

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5. Content Week Case Study: Carly Heitlinger of the College Prepster on Where She Gets Her Ideas

Carly has barely missed a day blogging in six years. Here’s how she keeps content fresh, current, and more importantly – consistent.

 

What do you think? Anything to add on how to create great content? Where do YOU get your ideas?

Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome!).

Most Popular Posts on ProBlogger 2014: Monetization

We’ve covered so much ground here on ProBlogger this year, and much of it about monetization – here are the top five posts this year in that category. Have you made the changes you read about in these posts? Which ones did you miss? Take this chance now to catch up – or pin it for future reference.

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Image via Flickr user Susy Morris

Image via Flickr user Susy Morris

1. Making the Impossible Possible: How I Created a Full-Time Blogging Income with No Qualifications

It seems like Stacey Corrin’s story of turning her passion into profit in just three months was a hit with you guys. And who can blame it – the majority of readers here want to make some kind of income from their blogs, and full-time seems like the jackpot. Some great tips in this post from someone who has been there, done that.

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2. How I Doubled My Unique Visitors in Six Months (and Tripled Them in a Year)

This is a post I wrote after seeing tremendous growth on my personal blog in 2012. Some real, practical take-home strategies you can do today to boost your traffic.

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3. 9 World-Class Bloggers Share Their #1 List-building Tip

A few famous faces gave their top tip for creating the best email list possible. Everything from content to plugins and download incentives is covered.

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4. Partnering with Brands Theme Week: Ways to Collaborate and Earn an Income on Your Blog

Aussie super-blogger Nikki Parkinson of Styling You gives the lowdown on how to make a brand-blog collaboration really shine. Nikki’s advice on ways to work together and how to get brands on side are not to be missed.

The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Media Kit // ProBlogger.net

5. The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Media Kit

Another one from our Working With Brands Theme Week – everything you need to know to create a kickass media kit, all in one place. Remember – less is more!

 

Did you catch these throughout the year? Have you found the tips useful? I’d love to chat!

Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome!).

New Facebook Changes: Target your Audience Effectively

FACEBOOKchangesyou need to know about

 

If you are one of the many people confused by Facebook and its ever-changing algorithms, you’ll be pleased to know they’ve recently made some favourable changes to their operating system.

I see it everywhere – bloggers desperately trying to reach their Facebook audience, and being thwarted at every turn. Facebook has been experimenting a lot this year with delivering the best, most tailored newsfeed to its users, but at the cost of our readers seeing posts. We dedicated an entire week to decoding Facebook earlier this year – from sticking with organic reach practises to experimenting with paid ads. Both can work, but a complaint I hear often is that it’s getting to be more of a pay-to-play platform.

In both the Facebook Advertising webinar and the post we did on how to effectively target your audience, we covered the gamut of targeting options available. However, with the recent changes to targeting and tools, it is easier than ever to only show your posts to those who are interested, and to save different types of posts for different kinds of audiences.

New Facebook Tools Changes

Facebook has introduced very selective targeting options for you to really drill down and capture the right readership for your blog (or even specific posts or pages on your blog) every time you post.

Available to those who have enabled the Targeting and Privacy setting, you can now use it to provide posts to a subset of your audience.

Have a recipe post? You can now choose to show it to the part of your readership who have indicated to Facebook they like food or cooking. People who aren’t interested in that won’t see the post. But they will see a post they are interested in, based on their likes and dislikes.

Post End Date

Have a time-sensitive post? You can choose a particular date it will stop showing up in newsfeeds… but it will still be visible on your page. Again, only available to those who have enabled Targeting and Privacy, and it’s only available on desktop at the moment.

Smart Publishing

Take the guesswork out of what your audience will resonate with. Can be hard to predict, so Facebook have rolled out to a select few media organizations (for now) the ability to identify and publish stories that are already popular with the folk on Facebook.

Frequently-shared links to your website will appear in the newsfeed of people who like your page. They won’t appear on your page, but you’ll get a whole new dashboard of insights and ability to moderate comments.

Page admins can opt in from the Publisher Tools section within Page Settings.

Insights

While reasonably in-depth, your current insights will now be even more descriptive. With a better overview, you can even more effectively understand and optimize your content for success.

It’s even easier now to see where your content is going with the addition of information about people and pages that share your links.

There are also changes made to the type of insights you have access to, and how your page and plugins drive traffic to sites.

You can find out more information, and keep up with further Facebook announcements here.

So what do you think? Will this make marketing on Facebook easier for you?

 

Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome!).

 

Get Social Media Right: Five Things you Just Can’t Miss

This is a guest contribution from Pratik Dholakiya.

There’s no doubt social media is important for businesses to engage with potential and existing customers. It’s marketing 101. Since it’s the de facto “I’ll let the world know what I think about this product or brand” medium, it’s also a unique channel where companies and businesses now face intense scrutiny.

Social media is best used for engagement. It’s a powerful tool that finally lets companies (of any size) get one-to-many with its customer base. Social media allows you to sell (without actually pushing).

At least 72% of people surveyed by HootSuite state that they are likely to buy from a company they first interacted on Twitter, for instance. There’s also a 30% in unsolicited recommendations.

With more than 500 million tweets a day and over 230 million active users, your customers are on Twitter, which is proving to be a great way to improve customer relationships. Facebook – with a user base over a billion and counting – continues to be the mainstay for B2C companies.

LinkedIn meanwhile is a great platform to establish your social presence, attract clients, employees, vendors, and even investors.

On social media conversation, share, and engagement is a direct result of your updates performing. If social media provides amplification for your content assets, the right metrics help you measure that amplification.

However, there are production costs associated with those updates. People, time, tools, resources are all under the anvil. So, how do you finalize your key performance indicators, measure the metrics that are important and determine if they’re the one that can deliver maximum ROI? Here are some of the top indicators every social media marketer should pin to the wall.

Business Assets

Today, content can be classified as a business asset. Assets are built to perform. Analytics help you understand how your assets perform over time in line with your business strategy. But just because something exists doesn’t mean it’s important. With so many metrics out there for a marketer to measure, life just got harder for content marketers.

For contemporary content marketers, metrics are best classified into classes, and then each asset must be measured against the overall performance of the asset class it comes under.

Cyfe is a single tool that helps you aggregate all of your asset classes in one place. You can pull in the numbers from the various sources, channels, campaigns (organic and paid), and maintain a single view for analytics. Chris Abraham of Socialmedia.biz termed it as One Dashboard to Rule Them All.

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Cyfe integrates with social media networks, email marketing tools, and all other major sources for your traffic, revenue, or sales. Cyfe also plugs into campaign data from Google Adwords, Bing Ads, Yahoo Advertising, retargeting networks, and with Facebook paid campaigns.

It helps you mitigate these challenges that metrics carry:

  • Metrics are numbers. But the actual transaction flow – from the time a prospect first knows about your business to the point of sale – isn’t straightforward.
  • One single metric, by itself, doesn’t mean much.
  • Metrics are best understood in clusters.

Time Vs Production

Time has a cost to it – a direct one at that. Although this metric is an internal assessment for your team to ponder on and get better at, it has a direct correlation to the rest of the metrics.

  • If there’s an editorial calendar, planned per day, for the period of time, how are the deadlines being met?
  • For every specific content asset, how long does it take to create and publish/
  • How many different types of content are produced and published for a specific period of time?

Use Excel or any other tool/software you are comfortable with but measure these to get your internal processes in shape.

Retention

Social media retention is hard to get at, especially given that social updates have a miserable shelf life of about three hours on average, according to Pamela Vaughan of HubSpot.

According to her post,

  • The mean half-life of a link on Twitter is 2.8 hours.
  • The mean half-life of a link on Facebook is 3.2 hours.
  • The mean half-life of a link via ‘direct’ sources such as email or instant messaging clients is 3.4 hours.
  • The mean half-life of a link on YouTube is 7.4 hours.

Given these numbers, you’d have a vested interest in looking at the effectiveness of your social media assets beyond the initial contact. For your social updates, you’d need to look at:

  • Tracking follower or fan growth over a period of time.
  • The ability of each social update to garner interest in the form of likes, Tweets, and interactions with each update.

For Twitter, as an example, here’s a sample snapshot of Twitter growth for the last 28 days:

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You also get to see demographic information, interests of your followers, and gender distribution as follows:

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Engagement and Sharing

Social media is “social”. Unlike any other media, there’s the question of reach, engagement, and sharing that’s critical to this media. Traditional publishing depending on reach alone. Social brings in engagement and sharing too.

The more engagement, reach, and share your social updates can manage to stir up, the better it is for your business for multiple reasons. Tools like HootSuite and Buffer App already provide built in analytics for you to dig into. Each social network, meanwhile, also provides analytics on how your social web properties perform.

Facebook provides insights. LinkedIn has analytics. Twitter just rolled out activity dashboard to let you see how your Tweets perform including link clicks, engagement, retweets, replies, and instances of your Tweets being marked as favorites.

For each social network, the important engagement and sharing metrics will include (but not limited to):

  • Number of impressions or reach per update.
  • Activity level around engagement per update.
  • Retweets, shares, likes, comments, and responses per update.

Lead Metrics

Vanity metrics don’t mean a thing. They really don’t. Except for massaging your ego, there’s nothing else vanity metrics do for you. Jay Baer of Convince and Convert writes:

“The end goal is action, not eyeballs.”

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All the branding, engagement, and sharing later, it’s finally about leads. Kevan Lee of Buffer Blog wrote the ultimate guide on social metrics and gets right to the point with an emphasis on leads.

A conversion is that metric you should hang on to. Defined as the number of leads generated from the sum total of social updates, amplification, engagement, and reach.

If you use a tool like Snip.ly, you can also measure direct metrics like clicks originating through each update. This nifty tool also helps you measure conversions (originating from links within social updates) to specific destinations such as landing pages and website pages.

This is the point where all the talk about social media ROI begins to make sense. Taking it a bit further, these are the metrics social hawks at Moz are looking at. The folks at Moz talk about relative engagement rates. Their point is simple: the conversion rate on Facebook isn’t the same as engagement that comes from your Instagram or Pinterest account.

They recommend a tool like TrueSocialMetrics, which helps calculate the true economic value of your social marketing across specific platforms.

Over to You

With social media, the numbers aren’t hard to get. The only thing that matters is your analytical interpretation of those numbers and how they relate to your business goals.

In short,

  • Ignore vanity metrics.
  • Define your goals, classify your metrics, and measure what matters.
  • Conversions are still the real metrics that matter.

How do you measure your social metrics? What are you on the lookout for? What kind of numbers are you busy crunching?

Pratik Dholakiya is the Co-Founder & VP of Marketing of E2M and MoveoApps. He’s passionate about fitness, entrepreneurship, start-ups and all things digital marketing. Hit him up on Twitter @DholakiyaPratik for a quick chat.