This post is part of the Student Blog Series, a feature by Nuffnang interns
Author: Kane Jones, Swinburne University
As a keen blogger you will have heard countless times about the important role that social media plays in promoting and growing your blog audience by encouraging engagement with your readers. You’ve no doubt created profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and other various social media platforms and created a following on each.
You may have been lucky enough to have noticed an increase in traffic to your blog and readers engaging with likes, re-tweets and comments on your social media posts. But how can you find out how each of the different platforms are driving eyeballs to your blog and how can you learn what posts work best on each platform to achieve this?
This is where the advanced features of Google Analytics (GA) comes in. You may be already using GA to see the basic traffic stats for your site, but that is merely the tip of a very, very large iceberg.
Incase you haven’t heard of it, GA is an amazingly powerful (and free!) tool from Google that can monitor all traffic on your site and provides you with more data that you could ever dream of. While there are countless features available, there are two tools in particular that you may find useful to explore as a serious blogger to better understand how different platforms are interacting with your blog and over time use this knowledge to grow your blog.
Social Media Acquisition
You may be surprised to discover which platforms are driving traffic to your blog and how users from each are engaging in different ways. For example, despite all your activity in promoting your blog on Facebook, you may be gaining more new traffic from Twitter or Pinterest which could lead you to reconsider your social media strategy (or even develop one if you haven’t already). Take time to study which platforms are delivering you high numbers of first time readers and how they are engaging with your site. Users from different platforms will often have different behaviours – e.g. users from one platform may be spending longer and visiting more pages than from another. Learn what content those readers are interested in and tailor your social media posts to their tastes to encourage them to become regular readers of your blog.
Within this feature you can set up goals (also known as conversions) to measure the success of your social media activity. You may set goals for various things including newsletter signups, time spent on your site or purchase amount if you run an online store. It can be encouraging to see that your hard work promoting your blog paying off by visitors signing up to become regular readers.
So you’ve just finished an amazing blog post and you have shared the link across your various social media platforms. But are you tracking the traffic each individual link is generating to your site? If not, you are missing out on a world of useful information about your audience and how they are responding to what you post.
By utilising GA’s Custom Campaigns URL builder, you can add individual tracking links to each URL you share, which allows you to track the traffic generated by each individual link, rather than simply the origin source as discussed above (eg, Facebook or Twitter as a whole). For example, you might send 3 tweets about your latest blog post out, but use different wording or a new headline in each version. By using individual tracking links and analysing the data collected, you can determine which of these posts is generating the most traffic to your blog. This can help you determine what style of post your audience is engaging with and individually craft your posts for each platform, better connecting with your followers. You may discover when posting the exact same content that it may be a hit on one platform yet fail to gain any traction on another.
Using this tool you can experiment with different ways of posting a link to your blog posts and see which style of social media posts attract the best result. For example, you may wish to compose a number of different Facebook posts to see which works best – e.g simply posting a link, adding a short summary or teaser, including an image or posting a longer summary to try and get readers interested.
There are countless blog posts out there which detail step-by-step instructions on setting up Custom Campaigns and using Google Analytics and its many other features. It may take you a while to fully understand the technicalities of what can seem to be an overwhelming amount of data, but if you are serious about growing your blog it can prove to be an invaluable tool in understanding what your readers and reacting to.
To find out more, Google Analytics has comprehensive guides to Custom Campaigns, Goals and Social Media Analytics.