Paying Attention to the Here and Now: Real-Time Analytics
It’s easy to focus all of our measurements on historical data, and often that is the place to understand the long-term results of your marketing program’s success. But there are a few things you can learn from real-time analytics (what’s happening on your site now) that can also be used to measure and guide your social media programs.
First off, I need to give another shout to my favorite real-time dashboard, Gaug.es, (here is the full review of Gaug.es) where I get a view into my current day’s activity. And with Gaug.es I can glance several client’s sites at once to quickly IDENTIFY and ACT on current traffic and trends.
This information is current at 3:30am, when I’m writing this post, so it doesn’t have a lot of data, but even now, I can look at what’s trending in time zones other than the US. (Do you pay attention to what’s happening on you site during the non-US business hours? It might be important.)
And the coolest thing about Gaug.es (I’m a paying customer, not a paid promoter — this is called "earned" media) is I can see all of my client’s at once, and can toggle through their real-time data on the fly. Two other real-time options are Google Analytics real-time dashboard and Woopra.
Now let’s dive into the data, even at 3:30 am CST and see what gems of activity we can uncover and accelerate using social media.
Real-Time Top 5 Posts
What I look for in the top 5:
1. Older content making a showing. This is the long tail effect. Do you have content that is more than a year old that still trends on your site? (Example: My Twitter Jail post consistently winds up in my annual top-10 pages. So when it pops up, I go ahead and open the page, check for any possible refreshing (updating content or links) I can add, and then I socialize it. This real-time awareness can give a good piece of content another round of exposure.
2. Are there more than one posts trending on your site? This might point to a good day in social media, but it could also show your "click something else" content is also performing well. Since adding three content highlights to my right navigation, I’ve seen each of the promoted posts coming up in overall performance. If a first-time visitor hits your site to read a post, do you give them enough hooks that they visit another page. (A visitor that only views one page and doesn’t click on anything else on your site, is called a bounce in Google Analytics.)
3. Is there any post that is moving up radically high, indicating some sort of viral event is taking place? When the Death of a Social Media Strategist post began trending, I could watch in real-time and try and amplify any viral traffic by re-socializing any influential traffic drivers.
What I look for in the real-time referrals:
1. Has any referer started driving high numbers? If so, can you go accelerate that trend? (Ways to amplify a positive referral: commenting on the page, thanking the author, or using your social channels to drive additional traffic to the referring post.)
2. Are there any new referrers that might indicate a new response or social mention of your content? Above we can see the Business Insider post that is still driving traffic to the Death of a Social Media Strategist post. And also a single link from Erikanapoletano.com, where I posted a comment on her post about plagiarism. (Yes, a well-placed, well-time comment can drive significant traffic.)
3. Which of your social networks are driving referrals? This is a great way to see if your LinkedIn Groups posts are working. Is all your tweeting about a specific post having any effect, or is it a dead day? Is some non-traditional referrers popping up in your stats? (Examples: Reddit, Instagram, or Pinterest)
Looking at your deep content (stroking and stoking the long tail of your content):
What I look for in the deep content:
1. Are there any posts that are showing up that you haven’t seen or refreshed for awhile? Should you refresh them and re-socialize?
2. How many pages are being "found" in search or some other referral? A piece of content that suddenly pokes its head back into the top 5 is easy to spot. But a post that shows 5 views in a given day, may also be a micro-trend that could be enhanced by re-socialization.
3. What older content might be ripe for a re-fresh or update?
Summary: Real-time analytics are the pulse of your living, breathing, website. If you spot a beneficial trend you can boost it. If you notice a life threatening miss you can resuscitate before brain damage occurs. And, while it’s easy to get caught in the buzzers and bells of watching your audience move around your site, the ACTIONABLE trends can be spotted and ACTIONABLED upon. (grin)
Best real-time measuring tools.
- Gaug.es (The paid service that can provide an overview of all of your web properties, and give diggable trending data as well.)
- Google Analytics (Yes it’s free, and it’s graphics are nice, but GA is often harder to use for trendspotting.)
- Chartbeat (A beautiful paid service that, like Gaug.es can be used to monitor multiple sites at once)
- Woopra (An open-source measurement tool, that is pretty to look at, but sometimes too dense to decipher.)
- Jetpack Stats (The WordPress specific stats package provides a good top 5 (posts, referrers) widget for your main WordPress admin page.)
- Wassup Stats (A WordPress plugin that gives who’s-on-my-site-and-what-are-they-doing-now analytics. I’ve recently disabled my Wassup stats due to update issues. The wassup widget, the coolest part of the program, didn’t seem to be working with newer versions of WordPress. I will try them again.)
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)
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