Give Your Social Networks The Spring Cleaning They So Desperately Need
Make Sure That Your Social Profiles Are Cleaned Up And Ready For The Coming Year
When my sister and I were growing up, as soon as the weather started to be consistently warm, we'd spend a weekend helping our mom with "Spring Cleaning." Now, in Ohio, that might mean April or it might mean June, depending on whether the appropriate sacrifices had been offered to the gods. Eventually, though, it would roll around.
We would clean the house from top to bottom. My sister was usually tasked with helping my mom go through each room and dust the blinds, wipe the baseboards, and other areas that aren't part of the normal weekly cleanings. Meanwhile, I'd be outside working on our porch.
And oh, what a porch it was. I'll remember that porch until the end of my days.
It was a good sized porch that wrapped around the back of our house. That, in itself, is certainly not unusual. But our porch had a regular shingled roof and solid walls with thick wood posts, painted on the outside and beautifully stained on the inside. It was lined with stones and millstones creating an impressive floor, and the windows were unique screens of tiny metal slots, each about the size and width of a quarter.
We had a full outdoor living room set of furniture out there, along with a porch swing, dartboard and other assorted chairs and tables strategically placed. It was the coolest place in town to throw a party or just hang out on a summer night listening to the ball game on the radio.
Before winter started, each year, we'd install some 4' x 6' wooden frames lined with plastic sheeting behind each screen to keep the wind and snow from coming into the porch, and put all of the cushions and decor into the basement. So my job consisted of:
- Taking down all of the plastic screens and storing them in the basement.
- Spraying down the entire porch from top to bottom to get rid of the cobwebs, dust and debris that accumulated over the previous 3 - 4 months.
- Bringing all of the cushions and decor up from the basement and finish prepping the porch for the months ahead.
It took a little time and effort to get it all done, but it was well worth it. We'd spend countless hours on that porch every summer and fall.
Along the same lines, periodically, it's a good idea to take stock of your social profiles and do a little Spring Cleaning of your own. Over time, your bio details will become outdated, privacy settings will have been changed without your consent, and your overall use and goals for a particular platform may have shifted.
Clean out the cobwebs.
This checklist will help you tick off every item in your 'social house' that needs to be put in order, including some fairly advanced analysis that I think you'll find fascinating.
"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." – William Morris
There are a number of reasons why we might want to unfollow someone on a social platform:
- They were followed automatically or somewhat blindly, without real interest in what they're talking about.
- They no longer use their account.
- They no longer talk about topics of interest to us.
Reasons 1 and 3 have the unfortunate result of cluttering up our news feeds with uninteresting posts.
For instance, when I first started using Google+, I was keen to gain a larger audience, so I made sure to circle the full 100 recommended users that Google+ offered and allowed each day. I ended up following thousands of people that I didn't know and, frankly, wasn't interested in what they were posting about.
It wasn't until I basically started over, unfollowed all of those accounts, and began to follow only really great, relevant people, that I got a ton of value out of the network.
You should do the same.
Some networks, like Twitter, have a variety of tools available such as Crowdfire which you can use to expedite the process. Facebook, on the other hand, will need to be a more manual review process. But it's well worth the investment in time.
Keep in mind that on Facebook and Google+, you can opt to change how much you see from an individual, in case you want to retain that connection. On Facebook you can unfollow them instead of unfriending them, and on Google+ you can put them in a circle for which you have turned off inclusion in your home stream.
On Twitter, alternatively, you can place individuals into one or more Lists that you set up according to your own needs. Do keep in mind though that public lists can be seen by your followers, and people you include are notified that you've added them.
When going through LinkedIn contacts, consider adding Tags. Tags, just like on blog posts or other entities, are simply words we choose to associate with one or more items, in this case, people. You might, for instance, tag some of your contacts as "influencers" so that you can provide specific information and updates to only those individuals.
On Pinterest, don't forget that you can pick and choose which boards you follow. You do not have to follow every board from an individual. So maybe you're interested in my Twitter and Facebook resources boards, but not my Travel board. You can unfollow me and only follow the individual boards that are helpful and interesting to you.
While Instagram offers no native sorting or listing or categorization capability, if that's of interest to you, you might want to check out Iconosquare. With an Iconosquare account, you can list accounts however you wish and see just the updates for specific lists. It's a great way to make sure you're seeing the posts you want to see.
(Don't forget that you can also control how you get notifications on each platform for specific people. This can further help prioritize what bubbles up on social media for you.)
"I was not merely cleaning an oven; I was improving the world." - Agnostic Zetetic
Review Platform Goals
Next, think about what your goals are for each social platform you're active on. For that matter, give some consideration to your social use overall. Are you making good use of your time on all of those networks? Or are you wasting time on one or two that could be better spent elsewhere?
Once you've committed to a set of networks, and considered how each fits into your overall marketing strategy, write that down. You should include goals, strategies and tactics for each platform.
Myself, for instance, I have goals for Facebook that are along the lines of, "foster personal relationships with peers and colleagues." I use that network to keep up with other professionals in my industry (marketing), but on a more personal basis (as do they). I'll share my latest articles and what I'm working on, but also quite a bit more about my personal life than on other networks like, say, LinkedIn.
As you're considering each network, so, too, should you consider your audience within the network. With Facebook and Google+, you have options on who you share individual posts with. There are also Groups and Communities to consider, shared Pinterest Boards, Tweet Chats and so on.
It's a good idea to put all of this into a working, living document that will help you and your business understand and execute an overall Content Marketing Strategy.
"When cleaning I do it the way people go to church—not so much to discover anything new, although I'm alert for new things, but mainly to reacquaint myself with the familiar. It's nice to go over familiar paths." - Robert M. Pirsig
Review Past Performance
For the networks which will continue to play a role in your business and professional dealings, take the time to review how each network, and your posts to that network, performed since your last review or audit.
Has your audience grown? Are they more engaged? Which were your most successful posts? Your worst? Why?
Ask these and other questions to help yourself get a sense for what does and does not resonate with your audience, and then build on that in the coming year.
Facebook offers Page Insights if you have a brand page. If you want to audit your personal profile, it's best to simply review that manually, noting which posts did well and which ones didn't, and why.
Twitter offers analytics for every account, as there's no difference between personal and professional. I also love that, within the analytics, you can scroll backwards through time and Twitter shows you your best tweet each month, among other data.
Similarly, LinkedIn only provides analytics for Company Pages.
One great option for reporting is AgoraPulse, which provides insightful and gorgeous reports for Facebook Pages, Twitter profiles and Instagram! And unlike many other reporting tools, AgoraPulse pulls in all available data from the network, including historical data, so it's not limited to the date you begin using the tool.
"If you don't smell good, then you don't look good." - Katy Elizabeth
Check Privacy Settings
While each network is different, it's still worth your while to review the privacy settings on each. They can change and expand and it's easy to miss announcements and notifications.
What you want to ensure is that, everywhere you have a presence, you're in control of what is and is not shared publicly, and that you understand those details.
Do you want your personal cell phone displayed? Your home address? All your pictures?
Since I've shifted my own blog and business over the years, I've gotten to a point where I simply cannot answer unscheduled, unsolicited phone calls. Whether it's a sales call or a reader with a question, I usually don't have the time at that particularly moment to stop and chat, so I have to let them go to voicemail. Since it's better to have emailed me from the start (and most will get a more detailed response in return that way), I've had to go through and remove public listings of my phone number over and over.
It's those kinds of changes that can easily slip past if we're not paying attention.
"I'm not going to vacuum until Sears makes one you can ride on." - Roseanne Barr
Next, once you've finished reviewing your privacy settings for a particular network, check the Bio or About section.
I've always recommended having a prewritten Bio, or versions of your Bio with different lengths, ready to go. This makes it so much easier to update your networks! Write that Bio once in a Google Doc or Evernote and then copy & paste it, or a version of it, into each network.
Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine and Blab limit you to very short, precise bios, while Facebook, Google+ and of course LinkedIn are far more extensive. Take advantage of the longer ones to add more depth and detail!
"My idea of superwoman is someone who scrubs her own floors." - Bette Midler
Update Profile Image
Next, update that old, dated profile image! As I've said before, your profile image is your brand image, so make it a good one!
Look, we're all getting older, it's nothing to be ashamed of. So don't keep using that pic from 1998 that doesn't even remotely resemble what you look today.
Instead, take the time to set up a really good, fun, photography session someplace interesting. While a professional photographer will help ensure you get a great photo, it's certainly easier these days to take great pictures with the devices we all carry around.
My image, for instance, was actually part of my wife and I's engagement photo session just a few years ago. We chose a number of downtown St. Louis locations, and in that image I'm standing next to my wife (who's been cropped out of course) in front of the Gateway Arch in Jefferson Park.
Every year around this time I give my professional headshot a good, hard look and try to consider objectively whether it's still an accurate depiction of me (it is!).
"I always clean before the cleaning lady comes. If not, when I come home, I can't find anything. Cleaning ladies are always hiding things you leave out." - Celia Cruz
Update Cover Photo
Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube all support "cover photos" - large graphics that span the top of our personal profiles (or business profiles).
If you haven't yet uploaded something unique and branded for you, now's the time. And if you have, perhaps now's the time for something fresh and different!
You'll find all of the social media cover photo specifications and dimensions here, as well as more detailed instruction on how to create a cover photo for LinkedIn, which is remarkably challenging. And for all, you can create some really excellent graphics using Canva.
"I enjoy the cleaning up—something about the getting of things in order for winter—making the garden secure—a battening down of hatches perhaps... It just feels right." - David Hobson
Review Evergreen Content
Now, for the tricky part... let's look at some of those evergreen articles we've been sharing in our social queues. I use tools like Buffer and SocialOomph to keep those articles rotating, and am currently experimenting with AgoraPulse and Post Planner... but is anyone really interested?
The best, yet probably the most painful method, is to use Google Analytics. Log into your account and go to Behavior -> Site Content -> All Pages.
This is a report you should be intimately familiar with, since it details what content people are going to within your site, and important aspects like how long they're staying, whether they bounced out, and if that session contributed to completion of goals or sales.
First, click on PageViews so that you reverse the sort to show you the least popular of your content.
Next, you will likely want to use the Advanced Filter to only show you specific kinds of content and traffic volumes. Click on Edit next to the filter field to reveal available operators.
Here, you have a variety of options. The two most likely are to include some text to filter page URLs, and to filter out PageViews that are above a certain level.
- Page - If your posts include a "slug" - a piece of text in the URL that's always there - like /blog/ you can type that in and Google Analytics will only show results that have that text in the URL. Like this:
Make sure to keep the selector as "Include", the type as "Page", and the operator as "Containing" for your text.
- PageViews - Click on Add Dimension or Metric then select Site Usage and then PageViews. Change the operator to be "Less Than" and enter whatever value you wish. (I happened to choose 100, but you can put on whatever value makes sense for you and your content.)
Click on Apply and your result set will be filtered to only show your blog content that's gotten less than 100 page views.
Note that you can also play with the date rage at this point. You might choose to go back to when you first started publishing content, or only the past month or year.
Now that you have the results you're looking for, start reviewing the posts. Any surprises?
When I first did this, I found several articles that I had always felt were strong posts, yet clearly weren't pulling their weight in terms of traffic. How To Create A Branded Shortlink, for example, had gotten decent social signals and feedback, yet failed to crack 100 visits after more than a year.
This is the potentially painful part that I mentioned before. But don't feel too bad. We all have articles that we've spent time polishing only to find that there's little interest in the topic. But it's not always that cut-and-dried. Consider:
- Was your Title compelling enough? Could you try improving the Title and resharing the article as a test?
- Was there sufficient information within the article itself? If, looking back, it seems rather light in some areas to you, consider revising or adding to it. You might even consider an entirely new article that goes deeper into the topic, unless...
- Is there sufficient interest in the topic otherwise? If you do a search on Google Trends (https://www.google.com/trends/) does the graph indicate consistent or growing interest? If not, it's time to move on from this topic.
If you decide to make adjustments to an article, or maybe if you simply didn't do that much promotion in the first place, then it's time to run through the entire Blog Promotion Checklist to make sure that you've gotten maximum reach for the post.
For those articles that aren't going to make the cut - the ones that aren't worth investing more time in, you have some decisions to make.
Certainly, stop sharing them to social channels. If you're still tweeting out an article that no one cares about, you're just diluting your tweets and paying a disservice to your audience. That was the primary purpose of my own trip down this path; making sure that I removed any bad articles from my SocialOomph queues.
Note, though, that it's possible an article that does very well on social media, but doesn't drive traffic, may still be a valued post for the engagement alone. Consider running that post URL through BuzzSumo to see what the social numbers really are, and then decide whether to keep it.
The next question is whether you should even keep the article published at all. If it's not getting any traffic, then it's likely not contributing any SEO value at all to your site. Take a look at each post and consider whether the content of the article is truly a strong contributor to your site's overall focus, or if perhaps it was something odd you decided to write about. You might as well unpublish those posts.
If you're concerned about SEO and user experience, you can certainly set up a URL Alias within your CMS so that visitors to the old URL are redirected to your home page, another article, or a particular page. But if it's the kind of article that's gotten 15 visits in 3 years, I wouldn't bother.
Ultimately, this kind of trimming, both from your social shares and from your archive entirely, will ensure that every piece of content you share and that your audience is exposed to is your best, most applicable piece.
"I am never five minutes into stripping the clutter from my life before I start running into the clutter that is my life." - Robert Brault
And with that, you've now gone through every nook and cranny of your social networks. They're cleaned up and shining, ready to face the rest of the year. Great work!
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By Mike Allton, Content Marketing Practitioner
Mike is a Content Marketing Practitioner - a title he invented to represent his holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blogging, social media, email marketing and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales. He is an award-winning Blogger, Speaker, and Author at The Social Media Hat, and Brand Evangelist at Agorapulse (formerly CMO at SiteSell).
As Brand Evangelist, Mike works directly with other social media educators, influencers, agencies and brands to explore and develop profitable relationships with Agorapulse.Follow @Mike_Allton