How Can You Improve Your Business In 2015?
I have to admit, 2014 was a great year for The Social Media Hat. We launched the new site on January 1st and proceeded to publish 102 (and still counting) articles and blog posts. And, with a little over a week remaining, nearly 300,000 readers stopped by to learn something new.
I am humbled and extremely appreciative of my readers and clients. Thank you!
But, like most of us, there are still areas I can improve. Things I can do better. As well as things I would like to do differently. I am taking a lot of time this and next week to think about what I liked and didn't like about 2014, and how I would like 2015 to be different.
There are four key areas I want to review.
01. My Content
To have published over 100 articles is great, but it's also very likely that not every single article was completely aligned with my audience and business goals. I will review the individual performance metrics for each post and determine which ones really resonated, and which ones fell flat. This will help me to be a better writer in the coming year!
I will be looking at:
A. View Count
B. Social Signals
C. Time / Date Published
E. Category / Topic
A simple spreadsheet will show me not just the most popular articles, but the most engaging topics as well. And while I don't expect to find a "best time to publish" it's always possible to find some surprising data.
02. My Audience
Now that I know which articles are really resonating with my audience, it's time to take a closer look at who that audience is. What if I'm not reaching the audience that I want for my business? Of course, if you haven't defined that, then now's the time to think about who you're trying to reach. For myself and my business, I have a mixed target audience. I am trying to help small business owners and Do-It-Yourselfers who will be interested in the solutions I offer in specific articles, and who might share those posts with others once they get the answers they're looking for. I am trying to build rapport with my peers and colleagues in the social media and marketing industry. And I am trying to make a solid impression on those businesses who are interested in getting more help with their projects and online presence (more on that in a moment).
From a demographic perspective, pull up Google Analytics, change the date range to include all of 2014, and then click on Audience in the data selector area to the left.
Note: If you have not enabled Display Advertiser Features within your Google Analytics property settings, you will not be able to view demographic data like Interests. Click on Admin, then Property Settings for this web property, and then click on the toggle for Enable Display Advertiser Features.
Depending on how targeted your audience goals are, you may be able to check against Google Analytics. If, for instance, you're a local business, you're going to want to make sure that majority of your traffic is from your geographic region. If you're servicing Toronto, Canada and yet most of your traffic is from Europe, that's a problem.
For The Social Media Hat, while most of our traffic was from the U.S., we still got a good amount of traffic from United Kingdom, Canada, India and Australia, along with nearly every other country throughout the world. Since I offer consulting to businesses anywhere in the world, that's not a problem for me at all.
One area that is a problem for me is the fact that over 20% of my site's traffic is from mobile. That's a problem because my site is not mobile optimized. Those visitors aren't getting the best possible experience, and Google may not be serving the number of mobile visitors that I deserve because of that fact. Add that to my To Do list for 2015.
03. My Platform
If you haven't yet read Michael Hyatt's seminal work, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, add that to your reading list right now. I have completed adopted his philosophy that all of your online profiles and properties are all part of your platform on which you're afforded the opportunity to communicate with and influence others.
It starts with your website as the hub, so that's where I will begin my own evaluation. How's my site's performance? Does it still look professional and excellently reflect my business and message? Is it ranking as well as it should for my targeted keyword phrases?
This is an area that I'm particularly good at. I can run deep reports and analysis of my website, determining keyword strength, SEO issues to resolve, and other factors that need to be addressed. This is referred to as an SEO Audit, and it's a service I offer my business clients - and it's on sale through the holidays. If you're not sure whether or not your website is performing as well as it should, you may want to take advantage of my Baseline Analysis.
Beyond your website is your social media profiles and other online profiles. Most businesses should have, at a minimum, a Twitter account, a Facebook Page, a Google+ Page and a LinkedIn Company Page.
- Is the business name and imagery correct and updated on all properties?
- Is the business profile (About) updated and thorough?
- Does the profile correctly cross-link and promote the website and other key social profiles?
- Does the timeline of recent posts demonstrate a message that's consistent with the business goals?
And so on.
What you say on your social media profiles and through your posts is all part of your overall Message. Hyatt's analogy of a platform is a good one, and stems from the political usage of the phrase. When candidates run for office, they have a platform which represents their stance on the issues they think voters are interested in. Expert political campaigns will define those positions, define the talking points that need to be communicated, and bring that together with whatever speaking events and opportunities that that candidate will be able to take advantage of into a Message Calendar. The campaign can then look at any particular day and know that the topic of the day is Foreign Policy, for instance, and there'll be two speeches and two fundraising events during which that will be the focus.
But to go back even further, to truly understand the derivation of the term platform, we have to recall political campaigns before the Internet, before TV and radio, heck... even before planes, trains and automobiles... back to the 1800's and some of this country's first political campaigns. Candidates would travel using horse and carriage, and would create a makeshift stage at whatever town they were passing through. This started the term platform, which evolved from the stage on which they stood, to the issues and positions on which they stood.
Image credit: www.ssa.gov
Your message, and the means by which you communicate it, is your platform. make sure that it is aligned with your business goals, and review it regularly, since your business goals will likely continue to evolve and change!
04. My Business Goals
So of course the final question is, what are your business goals? Have they changed since the last time you considered the question?
These goals might be site oriented - more visitors, more leads, and so on. Or they might be socially oriented - more engagement, more activity, and so on.
I tend to focus on creating goals that are little more vague: write better, help more people, create more interesting and diverse content... and these goals get analytical support from the actual measurable achievements like more traffic, more social signals, etc.
And of course, these goals support the bottom line goals of the business with regard to clients and business.
As a corollary, I will also spend time evaluating the various services and tools that I have been using, both free and paid, to determine where there may be overlap and potential savings in time and resources.
For instance, I am currently using a combination of Hootsuite, Buffer and SocialOomph to maintain and monitor my social media activity. While Hootsuite will continue to be invaluable due to its incredible monitoring and reporting capability, there may be sufficient overlap between Buffer and SocialOomph that I might be able to eliminate one tool and see a savings on both time and money. We'll see what my analysis reveals.
If you're paying for Hootsuite but aren't sure that you're getting the value out of it that you should, one place to start might be The Unofficial Book On Hootsuite: The #1 Tool for Social Media Management. This book offers you a complete guide to every aspect of the Hootsuite tool, including deep dives into setting up reports, custom URLs, and more. And it, too, is on sale through the holiday season: just $2.99! Get your copy from Amazon here, and note that while it is a Kindle eBook, you can download the free Kindle app for iOS or Android so you don't have to use a Kindle device specifically.
So that's what I will be working on as we bring a close to 2014. How about you? Whether you had a good year or not, I'd love to hear about it in the comments below. And as I mentioned above, if you'd like a hand reviewing your website, my Baseline Analysis is 33% off through the holidays, so be sure to take advantage of that. And the Baseline Analysis also includes a look at all of your social profiles, a keyword analysis, and a one-hour consultation to review everything. Schedule yours today!
By Mike Allton, Content Marketing Practitioner
Mike is a Content Marketing Practitioner, Blogger and Author in St. Louis, and the Chief Marketing Officer at SiteSell. He has been working with websites and the Internet since the early '90's, and is active on all of the major social networks. Mike teaches a holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blog content, social media and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales.
Mike is the author of, "The Unofficial Book On HootSuite: The #1 Tool for Social Media Management", "The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect LinkedIn Profile.", and "Blog Promotionology, The Art & Science of Blog Promotion."