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Metrics, Metrics, Everywhere: Choosing the Right Ones for Your Website and Social Media


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Social media has connected millions of people in ways never before possible, disrupting the landscape and breathing new life into the old questions: "Why is this important and how do we know it's working?" Only now, the answers are more complex. Today's landscape is a splintered collection of new channels, sublimely named yet inscrutable metrics, and a dizzying array of tools both free and paid, offering a dizzying range of possibilities with which to answer the classic analytics question, "What do I measure?" and its first cousin, "What does that have to do with our program?" At this MCN 2013 workshop, the presenters worked with participants to refine and articulate this conversation through a series of examples, case studies, and recommendations. In addition to social media, a healthy dose of web analytics is included, with a particular focus on Google Analytics.

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Metrics, Metrics, Everywhere: Choosing the Right Ones for Your Website and Social Media

  1. 1. Metrics, Metrics, Everywhere! Choosing the Right Ones for Your Website and Social Media or "I Got 20 Retweets! Wait - Is That Good?" Brian Alpert Web Analytics and SEM Analyst Smithsonian Institution @balpert Elena Villaespesa Digital Analyst Tate @elenustika
  2. 2. 2 Outline • Intro to Web analytics • Segmentation • Social Disruption • Step-by-step process • Benchmarking social • Case Study I – Effie – Women’s History Month • Exercise • Selecting social media metrics • Avinash Kaushik / TrueSocial • Social media framework • SM @ SI – Tools & Survey highlights • What’s going on at Tate? • GA dashboards (examples) • Steps to create a GA dashboard • Social and your website – Dashboard-SMDG • Interpreting the dashboard - examples • Discussion – attendee dashboards • GA Social Reports • Case Study II – Erin/Muppets • Case Study III – Turner Prize • Case study IV – Weather forecast • GA Best Practices/ Tips and Tricks • Resources
  3. 3. 3 Search Engines SEO (keywords, Google rules) SEM (PPC campaigns) Optimization Referring sites Usual Unusual Trends / Insights Create relationships Direct / Other Email Banners Audience Visits Demographics Behaviour (time on site, new vs. returning, bounce rate, loyalty, recency,,) Technology (browser, mobile…) Segmentation Where are they coming from? Who they are? What are they visiting? Content Page views Top landing pages Key content areas Click path Internal search… Test, customise How are they converting/engaging? Conversion (shop, tickets, membership, donations…) Email subscription Comments Sharing content Downloads Registration Optimise processes (funnels, page optimisation) What can we do with Google Analytics?
  4. 4. 4 Research methods
  5. 5. 5 Segmentation – by demographics
  6. 6. Segmentation - By device: desktop, tablet, smartphone Pages/visit
  7. 7. UK visits by time of day
  8. 8. 8 Once upon a time…  We just had websites…  Website measurement tools were getting better and better…  Some of the best ones were even free!  We thought we had it all figured out…  And then one day… Source: Seattle Municipal Archives
  9. 9. 9 Social media disrupted everything  Today's landscape is a splintered collection of  New channels  Sublimely-named yet inscrutable metrics  A dizzying array of tools both free and paid  Breathing new life into old questions  "Why is this important?  “How do we know it’s working?“  "What do I measure?“  "What does that have to do with our program?“  BUT – the good news is… Source:
  10. 10. There is a systematic, step-by-step process  Articulate your program’s goals.  Decide strategies to achieve those goals.  Decide tactics to pursue the strategies.  Decide what and how to measure.  Benchmark to get a sense of what’s normal. 10 Source: Slide 26
  11. 11. 11 Articulating your goals is the hard part  Sometimes your institutional goals:  Aren’t precisely articulated.  Aren’t articulated at all (!)  Are too broad to meaningfully measure. “An institution for the increase and diffusion of knowledge." -- James Smithson Source: Smithsonian Institution Archives
  12. 12. 12 Your goal: storyteller  Use data to tell a story.  Management loves stories.  They turn “So what?” into something that makes sense:  What was happening.  What it meant.  What you did.  What’s happening now. Source:
  13. 13. Start by articulating specific goals  Not too many!  Express what your institution is trying to accomplish.  Distill high-level goals into more specific sub-goals:  “Increase influence” >> “Become the definitive source on Smithsonian history.”  This makes it easier to identify strategies and tactics.  Articulate goals & next steps on your own.  Work with management to redefine and finalize. 13 Reuters: Toru Hanai
  14. 14. 14 Determine strategies & tactics  Strategies – the plans you make to achieve the goals.  Employing social media is a strategy.  Tactics – the things you do to advance the strategy.  Producing a specific type of content is a tactic.  Individual channels (facebook, twitter) are tactics.  Per the example:  Goal: “Become the definitive source on Smithsonian history.”  Strategy: Increase engagement with history of the Smithsonian content.  Tactic: Make SI-history content more findable and measureable.
  15. 15. 15 Decide how to measure your tactics  Choose a few measurements.  Trend them over time.  Per the example:  Measure: segment history-specific content in GA  Directories (  Dedicated content (  Google Analytics custom variables.  Apply history-content engagement metrics  Visit frequency  Visit depth  Bounce rate for history pages
  16. 16. 16 What’s "normal," anyway?  You can’t set targets w/o benchmarks  You need at least six months of data.  Data fluctuates; is often seasonal.  Six months is just an opinion.  It also depends on how much traffic your site gets.  Peer data is valuable, but hard to come by.  Balance your targets with factors beyond your control:  Are the improvements you’re seeking known to be difficult to achieve?  What is the current status of your program (i.e., brand new, mature)?  How much resources will you have to devote to implementing tactics?
  17. 17. 17 "I Got 20 Retweets! Wait - Is That Good?"  Regular benchmarking is especially important if you use free tools.  Pull data regularly, or you may be out of luck.  Twitter and Flickr API’s limits 3rd party tools to 28 days of data.  Listen to Dana!  Twitter for Museums: Measuring, Analyzing, Reporting  Start with baseline data: Followers, Replies, RTs, Clickthroughs.  Identify 3-5 peer institutions.  Track at regular intervals.  Some tools can generate these reports automatically, but compiling/trending them is still up to you.
  18. 18. 18 Keep it simple!  Don’t do too much.  Once you’ve selected your strategies and tactics, minimize the number of measurements.  If they turn-out to be inconclusive, refine or change them!  It’s an ongoing process.
  19. 19. 19 Case study: Smithsonian Archives  Tweet your questions to Effie Kapsalis – @digitaleffie  Head of Smithsonian Archives (SIA) web and new media  SIA is a smaller Smithsonian unit with a big mission:  “The Archives’ mission is to document the goals and activities of the whole Smithsonian in its pursuit of increasing and diffusing knowledge, and exciting learning in everyone.”  “The Archives is also responsible for ensuring institutional accountability, and for enhancing access to the rich and diverse resources in its care.”
  20. 20. 20 Effie worked with Mgt. on Goals – Become the definitive source of Smithsonian history – Illuminate the Institution as a research and educational catalyst – Expand audience awareness of, use of, and access to SIA collections and resources – Increase understanding of the diversity and relevance of resources and collections 20
  21. 21. 21 They moved on to strategies and tactics 21 • Become the definitive source of Smithsonian history – Increase engagement with SI history content. • Make history content more measureable on new website. • Create content about the Smithsonian’s history that’s easily repurposed by other units. • Illuminate the Institution as a research and educational catalyst – Tell stories that highlight the Smithsonian’s role in education and research. • Expand audience awareness of, use of, and access to SIA collections and resources – Increase representation of SIA Collections & Resources on popular resource websites. • Make content more shareable and accessible • Wikipedian-in-Residence. • Flickr Commons Crowdsourcing. • History Pin. • Increase understanding of the diversity and relevance of resources and collections – Increase share and quality of conversation about SIA collections and resources.
  22. 22. 22 They chose measurements (a.k.a. KPI’s) 22 – Website engagement metrics for ‘history’ content • Visit frequency • Visit depth • Bounce rate – Visit frequency for blog – Number of Wikipedia pages with SIA references – Number of monthly favorites and comments on Flickr – Facebook Insights engagement metrics – Number of blog comments and shares
  23. 23. 23 “Definitive Source of SI History”  Strategy: increase engagement with SI history website content.  Tactic: make website history content more measureable.  Measurement: “High Visit Depth”  Percentage of HISTORY visits was 94% higher than ALL visits  1.21% average for ALL visits  2.35% average for HISTORY visits History-related visits All visits
  24. 24. 24 “Increase understanding of the diversity and relevance of resources and collections”  Strategy: Increase share and quality of conversation about SIA collections and resources.  Tactic: Woman’s History Month Social Media Campaign.  Facebook  Pinterest  Tumblr  Measurements  Visit Frequency for all visits vs. “WHM social” visits  SM referrals compared to previous year.  Facebook Insights engagement metrics.  Number of blog comments and shares. The “Women in Science” campaign ran daily for a month, now continues, weekly.
  25. 25. SIA Women’s History Month Campaign  Social media website visits are "streaky" – they reflect daily activity  WHM segment exhibited higher percentages of moderate (2-9) and high (10+) visit frequency  Peaks as much as 2-4X higher  Referral traffic from the targeted social media sites increased by 52% WHM ‘social’ visits All visits WHM ‘social’ visits All visits
  26. 26. 26 Exercise – 40 minutes  Split into four groups  Each group picks a site / project  Go through the steps, articulate pieces – 15 minutes  Discuss – 20 mins (5 mins each) Slide 10
  27. 27. 27 Social Media Metrics
  28. 28. 28 Selecting social media metrics  Available time and resources affect what metrics you choose.  Social Media metrics tend to fall into three categories:  “Quantity of Stuff” metrics  “Quantity-Plus” metrics  More advanced, trendable metrics
  29. 29. 29 “Quantity of Stuff” metrics  No actionable data  Scope and context  Growth / acquisition strategy  Number of Followers  FB  TW  Instagram  Pinterest  Number of ‘Likes’  FB Pages  FB Content  Instagram  Pinterest  FB post views Source:
  30. 30. 30 “Quantity-Plus” metrics  Still about quantity, but more meaningful  Show the type of content your audience responds to  Basic  Reach (FB)  Post-Clicks (FB)  Website visits referred by social properties  Better - “mini-conversions”  Retweets (TW)  Favorites (TW)  Comments (FB)  Shares (FB) Source:
  31. 31. A classic blog post…  Avinash Kaushik’s Best Social Media Metrics  Conversation Rate  # of Audience Comments (or Replies) Per Post  Amplification Rate  # of Retweets Per Tweet  # of Shares Per Post  # of “Share Clicks” Per Post (or Video)  Applause Rate  # of Favorite Clicks Per Post (TW)  # of Likes Per Post (FB)  # of #1s Per Post (Goog+)  # of +1s and Likes Per Post (or video) (Blog / YouTube)  Economic Value  For revenue-driven businesses  Sum of Short and Long Term Revenue and Cost Savings  Goal is to identify macro and micro conversions and then compute economic value.  A manual spreadsheet is available, here, or… Source: Occam's Razor “All data in aggregate is crap.”
  32. 32. 32 Trendable social metrics – YAY!  TrueSocialMetrics offers an automated solution.   Free / $30 per month / $100 per month / $350/month plans
  33. 33. 33 Conversation rate  # of Audience Comments (or Replies) Per Post “We can get a very good sense for who is following / friending / subscribing to us. We can measure if what we are saying connects to them.”
  34. 34. 34 Amplification rate  # of Retweets Per Tweet  # of Shares Per Post  # of Share Clicks Per Post (or Video) “Measure what types of content cause amplification – they allow your social contributions to spread to your 2nd, or even 3rd, level network.”
  35. 35. 35 Applause rate  # of Favorite Clicks Per Post  # of Likes Per Post  # of +1s Per Post  # of +1s and Likes Per Post (or video) “You get a much deeper understanding of what your audience likes.”
  36. 36. 36 Here is the bottom line!  On a campaign by campaign basis, you can use “quantity- plus” metrics to tell your story.  “Here was the goal. We did this. That happened. It was the best EVER!  But to improve your entire social media program, you need more refined, trendable metrics. Source: NY Daily News
  37. 37. 37 Social media framework
  38. 38. 38 Social media framework
  39. 39. 39 What’s going on at SI? Social media tools!  The free flow of unlimited federal money has allowed Smithsonian a full complement of the cream of the crop of the most expensive and powerful social media measurement tools.
  40. 40. 40 What’s going on at SI? Social media tools!  Ok, that was a joke. But we do have one paid tool.
  41. 41. 41 What’s going on at SI? Social media tools!  We also use the platform-provided tools:  Facebook Insights  Twitter Analytics  And the free versions of these popular tools:  Topsy  Simply Measured  TrueSocialMetrics  Tweetreach  Tweet Archivist  Statigram  Others…  Hand-built spreadsheets are still in use.
  42. 42. 42 What’s going on at SI? Survey highlights  Practitioners seem to be expressing the view that while free and platform-provided tools have improved, there is still a need for more power and sophistication.  That could be addressed by improvements in platform-provided tools, or social media budgets for more powerful commercial tools.
  43. 43. 43 What’s going on at SI? Survey highlights  The fact that 71% of respondents feel their organizational goals are sometimes reflected in their metrics is an improvement from a few years ago.  The notion that no one said always may be reflected in the next highlight…
  44. 44. 44 What’s going on at SI? Survey highlights  The same percentage (71%) are required to track the least-useful “quantity of stuff” metrics.  The next highlight also presents an interesting, (possibly) connected datapoint…
  45. 45. 45 What’s going on at SI? Survey highlights  78% of respondents have not, or weren’t sure, if they had used social media metrics to tell their story.  This demonstrates the enduring power of the need to track quantity, BUT…  The 21% who said “yes” also represent a positive shift forward.
  46. 46. 46 Your survey responses
  47. 47. 47 Your survey responses (cont’d)
  48. 48. 48 What’s going on at Tate? Jean Tinguely Débricollage
  49. 49. 49 Monthly dashboard
  50. 50. 50 Art & artists Tate PapersOnline shop Within the organization
  51. 51. 51 Google Analytics – Solutions gallery
  52. 52. 52 Google Analytics – Dashboards
  53. 53. 53 Google Analytics – Dashboards
  54. 54. 54 Digital Analytics group
  55. 55. 55 Integrating social into web measurement  Your website (and thus) GA are still critically important.  Use GA to understand your social media traffic  Advanced segment of social media referrals  ‘Social’ reports section  Google Analytics Custom Dashboard  Enables segmentation and trending.  Datapoints mostly relate to ‘engagement.’  Supermetrics Data Grabber  Flexible, Excel-based GA automation tool.  Enables you to see trends better than in the GA U-I.
  56. 56. 56 Supermetrics Data Grabber  Extracts data from the Google Analytics API.  Easy-to-use and customize.  Exceptional charting capabilities.  14 days free.  $348 per year.  Limited documentation and support.  Excel for Windows 2003/2007/2010/2011.  Excel 2011 for Mac (slow!)
  57. 57. 57 Supermetrics Custom Dashboard  Store in same folder with Supermetrics.xlsx  ‘Engagement’ oriented metrics  Visit Frequency  Visit Length  Visit Depth  New vs. Returning Visits  Bounce Rate  Conversion Rate  Search Engines  A foundation to make data actionable  “Key Trends and Insights”  “Impact on Site/Museum”  “Steps Being Taken” The easily updated, trended data is what makes the dashboard powerful.
  58. 58. Dashboard pages are designed: 1) To help orient you toward action 2) To communicate with management 58 Summary defines and puts the metric in context Chart shows segmented data tracked and trended over time. Suggestions for Possible Additional Segments. Red/Yellow/Green statusmarkershow s at-a-glance each metric’s status. ‘Action’ section answers the question “So what?” • Key Trends and Insights • Impact on Website / Unit • Steps Being Taken Profile data pulls automatically from GADG; shows metrics at-a-glance. GADG Instructions; show how to create the reports from scratch.
  59. 59. 59 Interpreting the Dashboard
  60. 60. All Visits data tells a nice story... 60 Minimal loyalty group (purple) downward trend indicates improving content engagement High loyalty group (blue) upward trend indicates same Impact of this Data on the Site or Program • This good-looking chart may indicate high content engagement and/or perceived value • This data may correlate to increasing conversion behaviors Acting on this Data • Identify moderate and high loyalty pages as a means of duplicating, or improving others • Examining conversion behaviors of these segments may yield add'l insights • Correlating high bounce rate pages to one-time visits may yield add'l insights • Test different content types in an attempt to move 'minimal' visitors into 'moderate' group Key Trends and Insights
  61. 61. 61 This Impact of this Data on the Site or Program • Organic search listings are driving poorly-targeted traffic • Will result in decreased organic search performance over time Acting on this Data • Refocus title tags, meta-description tags and page content for important pages • Perform link analysis to see where other SEO improvements can be made Minimal frequency group upward trend indicates organic listings are not appropriately targeted Moderate frequency group downward trend indicates same High frequency group trending slightly downward, in contrast to previous chart’s upward slope Key Trends and Insights …But applying segmentation tells a different story
  62. 62. 62 “Social Media Visits” advanced segment  Regular expression:|bitly||blogger|bloglines|blogspot|delicious|digg|facebook|feedburner|flickr|f oursquare||||hootsuite|instagram|linkedin|m.facebook. com|newsgator||pinterest|||reddit|stumbleupon||techn orati|tweetdeck|twitter|typepad|tumblr|wordpress|youtube The Regex can be edited to include smaller groups, or types of sites, i.e., facebook, twitter.
  63. 63. 63 Frequency of Visits – Social Media Visits Key Trends and Insights Segmented group trends are ‘streaky,’ indicating interest correlating to social media program activity. Moderate loyalty group trend is flat but in the same % range as other segments. High loyalty group share is much higher than either of the other segments analyzed, indicating strong relationship between OP content and this audience. Impact • Social media visitors visiting the site erratically over time could impede the project goals of fostering a desire to learn more, to continually share and to move visitors along a continuum of learning toward action. Recommended Steps • If social media/blog efforts are coming in spurts, consider ways to execute a more consistent schedule. •Engage qualitative effort to gauge possible U-I or search issues, and/or uncover other engagement- related characteristics.
  64. 64. 64 GA’s “Social” reports  Make data-driven decisions for social media programs:  Identify the value of traffic coming from social sites.  Measure how they lead to direct or “assisted” conversions.  Understand social activities happening on / off site.  Some of the reports require programming goals and assigning values  Understanding ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ involves tagging with the _trackSocial tag  Google’s ‘social analytics’ guide
  65. 65. 65 Social conversions  Requires programming Goals into GA  “Social performance at a glance and its impact on conversions.”  “Which goals are being impacted by social media.”
  66. 66. 66 “Network Referrals”  “Find out how visitors from different sources behave.”  This is similar to the custom advanced segment. Other reports: • “Trackbacks” (backlinks) • “Data Hub" (lacks facebook & twitter)
  67. 67. 67 Case Studies
  68. 68. 68 Case Study: Nat’l Museum of American History  On the anniversary of Jim Henson's 77th birthday, NMAH received more than 20 Henson puppets and props. Characters from The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, and Fraggle Rock were donated to Smithsonian.
  69. 69. 69 Case Study: Nat’l Museum of American History  Tweet your questions to NMAH’s Erin Blasco (@erinblasco)  Erin told a complete story based on a balanced mix of metrics, benchmarks, photos and anecdotes. Here’s Miss Piggy wearing the Hope Diamond. (Yes, that Hope Diamond!) Source: Smithsonian Magazine
  70. 70. 70 Case Study: Nat’l Museum of American History  Goals:  Spark excitement about the donation and Henson puppet history.  Include lesser-known objects such as the Fraggles (as well as the most popular objects i.e., Miss Piggy).  Inspire reflection on the importance of Henson puppets in American history and culture, on Henson’s birthday.  Clearly communicate that the puppets would not be on immediate display.  Hint that a future display would include puppetry collections.
  71. 71. 71 “Spark excitement about the whole donation”  Strategy  Focus first on the Fraggles  Tactic  Pre-launch – “tease” the donation  Posted two close-up images  Asked followers to guess which 1980’s pop culture objects these might be.  Measurements  Comments  Clicks The first clue: Fraggle hair Source: Facebook
  72. 72. 72 Adding to the story w/benchmarks & anecdotes  “The second clue received 797 clicks on Twitter alone, which is a huge number considering that our most popular tweets each month receive between 200-300 clicks.”  “Followers shared messages of excitement, congratulations, and spontaneously told us their memories”  "My son and I used to sing the song from time to time. What a hoot!" The second clue: Traveling Matt’s moustache! Source: Facebook
  73. 73. 73 “Inspire reflection on the importance of Henson’s puppets”  Strategy  Promote the complicated conservation process  Tactic  Behind the scenes blog post  Flickr photo set of conservation efforts  Measurements  Blog pageviews  Flickr photo-views
  74. 74. 74 More benchmarks and anecdotes  “The blog post was exceedingly popular, receiving 3,162 pageviews in the first 24 hours, a record breaking amount of traffic.”  “Many people responded that the blog post’s focus on conservation sparked their interest. One tweeted: “There are days when I really want to be a #conservator.”” “Almost finished with Grover.” Source: Flickr
  75. 75. 75 I know, right?
  76. 76. 76 Social media story: Turner Prize
  77. 77. 77 Social media story: Turner Prize And the winner is… Elizabeth Price
  78. 78. 78 Social media story: Turner Prize
  79. 79. 79 Social media story: #TateWeather
  80. 80. 80 Social media story: #TateWeather George Frederic Watts, Eveleen Tennant, later Mrs F.W.H. Myers
  81. 81. 81 Social media story: #TateWeather
  82. 82. GA Best Practices / Tips and Tricks 82
  83. 83. 83 Unfiltered backup profile  Create a profile that has no filtering of any kind  Leave this profile alone – it serves as a backup  Protection against unintended consequence  Possible names:  Website/view name (backup)  Website/view name (unfiltered data)
  84. 84. 84 Filter-out internal-traffic  If you want to exclude visitors surfing from within your network  Account >> Admin >> View (Profile) >> Filters >> +New Filter >> External Traffic Only
  85. 85. 85 Measure only traffic taking place on your site  Scraping and re-publishing website content is a common practice.  Those sites exist to serve Google Adsense ads and make money.  Unfortunately they also scrape your GA “UA” account number.  Their traffic goes into GA as your traffic!  Include all your domains,  Filter pattern:  |
  86. 86. 86 Use annotations  Super easy – a great way to know at-a-glance what happened on your site, launches, promos, etc.  You think you’re gonna remember – you’re not!
  87. 87. 87 Custom segment: social media visits  Regular expression:|bitly||blogger|bloglines|blogspot|delicious|digg|facebook|feedburner|flickr|f oursquare||||hootsuite|instagram|linkedin|m.facebook. com|newsgator||pinterest|||reddit|stumbleupon||techn orati|tweetdeck|twitter|typepad|tumblr|wordpress|youtube The regular expression (“regex”) can also be edited to include smaller groups, or types of social sites, i.e., facebook and twitter.
  88. 88. 88 Custom segment: engaged visits These visits:  Were deeper than three pages.  Were longer than three minutes.
  89. 89. 89 Custom segment: highly-engaged visits These visits:  Were deeper than four pages.  Were in frequency more than two times in the measured period.  Were longer than two minutes. These values can be tweaked for your site, of course! A nice blog post on this topic is here.
  90. 90. 90 Resources  Supermetrics Data Grabber   Automate Analytics Google Group   Avinash Kaushik’s “Occam’s Razor”   Lunametrics blog   Google Analytics Blog 
  91. 91. Thanks! 91