Day 18: Track your scholarly social media and website impact

Throughout this Impact Challenge, we’ve explored many ways for you to get your work to other researchers, the public, and other audiences via the Internet.

To close out the Challenge, we’ll share techniques for measuring the success of your ongoing efforts, starting with basic social media and website analytics.

Social media and website analytics like those provided by Twitter, Hootsuite, Buffer and Google Analytics can tell you a lot about who’s following your work, the potential exposure your work has received, and some limited bits about the diverse uses of your work, beyond simple page views and download counts.

Let’s dig into some easy ways to explore the metrics behind your website and social media accounts.

Twitter Analytics

Twitter’s Analytics feature can tell you not only how many followers you have, but also their demographics and how others are using your tweets. Are your tweets being retweeted or favorited very often? If so, what are the characteristics of those tweets with high engagement rates?

The wealth of data that Twitter provides can help you learn more about the audiences you’re having an impact with (Is your work resonating in the countries whose populations you’re studying? What subjects do your followers care most about? And so on). Here’s how to get started with Twitter Analytics:

  • Login to Twitter
  • Click on your picture in the upper right-hand corner and then select “Analytics” from the drop-down menu

You’ll see four tabs and a drop-down menu across the top:

  • Home: gives you a 28 day summary and highlights of your top tweets by month
  • Tweets: includes the exposure your tweets has received, the general rates that others have engaged with your tweets, and allows you to explore the activity that individual tweets have received.
  • Audiences: breaks down the demographics of your followers, showing a growth chart
  • Events: summary of large media events on Twitter, such as the Sydney Festival.
  • Twitter Cards: found under the drop-down “More” menu, this most useful for advanced academic users who want to promote blog content and rich media. We won’t talk much about Twitter Cards in this chapter; check out this guide for more information.

Let’s dig into the Tweets and Audiences pages.

Tweets

The first thing you’ll see on this page is a bar chart of the number of Twitter impressions your tweets have received over the past 28 days. Twitter impressions are the number of times your tweets have appeared in someone else’s timeline. You can think about this metric as being akin to the circulation statistics of a journal you’re published in – it’s not the same as readership, but it gives a sense of your overall exposure.

TwitterImpressions

You’ll also see summaries of your average Engagements on the right-hand side of the screen. How often have others clicked on your links, retweeted and favorited your tweets, and replied to you over the past 28 days? And how many of each of these actions have you received per day, on average?

In the middle of the screen, you’ll see a list of your tweets in reverse chronological order, along with their individual number of impressions, engagements, and engagement rate.

You can click on “View Tweet activity” for any individual tweet to get a drill down view of the metrics.

Consider doing an informal analysis of your most popular tweets on a monthly basis. It’ll allow you to see what types of tweets are the most popular with your followers, and you can use that insight to share future links in a similar way.

An easy way to do this informal analysis is to export your Tweet Activity data as a CSV file. Open it up in Excel and use the Sort function to see which of your tweets have the most impressions, retweets, and other types of engagement. You can do this by clicking on “Export data” in the top right-hand corner of your Tweet Activity page.

Beyond Tweet Activity, knowing about your followers is a great way to learn the demographics of your audience and what unexpected demographics you’re reaching via Twitter.

Audiences

Much of your Audiences page is self-explanatory: How many followers do you have overall, and when did you experience a spike in follower growth? What are your followers most interested in? Where are they located? Who else do they follow? And what’s their gender?

TwitterAudience

You can compare information about your follower rate to information on your Tweet Activity page to see if any particular tweets or mentions can account for a dip or rise in follower growth.

And demographic information can be useful in other ways. For example, if you’re studying drug use among teens in northern Europe, one way to prove that you’re successful at reaching out to that group would be to dig into your Audience data and see where your followers live; who else they’re following and their interests could give you insight into their age and other demographic information.

Hootsuite & Buffer

If you took advantage of setting up social media automation during Day 10, you may already be familiar with Hootsuite and Buffer. Both have analytics tools you can use to gain insights on all your connected social media. Hootsuite has some basic free tools and more powerful tools you can use if you pay for an upgraded account. From the information I have gleaned from the web, Buffer used to have free tools but now you have to pay to use any social analytics. You can find out more about Buffer’s paid analytics here. Below is an overview of some of the free features Hootsuite offer.

Hootsuite

HootsuiteAnalyticsIf you are a Hootsuite user, go to your account and click on the bar graph symbol on the left-hand side of your page.

From here you will be able to choose from overviews of your various social media accounts, or a summary of clicks on web links you have shared. The “Ow.ly Click Summary” will give you the most insight from a free Hootsuite account.

It provides information on which links received the most clicks, the social media profile where your followers click on the most links, which countries they are from, and the dates that were most popular. All information you can mine to improve engagement with your links!

HootsuiteOwlySummary

You can find out more about Hootsuite’s paid analytics products here.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a powerful platform that can tell you a lot about the traffic that your website or blog have received.

A selection of web staff at the University have access to Google Analytics for the UON website, after the completion of this 20 Day Challenge, we will provide you with Google Analytics reports on your UON researcher profile.

If you have a website or blog, it is easy to set-up and gain valuable insights. To get started, you need to sign up for a free Google Analytics account, then insert a small file onto your website that helps track your website’s traffic: how many people are visiting your site, where are they coming from, how long are they staying, what’s the most popular content on your website, and so on.

Hooking Google Analytics up is very easy if you’re running a WordPress blog: here’s a tutorial on how to do it in under 60 seconds.

Google Analytics provides a number of out-of-the-box reports that can be useful for learning about your site’s visitors and the content that’s most popular, including:

  • Audience overview report provides an at-a-glance overview of all the key visitor metrics for your site.
  • Acquisition overview report provides an at-a-glance overview of visitor-source metrics for your site.
  • Behavior overview report provides an at-a-glance overview of the key page view metrics for your site.

Let’s take a closer look at each report.

Audience Overview Report

How many visitors have you received, and where do they hail from? Do visitors from certain countries stay longer on your website? How about visitors who are using a mobile browser versus a desktop browser? Knowing more about our visitors’ demographics can tell us how good of a job we’re doing at engaging certain communities, and also clues like “Are visitors to my website who are using mobile browsers leaving because they’re having a hard time reading on their mobile phones?”

AudienceOverviewReport

Acquisition Overview Report

Are more people searching for your site than they are being referred to your site from Twitter and Facebook? What social networks are sending the most traffic your way? Digging into this report, as well as drill-down views beneath the “Acquisition” section of the left-hand toolbar, can give you insight into how you might better promote your website or blog using social media.

AcquistionOverviewReport

Behavior Overview Report

What are the most popular pages on your website or blog? Above, is a screenshot of traffic over a month. We see on the bottom right the most popular pages, as well as a summary of traffic just below the overall traffic chart. This can not only tell you the content on your website or blog that’s most eligible for re-sharing on social media as “evergreen content,” but also can tell you whether blog posts aimed at engaging the public are working.

BehaviourOverviewReport

For a comprehensive list of Google Analytics resources, check out KissMetrics’ link roundup.

What these platforms can’t tell you

None of these platforms expose much of the underlying, qualitative data like, “In what context was I ‘mentioned’ on Twitter?” or “What did all those Facebook comments actually say?”

So, be sure to use the data you’re gathering carefully!

Homework

Explore your Twitter Analytics data and if you have a Hootsuite account explore the analytics reports available. If you have a website or blog, try Google Analytics. After a few weeks’ worth of metrics have accumulated, dig into the data with these questions in mind:

  • Have there been spikes in engagement or traffic after I shared certain types of content?
  • What do these services tell me about the demographics of my readers, visitors, and followers?
  • How do those demographics differ from what I expected? How are they similar?
  • How might I use the data these sites provide to document my engagement efforts for professional purposes?

Tomorrow, we’ll dig into a key way to make your academic work trackable across the Web: minting permanent identifiers.

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