Let’s think about Grassroots Metrics

People do go on about web metrics. Possibly they are ignoring ‘grassroots’ metrics.

It is vital to keep track of, and effectively analyse, the metrics on your website. It helps you identify whether you’re hitting the mark, and not generating question marks (ahem), as it were.

But if you use social networks – in particular, Twitter – as part of your marketing and publicity mix, are you focusing too much on your Google Analytics, and not enough on your grassroots metrics?

The thing that sparked this line of thinking is that in the past few weeks I’ve had quite a few people ask me what’s happened to Metal as Fuck. Many of them are former (or current) contributors, wondering about management and the magazine’s direction. But now I am also getting these queries from readers and fans. Specifically:

AV and username blotted out for privacy reasons

On querying what this dude meant specifically – as in, whether he meant content, or postings or whatever – I got this response:

AV and username blotted out for privacy reasons
AV and username blotted out for privacy reasons

Even though this user hasn’t been frequenting Twitter lately, any response like this ought to ring alarm bells. My response was, “if they stopped retweeting it, that tells a huge story!”. And this user’s response to that was:

AV and username blotted out for privacy reasons
AV and username blotted out for privacy reasons

Degrees in marketing aren’t necessary to get it right

Even kids on social networks know when something is on the downward run. You don’t need a degree in marketing, or long experience in working as a publicist on social networks. All you need is exposure to them and an understanding of how their cultures work.

When things disappear on Twitter, people actively wonder where they went. Especially if they were formally very active.

What the above sequence tells me is two things:

  1. Either the magazine is not hitting its niche any more (that is, the one that got it running and popular), or
  2. Its audience (as a result of its content) has changed, or is changing.

Get on top of your grassroots metrics

Of course, if you don’t hear about movements in your audience’s behaviours, you can do nothing about them. This is where keeping an eye on your traffic sources is essential.

Continually engaging – thoroughly engaging through conversation, not just throwing links at – your audience is more likely to bring your grassroots metrics to your attention. If your audience (client base/readership/niche) feels it can talk to you, it is more likely to give you a heads-up about what is hitting them right and what is not.

But on Twitter it’s even easier than this. Just watch your account, and keep note of how many RTs (retweets) you get. This will give you a strong idea of what’s going on.

No RTs = no interest. And if your interest drops, then you have a big problem.

You don’t want to disappear from the social networks’ notice. If you do, then your traffic is going to drop; you can’t rely on SEO and Google rankings alone. And nor can you rely on a Facebook page, the impact of which can’t be effectively measured.

So how’s your social networking health?

Is your content retweeted, reposted, shared, among your readers? Do you know? Do you care?

If you answer ‘not sure’, ‘don’t know’, or ‘no’ to any of the questions above, then quite probably you have issues. Go and examine your metrics on your Google Analytics account, and go and scrutinise your interactions on social networks. If you have access to other figures, find out what is being shared.

And look at your ‘Mentions’ in your Twitter account. Getting any mentions? No? Then there is a good chance that what you think is hitting the mark, isn’t.

It’s not a fable that people in this day and age vote with their feet. It doesn’t take much for you to disappear or fall down the rankings. Keeping note of your grassroots metrics, and continually massaging them, will go a long way to preventing your site’s decline.


4 thoughts on “Let’s think about Grassroots Metrics

  1. Pingback: Iain (@Dizzydalek)
  2. Excellent points. At the SEO company I work for we put a LOT of value into social media and how to get people to engage, if people are engaging, retweeting, liking your content whatever it is you’re doing something right!

    1. Cheers! Yes, in my experience it’s less about the product and far more about the interaction. People want experiences, not things. If you can encourage that, then you’re on the right track. 🙂

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