How to Improve Your Marketing Metrics Week Over Week

weekly calendarBuffer runs seven days at a time. Many of our improvements, metrics, experiments, and tasks fit into one-week slices, which helps us to move quickly on new ideas and to revisit our results right away. Instead of it being early April around here, it’s just Week 14.

This weekly perspective has some big advantages across all our departments, including marketing. Reviewing and improving our marketing metrics week over week, for the blog and our social media accounts, lets us quickly experiment, test, and analyze where to best invest our time and effort.

I’d love to share some of our favorite ways to view metrics week over week, as well as some ideas on how to improve key stats and keep things on pace for monthly goals and benchmarks.

(As far as monthly goals go, we have those, too. You can read our latest monthly reports at our Open blog.)

Weekly reports, right in your email

The weekly emphasis on analytics is made much easier when these reports come hand-delivered to your inbox every seven days. Thankfully, many services now send weekly digests of your activity and performance, often with a comparison to performance form the week before.

Here are a few of our favorites. (We’re a little biased with the first!)

Social media overview—Buffer’s weekly digest email

Every Monday, Buffer sends out an email digest, covering your best content from the week before as well as key data on all your connected accounts with week-over-week comparisons. (Buffer user? See yours here.)
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The Key Ingredient of Buffer’s Most Shared Content, According to Research

pandaWe analyzed over 10 million posts sent via Buffer, looking for a common theme among the most shared content. Our findings surprised us as much as they might surprise you. The clear winner: pandas.

Panda content—photos, GIFs, and stories—made up nearly 18 percent of the top 500 posts sent through Buffer. These posts received an average of three times more clicks and 10 times more retweets than content without pandas, and the gap between panda content and the next-highest viral ingredient, monkeys wearing people clothes, was substantial. Pandas won, hands down.

  • Pandas – 18 percent of the top 500 posts
  • Monkeys wearing people clothes – 3 percent
  • Cats – 2.5 percent
  • Corgis – 2 percent
  • Honey Boo Boo – 1 percent

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How I Cut My Writing Time From 2 Days to 4 Hours

writingAs I was brainstorming ideas for my last post on the Buffer blog, I started reflecting on what I’ve personally learned during my time at Buffer.

My writing process is considerably different today than it was when I joined Buffer nine months ago, so hopefully you can find some nuggets in the mistakes I’ve made and the lessons I’ve learned that might help you as well.

Slow beginnings

When I first joined Buffer, Leo had been running the Buffer blog pretty much on his own: he wrote or sourced the content, published it and promoted it all. Leo and I approached blogging from almost exact opposite ends of the spectrum; Leo is great at getting something up quickly and tweaking it to fit, whereas I was prone to spend a long time on my “first draft,” which was more like a fourth draft by the time I eventually sent it over for Leo to look at. Continue reading…

The Ideal Length of Everything Online, Backed by Research

ruler and threadEvery so often when I’m tweeting or emailing, I’ll think: Should I really be writing so much?

I tend to get carried away. And for the times that I do, it sure would be nice to know if all this extra typing is hurting or helping my cause. I want to stand out on social media, but I want to do it in the right way.

Curious, I dug around and found some answers for the ideal lengths of tweets and titles and everything in between. Many of these could have been answered with “it depends,” but where’s the fun in that? Solid research exists to show the value of writing, tweeting, and posting at certain lengths. We can learn a lot from scientific social media guidelines like these. Here’s the best of what I found.

The ideal length of a tweet is 100 characters

Whom should you trust when it comes to advice on the ideal length of a tweet? How about Twitter itself?
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Marketing Personas: The Complete Beginner’s Guide

bucketsI am writing this post to Dan, Mary, Steven, and Rachel—one of whom is likely you.

You see, Dan, Mary, Steven, and Rachel are personas, created with a combination of raw data and educated guesses, representing slices of this blog’s readership. Dan could be you, and Mary could be your coworker. What these sketches provide is a touchstone for creating content: When I can put a name and a background to the people reading what I write, I can hopefully meet their needs even better.

The same holds for marketing and sales. Building personas for your core audience can help improve the way you solve problems for your customers. The process of creating personas is well worth the time. Here is a blueprint and beginner’s guide to getting started.

The basic marketing persona template

I love this description of a marketing persona from the team at Krux:

With personas, businesses can be more strategic in catering to each audience, internalize the customer that they are trying to attract, and relate to them as human beings.

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The Social Media Automation Strategy Every Marketer Needs

ConversationWhen I was in elementary school, my wardrobe was fully automated. I had a certain pair of sweatpants for Mondays, jeans for Tuesdays, Zubaz for Wednesdays, and so on. It was quite the system for a fourth-grader!

Automation has been a big part of my life ever since. I love to find helpful ways to work smarter—anything to shave an extra few minutes off my day. Automation, when done right, scratches this itch perfectly.

The same holds for automation of one’s social media marketing. There are huge efficiencies to unlock here, but at the same time, there remains one big question: “How do you automate your social media presence and stay in the conversation with your audience?”

Curious for myself, I researched and delved into this question of automation and came up with some intriguing answers. Based on that, here’s a strategy to achieve social media automation done right—both efficient and engaged. Continue reading…

The 15-Minute Social Media Audit Everyone Can Do

ChecklistThe word “audit” deserves more love than it gets.

When I hear the word, my mind goes straight to tax season and the manila envelope crammed with receipts and forms that I keep stashed away in the closet. Audits seem to equal anxiety, which is too bad – because not all audits are created equal. A tune-up at the garage is essentially an audit for your car, a check-up at the doctor is an audit of your health. You can learn a lot from regular reviews like these. 

The same holds true for an audit of your social media marketing. You can learn a lot from an examination of how you manage (or don’t manage) your online brand. If it helps to think of a social media audit as something else—a marketing mastermind, maybe?—then so be it. Don’t let the word “audit” get in the way of checking in regularly with your social profiles. It’s easier and more helpful than you think.

Social media audits matter for everyone

Maintaining a social media presence can be a full-time job, which makes it kind of difficult if your full-time job requires your time and attention be spent elsewhere. Social media profiles can fall into disrepair quickly when left alone. An audit can help get things back on track.

On the flip side, there are those of you who actively maintain social media profiles and take great pain to keep everything updated and cohesive. Audits are helpful in these instances, too. They can serve as much-needed opportunities for reflection and growth.
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How We Research: A Look Inside the Buffer Blog Process

research-microscope

I often get asked about my research process for the Buffer blog. For my science and life hacking posts in particular, I rely heavily on scientific research to back up my points, so there’s a lot of research to be done.

Unfortunately there’s no secret sauce or magic bullet when it comes to this process. It’s mostly just a matter of time and practice. I do have a few tips to share about where and how I find the sources for my research, though, so hopefully you’ll find these useful.

Finding the research you need

The first thing I do when I start a research-heavy post is start digging into the topic to learn everything I can. Here are a few ways I find studies and research papers for my posts.
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7 Essential LinkedIn Marketing Stats: When to Post, What to Post and How to Improve

Coffee shopA quick glance at a chart of the Internet’s fastest-growing social networks reveals what you likely already knew (Instagram is growing like mad) and what might be a surprise: LinkedIn is the third-fastest-growing social network.

We at the Buffer blog can vouch for LinkedIn’s growth as our blog has experienced a swell in LinkedIn referral traffic over the past year, up 4,000 percent from last year at this time. Part of that has to do with our emphasis on updates and sharing at LinkedIn, another part has to do with the popularity of LinkedIn contributing a larger audience and more eyes to our content. Together, these factors have made LinkedIn a great source of visitors for our blog, and I’d imagine you might see a similar impact on your own site.

So the question becomes: How best to take advantage of this expanding interest in LinkedIn? Though the network isn’t analyzed in quite the same detail as Facebook and Twitter, there still exist several stats and tidbits that can help you improve your LinkedIn marketing and engage with your followers.
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The Power of Imperfect Starts: How Good Do You Really Need to Be to Get Started?

start buttonWhen you have a goal — whether it’s starting a business or eating healthier or traveling the world — it’s easy to look at someone who is already doing it and then try to reverse engineer their strategy.

In some cases, this is really useful. Learning from the experiences of successful people is a great way to accelerate your own learning curve.

But it’s equally important to remember that the systems, habits, and strategies that successful people are using today are probably not the same ones they were using when they began their journey.

What is optimal for them right now isn’t necessarily needed for you to get started. There is a difference between the two.

Let me explain.
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