How do you know which content to reshare?

Which web pages are your most popular?

Which tweets are your most popular?

How do you know which content to reshare?

These are not infrequent questions asked by content marketers. How do you decide what’s popular? One of the simplest methods is to use quartiles. If you’re unfamiliar with quartiles, they are a basic statistical analysis method in which a normally distributed data set is split into 4 even pieces. For the purpose of this post, we’ll want to focus on the upper quartile, the top 25% of anything you do.

To make this more concrete, let’s walk through an example. Go to Google Analytics. Go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.


Set the list using the dropdown box in the bottom right to 50 pages, then export into the spreadsheet software of your choice. Eliminate all of the extraneous columns until you’re just left with pages and views:


In a column next to the views, write this formula: =Quartile(B2:B51,3) (assuming you have 50 lines of data from B2 to B51, otherwise adjust):


It’ll come up with a number that represents the third quartile boundary, or where the upper 25% of your data is. These are the most popular posts. The third quartile represents the upper 25% of traffic you’ve obtained. If I make a chart with this data, it looks like this:


What do you do with this information? If you’re re-posting content on social media, use this as the boundary line for what to retire and what to leave out. It’s a great place to start. Bear in mind you can use this method for any marketing analytics data set you have.

Consider paying to promote some of the posts in the top quartile. They’ve already proven themselves, proven their worth – what if you took it up a notch with a few dollars?

If you do any bylines or content syndication, consider these your A-Team. These would be the posts you might want to excerpt only, or write alternate versions for other platforms (at the very least attributing your content back to you).

By using a simple statistical method (and yes, it has its flaws, but that’s for another time), you’ve now got a starting point for identifying popular stuff. There’s nothing overly magical about quartiles themselves; you could use any quantile you wanted (10% brackets, 33% brackets, etc.) but quartiles are baked into most spreadsheet software, and they’re easy to explain to non-math inclined people.

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Selling social media to a sales-driven company

Jonathan Chiriboga asked:


The answer to this question is contingent upon your analytical skills. My tool of choice to prove the value of social media to lead generation and sales-focused people is Google Analytics.

In order to make this determination, goals and goal values in Google Analytics must be set up first. Once you’ve got goals and goal values, go into Google Analytics and find the Conversions menu on the left hand side:


Once you’ve found the section called Assisted Conversions and clicked on the item mult-channel funnels, you should see a screen that looks like this (assuming that you have goals and goal values operational):

Assisted_Conversions_-_Google_Analytics 2.jpg

What we see above is that social media has driven real revenue. In this particular case, since this is my personal website, Google Analytics is measuring eCommerce activity from book purchases. Social media drove 44 last touch purchases (meaning a social network post was the last thing someone did before buying) worth $142.53. Social also drove 24 assisted purchases (meaning that the social network post was part of the value chain but not the last thing someone did before buying) worth $77.70. Combined, social was worth $220.53, or 15.3% of my sales.

No VP of sales would dare throw away 15% of their sales revenue, not if they wanted to keep their jobs.

Now, if you’re B2B or complex B2C (because they’re the same thing), you’ll instead be measuring the inferred value of the leads you create, rather than the transactions themselves.

When you can prove that social media has a direct tie to sales, it becomes straightforward to sell in social. At this point, social media is a relatively known quantity, and there are case studies all over the Internet on sites like MarketingProfs and MarketingLand that you can show a skeptical VP of Sales or CMO. By explaining the above measurement strategy as part of your social program, you’ll prove that you’ve got your eye on what really matters to them, and that will go a long way towards getting their approval.

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Basics of social media marketing analytics tools

When it comes to measuring social media, what actually matters to you? I would argue that there are three basic categories of metrics, three buckets that truly matter when it comes to social media analytics. This is a topic I discussed in greater depth in my most recent book, Marketing Blue Belt.


The first bucket is audience. How fast is your audience growing? How large is your reach and your audience’s reach? Who’s in your audience – do you have the right people?

The second bucket is engagement. An audience that is passive is valueless. What content types do your audience engage with? What things do you do that get them to respond?

The third bucket is action. What actions are your audience taking that provide tangible benefit to your company? Perhaps this is visiting the website and entering the top of the marketing automation funnel. Perhaps this is  recommending your company to colleagues (which is not the same as sharing/retweeting!)

As is the case with the marketing funnel, this is more of an organizational map for your marketing rather than a clear way to measure where someone is in the customer journey. Customer journeys are rarely so neat. Someone can jump from being an audience member to recommending your company without needing to engage with you.

Map out your existing social media marketing data in these three buckets. You will note that you’ll have to go through several different data sources to obtain all of these numbers. There is no single tool that will effectively measure the entire impact of social media. That tool doesn’t exist (though some vendors may claim otherwise).

The tool that measures what matters most to me as a marketer, as someone responsible for lead generation, is Google Analytics. GA measures from just after engagement to the conversion on the website. For me, this is the part of the final that I need the most insight into. Assisted conversions and Google analytics lets me know how much social media contributes to conversions, even if it’s not the last thing that someone does.

That said, Google Analytics only covers a portion of the social funnel. There is no one social media analytics tool that does it all. Frankly, I would be a little concerned if there was one tried to do it all, because it could not possibly measure everything well. Imagine a tool that tried to measure audiences, engagement, lead conversion, ad tracking, and personally-identifiable information for lead management in one product. That is not a recipe for success. Imagine a car that had all of the utility of a station wagon, the speed of a sports car, the fuel efficiency of a hybrid, the power of a race car? Such a Frankenstein beast would be the worst of all worlds.

The closest you’ll get to one tool that does it all is reporting software and washboarding software. You can do this in spreadsheets and Google documents for free, or you can purchase more expensive systems that attempt to unify data sources. Chances are, you’ll end up doing some of your reporting in a spreadsheet no matter what.

What should you look for in a social media analytics tool? Given the above, avoid any vendor that promises you everything. Look for vendors instead who are exceptionally good at their small portion of the social media analytics spectrum. Look for vendors with strong export capabilities and strong, easy to use APIs. The true test of an analytics tool is how freely they let you take your data somewhere else.

You’ve now got the basics of social media analytics tools and measurement. If you want to learn much more about developing a marketing analytics framework, go grab a copy of Marketing Blue Belt.

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