Authored by Guest Blogger, Kaila Lawrence

Your metrics have been stagnant for weeks. They’re not getting worse, but they certainly aren’t getting better. Quiz: what do you do?

A. Accept this new plateau of mediocrity

B. Turn around and totally whip your content into KPI-crushing shape

I’ll give you a hint. It’s B. It’s easy to get complacent and let ‘meh’ metrics become a new standard. Never settle, my friends. Follow my tried-and-true 4 step method below that works for any social media platform. Download your free copy of my metric tracker at the end of this post and follow along.

1. Get your bearings

Twitter Analytics said my tweets in October earned 7.4K impressions. After I exported my data and added it up, I actually only earned 6,875. That means some 500 impressions came from tweets outside this timeframe.

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Take a look at the above: Twitter Analytics said my tweets in October earned 7.4K impressions. After I exported my data and added it up, I actually only earned 6,875. That means some 500 impressions came from tweets outside this timeframe.

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Not 7.4K. Twitter is a dirty liar.

First and foremost, you need to make sure the benchmarks you’re working with are accurate. The dashboard summary numbers displayed on built-in analytic tools account for aggregate data for the lifetime of your account, not just from the timeframe specified. Translation: that really hot post from 6 months ago someone liked today is included in this month’s measurement. If you’ve been using those dashboard numbers, you’ve actually been operating on inflated metrics.

This means–brace yourself–calculating your metrics (somewhat) manually. I know, I know… “but third party tools” and “math is hard.” Third party tools are even less reliable than built-in tools, and the only math you need is all set up in a downloadable template at the bottom of this post. Here’s what you do to get an accurate benchmark:

A. You don’t need to track all the things. Concentrate on metrics that are indicative of your social media goals. Do you post lots of video content? Percent completion will be useful. Brand awareness more your strategy? Impressions and follower growth should be important. Choose no more than 3 KPIs to focus on.

B. Do the math! In your platform, set your timeframe for 1 month and calculate each metric in a way that makes sense. For instance, you’d want a total number of impressions, but a percent average for engagement rate. Percent change is also great to track for any KPI to see trends month-over-month. These results will be the benchmarks to beat with your new content calendar. If you’re an overachiever, you can repeat this process for the past 3 months and average them out if you want to be super accurate.

Pro tip: most platforms let you export your data, which means it will pull all the numbers for you so you don’t have to go back post-by-post and record them yourself. Easy!

C. Input your results into your metric tracker. Create graphs to visualize your trends if you haven’t already. In the long term, this will help catch downturns before they crash, or upticks when you’re crushing it. Even better, if you’re using my template I’ve already done that for you.

2.  Analyze yourself

Now that you have accurate data, which months or weeks were your best? Pick out the salient features of your top 5 performing posts. Why do you think they resonated so well? How can you recreate similar content in a fresh way?

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If I were analyzing the above data, I’d go back to week 6/30 and 8/4 to see what I was posting that did so well. Conversely, I’d look at posts from 7/21 and take note of what wasn’t working.

Let’s say last month you linked to your blog about tips and tricks for your product that got lots of clicks and shares. This month, you could use the same idea as a video script. If video isn’t your strong suit, maybe do a follow up blog post with customer stories of unconventional ways they’re using that same product.

Pro tip: video content automatically gets algorithmic delivery preference on every social platform. Try to optimize for no sound–captions are key!

Remember: if you want something you’ve never had, you need to do something you’ve never done. Think outside the box. What can you do to really punch up the ‘wow’ factor using past success as a springboard?

3. Plan it out

Now that you know what kinds of content has historically performed well, it’s time to build your new content calendar.

A. Create 3-5 content ‘buckets,’ or categories. This will serve as the skeleton to your strategy; basically, it’s the foundation on which all the details will be built. Your content buckets should be general enough to be iterant, but specific enough to be differentiated from the others. Some examples:

  • Weekly features
  • Sales and special offers
  • Customer testimonials or case studies
  • Polls, trivia, or quotes

Feel free to add descriptions to each with parameters for what the post is about or should include like links, tags, or hashtags.

B. The next step is to consider your frequency: different platforms have different frequency sweet spots based on audience and function. Decide how often each content bucket appears during 30 days; MWF? Every other Thursday? Once a month? Be specific as possible.

C. Now consider your timing: optimize post times for when your audience is on each platform. Are they commuters? College kids? Stay-at-home parents? Again, be as specific as possible. Assign post times to each occurrence on your calendar.

D. Finally, combine all this info into one, easy-to-follow calendar. (If you need some help, check out this handy dandy content calendar template and guide.) This is your basic template to work from moving forward.

Your last step is to go back and actually flesh it out with copy, links, and any other relevant info for the next 30 days.  If you use a post scheduling tool, get them in there so you don’t forget!

4. Be patient, but proactive

A change in content schedule takes time to marinate. You need at least 30 days of consistency to evaluate your new plan’s effectiveness. Really stick to it–the fewer variables, the better. Record your data following the method in Step 1 weekly and again at the end of the month.

After 30 days, compare your results from your new plan’s data to the benchmark numbers you got in Step 1. Did your metrics improve? If so, from which content buckets and when? Think about the copy, the graphics, or engagement. Keep those parts of your calendar. Any bucket that performed significantly substandard to the baseline you can drop and replace with something new. If it was close but still beneath the baseline, try moving the bucket to a different day or time and see if it improves.

Now what?

If you saw some improvement, way to go! Don’t get discouraged if you didn’t get the results you hoped for the first time around. This is more art than science. I mean, if it were easy we’d be out of a job, right? Content calendars are living documents. Platform algorithms change, your product or brand changes, your audience churns, and the world keeps turning. When something isn’t working replace the broken part, not the whole engine.

The best part of going through this process? Now you have the beginnings of an effective (and accurate!) data tracker to establish trends and set new benchmarks moving forward. Continue to run your reports both weekly and monthly to have a holistic view of how your content performs. Repeat this tune-up process every 4 months or so to keep your social media machine running in peak condition.

Click here to get Kaila’s free social media metric tracker template!

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Kaila finds the most joy in crushing KPI’s, directly impacting user experiences, and creating saucy brand voices. She’s a fan of the Oxford comma, a strong headline, and even stronger margaritas.

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