Note: For the most accurate info grab the URL from your browser, since HTTP & HTTPS will show different share stats. Also Twitter no longer supports share data :( but they're totally cool with bots ;)
As you're hopefully aware, since Google wants people to run ads on their platform they actually provide quite a bit of information about keywords that are generating consistent traffic on a monthly basis.
And Ranking your content for terms that people are constantly searching for in Google is actually the most consistent way for a site to generate traffic. (And since Amazon controles 40% of eCommerce search this is a great way to get your audiences attention) In this endeavor, keyword ranking tools like SEMrush (pricey, but the best and features a 7 day money back guarantee) and SERPstat (Cheaper plans, and great info) can be our friends.
Better than social shares in my opinion is if you have a piece that is ranking, or almost ranking around certain keywords that can give you a good sense of how much people like it, and what kind of content to write more of. If you add your domain or URL to the search bar below you can directly explore which keywords a given URL on your site is ranking for. Although social shares are not a direct ranking factor, this info can help you solve the other side of the puzzle among your customers as far as search engine traffic goes.
Gauging the impact and quality of your content is no easy task. While social shares are useful metric, there are other important areas you can look at to gauge the success of your content. If you're wondering how to get social shares look no further than this page for most major networks. There are a few intangibles, when it comes to a service like Twitter that has stopped serving up social information you basically have to rely on a social plugin on your site or one of the few services that keeps a running total of your shares, since the information dissappears every 7 days. Google+ is also a tricky platform since they do technically still give you share data, but it has to be authenticated and this is most easily done by a social share counter that lives on your site.
At the end of the day I think there is a lot to be said for just using other metrics to track success. Getting things like Facebook likes, Facebook shares, and comment counts is pretty easy. Likewise with Pinterest and the other networks I've included here, but there is a big question of how many results that's actually getting you. From my experience I'll be clear and state that social metrics do matter and are helpful. It's important to know that customers like your content and are engaging with it. But you also have to remember as a marketer, business owner, or writer that actually getting people back to your site to engage on your site is important. I'll dissect how to view social hsares and othe metrics for the three types of people who might be here:
What Does & Doesn't Matter for Social Metrics as far as being a business owner goes? For a business owner I think the happiness from social shares is going to be the most ephemeral. You're closest to the bottom line, and you're the only one equipped to gauge the value of any content that is on your site. I think social shares let you know how good your content is but not if it's working. On a micro level you need to chase down the actual traffic impact and revenue impact of any piece of content that's going out there. Checking rankings, backlinks, and analytics information should be your focus. Rankings matter becasue they provide reliable and continuous sources of traffic to your content. If you're building out content that is in your niche, this traffic should be attracting qualified or potential buyers to the site. Good content will also build you good links over time and send ranking signals to your site. Good rankings and good ranking signals are the most reliable way to generate revenue for your business in the long run. Free search engine traffic that actually turns into customers is going to be your most cost effective source of revenue.
What Does & Doesn't Matter for Social Metrics as far as being a writer goes? If you're a writer I'd argue that social shares matter a lot. It means that you have chops and you can produce content people want to read. One piece that goes viral or is even a little bit popular could totally change the trajectory of your career. If you're looking for a job social shares are great indicators of success. If you eventually want your blog to become a source of business through some other monetization platform then it's important to look at your work as a business owner would.
What Does & Doesn't Matter for Social Metrics as far as being a marketer goes? Ahhh the marketer, like you I've fallen in and out of love with social shares. We're expected to provide traffic and sales, yet aren't the sales team... so we always have to know exactly what's going on. The fact is that any good content marketing campaign will take some time. You'll need to build out a strategy and execute on it. Social shares, and then Analytics traffic, and rankings/backlinks can be good indicators of success. I tend to use social shares as a litmus test to indicate whether I'm on the right track with content. Though be aware, that if you, or your client are running social ads on content it will inevitably get an artificially higher number of social shares then if it had just been freely out in the wild.
No matter which way you cut it social shares are important, but I've included links to 5 other sources of data, because they really don't give anyone enough information to decide whether content is working or not.
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