New Year: New You. New Goals. New Growth. Right?
Despite us having seen so many ‘New Year/Big Dreams/Future Goals’ posts and videos over the last two weeks… most people will end 2018 without much change. Passion may have led you here, but learning and applying will take you farther.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s one thing to say you’re going to accomplish something, and another to do it. That’s not to say you can’t grow your digital empire into something huge… You could go from being an average blogger to a great one. From 1000 YouTube subscribers to 100,000. Or any other lofty goal. But are you setting yourself up to make those achievements a reality?
Well, let’s consider ONE question – how deep did you dive into your 2017 stats to make your plans for 2018? If your answer is anything less than a DEEP dive, then you might disappoint yourself come December 31, 2018. But lucky for you, there’s still time to revise your plans for the year by making data-informed decisions based on 2017.
What Content Resonated Best?
When we talk about the value of content, we can’t ignore traffic numbers. For starters, you should identify the 10 pieces of content that you created in 2017 that had the most views. Ignore any posts from before 2017 when creating the list. When you have those 10 posts, figure out why they got the most traffic. How long was the post? What kind of content was it? Did it land on Google/YouTube Page 1 search results? How was the content written?
Basically, create a detailed profile of what was popular across all ten posts. Chances are, they all have a LOT of similarities.
To give you a real-world example, one website I write for, our top ten posts were all reviews, over 1500 words, of highly anticipated products. The SEO on them was well done and they paired videos with written content. The engagement was high via comments and social sharing. 7/10 posts were ‘controversial’ in their reviews – i.e. we pointed out major flaws in design/features. With that information in mind, repeating that success for 2018 is far more likely. We have identified what people LIKE reading and can now better serve them.
What Content Delivered Organic Growth?
You might think that the content that resonates best with your audience also has the best organic traffic – but that’s not always the case. While social sharing of content or YouTube’s recommended videos is organic – it’s not always SEO related. That’s why you should do an organic growth deep dive in your stats. Find the top 20 posts for organic search results and compare them. What lessons can you take from them? Why did they perform better than others? Was it the keyword? Popularity of a topic (pop culture)?
SEO is an increasingly competitive, yet important factor in content creation. While algorithms may seek to demote your content in social feeds, good SEO will ensure your stuff gets eyes on it. If you’re not using Yoast SEO (for WordPress) or VidIQ (for YouTube), you should be. You can dive into your Search results via Google Analytics or Google’s Search Console.
What Content was Most Shared?
Find out what content was most shared and where it was shared. If you’re a lucky YouTuber, you may have had a Reddit hit. If you scored a hit as a blogger, search for the link on Twitter. Find out WHERE and WHO is sharing your content. With that information, you can analyze those people and determine if there are any similarities. A friend of ours has a lot of his YouTube content shared on Reddit where it gets significant upvotes and drives huge traffic numbers. He creates celebrity content, and the people who share it on Reddit are deep into new celebs/meme subreddits. That’s valuable information for him, and he’s now avoiding creating content about ‘older’ celebs.
While your own results may not be so clear, you can still learn about what encourages your audience to act.
What Elements Created Engagement?
When we talk about engagement, we don’t (just) mean comments/likes/shares. Rather, what encouraged people to do something directly after looking at your content?
On YouTube, did they click to view another video? Did they subscribe? Did they use your end cards? What about clicking links in the description? Find out what they clicked on often and determine why they might have engaged that way. If you did a video on a product, did they click the Amazon link? That’s a buying signal. Did they view another video that was like this one? That’s a content signal. Once you know WHY people engage, you can better use those tools to benefit you and your channel.
For bloggers, did someone sign up for your newsletter? Did they click on a ‘Similar Post‘ recommendation? Did they click a social link? A link within the post? Determine what elements are the most engaging for visitors and figure out what you can learn from them. Perhaps it’s something visual versus text that encourages more engagement, or the content style itself? Figure it out and use that information.
What Wasted your Time?
One of the most important reflections is on content that wasted your time. Content that no one looked at, or that people tuned out of quickly (retention/time). With YouTube’s retention statistics, you can figure out exactly when people clicked off the video. With Google Analytics, you can determine at roughly what point in a blog post people got bored of it. Any piece of content that got low views should be examined to avoid making that kind of content again. The reality is if you’re spending your time creating content no one is interested in – you’re wasting your time. Instead of writing four posts that no one reads, spend that time dedicated to creating one post that everyone must read.
Beyond the content, look at your process and what caused wasted time. Is your website down often because you don’t have the bandwidth to handle the traffic? Then invest in better hosting. Are you finding it takes too long to make technical updates? Hire someone. Does scheduling your posts/social take too much time away from creating? Hire a digital assistant. Your time is BEST used creating incredible content, so you should try cutting out the time wasters.
Make 2018 Your Year!
2018 is a year where you CAN blow up as a creator. There’s so much potential to experience massive growth, but it’s not going to happen by luck or sheer effort alone. You can’t will your way into success. Presuming you’ve been creating for longer than a year, you have 365 days of data to guide your performance ahead. USE IT! Don’t just say “I’m going to post X times,” or “I’m going to get X views,”. Instead, act and achieve based on data. It’s what any smart creator is going to do, and it’s why they are going to thrive. Be part of that success!