We think it’s useful for global content creators to revisit their social media strategies on a regular basis, given the importance of real-time and historical data to inform optimizations — especially when time and resources are scarce.

We recently hosted a webinar on the topic of social media strategies, considering the channel’s growing influence during major events such as coronavirus. With that in mind, we wanted to provide social media tips that’ll help you answer these three questions:

  • How do I see all of my traffic from social in Chartbeat?
  • How do I use Chartbeat to surface content to post on social?
  • How do I use Chartbeat to understand the content that resonates with audiences most?

Let’s get started.

Step 1: How to see your social traffic in Chartbeat

For Chartbeat users, this begins in the Real-time Dashboard. On the right side of the dashboard, you can see all of the sources that are referring traffic to your site. For the sake of this article, filter on social traffic, as shown below.

Now you can see the specific social referrers to your site — what does all of this information actually mean?

  • Email, apps, and IM — This is what we refer to as “dark social” or any peer-to -peer sharing that we don’t track, such as whatsapp, imessage or other messaging apps. We do not categorize this traffic as Direct traffic like some other analytics services do because we think it’s useful to categorize these different visitor behaviors separately. 
  • Direct visitors — Navigate directly to your homepage or other landing pages using a bookmark or typing your domain into their browser, versus Direct-Social visitors that are referred via a link from a platform or website that does not permit the transfer of referrer data in the network request to your site. 
  • Tweets by Traffic — We also will always break out any Tweets that are sending traffic to your site in this section.

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Signals of social media opportunities

Next, let’s look at the Top Stories section where you may see what we call Badges. 

What are Chartbeat’s Social Badges? 

These will show up with a social platform’s logo and a percentage, indicating that you have an unusually high number of visitors from a social platform on that page. 

What do the Badges mean?

If you’re seeing a social badge (shown below as blue and red icons under an article), it’s an indicator that this article is doing especially well at driving traffic from social media. This should also signal that it’s time to double down on promoting it on that platform and across your other social channels.

Another way to stay ahead of trends on social media is through paying attention to your Spike Alerts. When an article is seeing higher engagement from social or link sources at a faster rate than average for your site, Chartbeat will send a Spike Alert. 

When you get a Spike Alert, here are two immediate steps you can take:

  1. First, check where most of the audience on that post is coming from — if it’s social, get that post up everywhere you can or promote it further. There’s a strong possibility that many of the visitors coming from social may be new readers, so you have an opportunity to optimize the article for deeper engagement and recirculation.

Tracking reader engagement through UTMs 

If you tag your social posts with UTM codes, you can use Chartbeat to track how they’re performing in real-time. This allows you to make important decisions about what to promote and where. 

(Note: UTM traffic is tracked historically through our premium reporting tool Advanced Queries, where you can set up a recurring report to stay on top of longer term trends)

Step 2: Surface content with Historical data

You can inform your social traffic future by understanding the past using our Historical Dashboard. Here’s a few tips on how to get the most out of your historical data:

  • When you segment by timeframe, you can see which hours or days of the week your audience is coming to your site from social. 
  • If you scroll down, you will see a list of your top articles for that time period, with Badges that note if there was anything unique about the traffic or engagement on that article, including if there was a high amount of engagement from visitors coming from social. 

For an even deeper view of what performed well on social, you can use our Historical Reports tool. These reports, which can be sent to your email either daily or weekly, can highlight:

  • Certain traffic sources that referred more traffic than usual
  • An article saw more social traffic than average 
  • New trends that could help inform your social strategy

Step 3: Show me the social content

Now that we know where to find social traffic information in Chartbeat, the next step is understanding how this data can inform your content strategy. 

Curating the best content for social media

We regret to inform you that despite your best efforts, some of your content just won’t work on certain platforms. Here’s why:

  • Our data shows that search audiences are drawn to factual, personally relevant stories, such as election results or sports scores. 
  • On social, stories with a more emotional, human spin on the news tend to resonate more. 

Consider this when deciding which stories to post or promote on social, and which to optimize for search. 

That said, if you’re seeing an older article suddenly spiking in traffic without any promotion, this points to an audience engagement opportunity. First, make sure it’s getting some additional play on your social platforms. In-page optimizations, such as links to any updated information you may have published since, are also helpful for new and returning audiences. 

When should I post content to get the best results?

In general, we saw that social traffic outperforms overall traffic during evenings and nights (notably 6 p.m. to midnight). In contrast, it underperforms overall traffic from the morning through to the early afternoon. 

when to post on social media hourly chart

While the data indicates it’s worth trying to post more later in the day, you can also put that data to the test. Run an experiment around social media timing, and adjust to your audiences’ preferences. And just in case you might be wondering, this data was adjusted for different time zones since we work with a wide range of global publishers. 

(For further reading, see: When is the best time to post on social media? It’s later than you think)

Before you go posting to all of your social channels at 11 p.m., it would be worth looking at your historical data to understand which days and times your audience is spending the most time on social, or is most likely to come to your site from social. 

If you’re more of a visual learner,  I’ve taken the liberty of taking you through all of this in an easy-to-follow webinar, which you can watch here.


If you have any questions about social media optimization, let us know on Twitter @Chartbeat or contact our technical solutions team at support@chartbeat.com.

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