3 Numbers That Matter to Your Platform


Macca / Flickr

Macca / Flickr

Nonfiction authors have probably heard the refrain, “Build your platform! Build your platform!” but may not know what a strong platform looks like.

Every platform is different (we are all unique individuals!), but here are 3 specific numbers that can come in handy when proving the size, strength, or impact of your online platform, especially in a book proposal.

1. How many people visit your site monthly?

Google Analytics

Google Analytics dashboard (there’s a whole world of data waiting underneath these surface figures!)

This is easy to determine if you have Google Analytics installed. Check your dashboard and look at how many people visit your site in a month’s time (the default view). See how that compares month-on-month, and year-on-year. Are you getting more visitors over time? What’s the percentage growth month-on-month or year-on-year? This is hopefully a positive indicator that lends strength to your platform.

Other Google metrics that can be important to your platform include:

  • What content is most popular on your site, especially if it’s highly ranked by Google’s search engines. E.g., “My blog posts on how to bathe your cat are the most highly ranked for anyone searching cat bath.” Or, “I receive more than 3,000 visits per month from people searching for cat bath.”
  • How long people stay on your site. The longer people stay, typically the more compelling your content is. This is also called “site stickiness.” Such visitors are more likely to respond to calls to action, buy things, click on ads, etc.
  • How people find your site. There is no “right” answer here, just insightful ones. For example, if you claim to have impact on Twitter or Facebook (see #3 below), that probably means a good portion of your site traffic should come from those sources. If you claim to be visible though search engines, your metrics should indicate meaningful search engine traffic. If your site is highly recommended by authorities in your community, you should be able to prove it by showing your referral traffic.

2. How many readers can you reach directly via e-mail?

Add the following numbers:

  • How many people subscribe to your site or blog via e-mail
  • How many people subscribe to your unique e-newsletter
  • How many people you would feel comfortable e-mailing personally about a book or product launch

This is the number of people you can reach directly via e-mail, and it’s a number that’s highly attractive to publishers. If you don’t currently have a way of capturing e-mail addresses, then consider starting an e-newsletter, or offering an e-mail based subscription to your blog.

3. What level of engagement do you have through your online channels? (Or: What is your ability to get people to ACT?)

One popular way to determine your engagement is to look at Klout statistics. (Klout measures social influence.) Once you’ve told Klout about all the services you use, it will start to tally how responsive people are. Here’s an example:

Klout 90-Day Activity

In this scenario, since I have roughly 145,000 followers on Twitter, and about 14,000 retweets/mentions, that reflects about 10% engagement. (Note: Don’t get hung up on the Klout score itself; instead, study how well you engage the following you do have.)

Other ways to gauge impact and responsiveness:

  • Part of a HootSuite analysis

    Part of a HootSuite analysis

    Use HootSuite to send your tweets. HootSuite provides you weekly analytics of how your tweets “performed” in terms of clicks, replies, RTs, etc. That way, even if you have a modest following of, say, 1,000 people, you might be able to say that you engage 30-50% of followers in a single day of tweeting. Having a ton of followers isn’t as impressive as actually having their attention.

  • Allow people to subscribe to your public updates on Facebook (via your personal profile). This is yet another number that helps indicate your visibility and impact through social networks. Of course, you may have a separate “business” profile page for Facebook; in that case, track how much engagement you have there. (If you have none, it’s time to correct that problem!) But for those who don’t have a business page, opening your profile up to subscribers is a great alternative. Click here for instructions on the Facebook subscribe function.
  • AddThis analytics

    AddThis analytics

    Track sharing statistics on your own site and through Google Analytics. I use the AddThis plug-in for my site, which publicly tallies the number of times an article is shared. This is very useful data to have on hand when making a platform statement about how well your content spreads. You can also use Google Analytics to help track how much of your traffic comes from social networks where you’re active.

Consider this just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the different metrics you can collect related to your online platform. If you don’t already have Google Analytics installed on your site, I recommend you start today!


  • angie

    Great information here as always. 

  • http://parisimperfect.wordpress.com/ Sion @ paris (im)perfect

    Great, informative post. WordPress.com doesn’t allow you to install Google Analytics, unfortunately, so I make do with the stats counter they have in the program.

  • Karen

    Great information! While I have Google Analytics the information it puts out can be a little overwhelming. It’s nice to have a few key areas to focus my attention on. Thank you for sharing!

  • JamesHRH

    Great stuff but I would absolutely rate Twitter followers and Twitter actions (retweet, reply, etc) over Klout scores.

  • http://www.danezeller.com/ Danezeller

    I find building a platform to be a series of hypotheses to be tested. Should I have a guest on my blog? Try it, and check the statistics the next day. I use Google Analytics, and will add your other recommendations. Thank you!

  • http://janefriedman.com Jane Friedman

    Not ideal, but I’m aware of the limitation. Hope you move to self-hosted site eventually (at least for the sake of more insightful analytics!).

  • http://janefriedman.com Jane Friedman

    Yes! I’m already thinking of a follow-up post about the next level of analytics authors might keep tabs on. :)

  • http://janefriedman.com Jane Friedman

    Yes, I think that is in fact what my post says?

  • http://janefriedman.com Jane Friedman

    Great approach!

  • JamesHRH

    My bad. Humble apologies. I read the entire post except for that line!

  • http://www.copywrighting.co.uk Rob Wright

    Hi Jane. I was just about to tweet this piece when I had a query on your engagement stat. If your mother was solely responsible for all those RTs & mentions, you couldn’t claim to have 10% engagement, right? For that stat to be truly meaningful, it’d need use the number of tweets over 90 days, rather than the number of followers, right…?

  • http://janefriedman.com Jane Friedman

    It’s true that’s not a perfect percentage. However, you can also look at Klout’s calculation of your reach to see if it “trues up.” My Klout reach stands at 11,000. That’s based on actual activity by followers. It doesn’t mean that more people aren’t listening, but it’s tough to know if they aren’t acting on your tweets. So, 10% remains a fairly reasonable figure.

  • http://twitter.com/JoeBeernink Joe Beernink

    I use WordPress, and I use StatCounter to track visits. It’s pretty easy to add the StatCounter script to a WordPress page. Not sure about Google Analytics though.

  • http://www.copywrighting.co.uk Rob Wright

    Big thanks for the very prompt reply, Jane. If Twitter is your primary method of reach, that sounds much more robust, ta. (Yes, I did read your previous comment, but not to worry!)

  • http://www.daisyamongroses.com/ Claire Johnson, M.D.

    Thanks so much for the great information. I just added “Subscribe” to my FB page and will tweet through HootSuite. I also have a WordPress blog. Do you recommend moving the blog? 

  • http://janefriedman.com Jane Friedman

    Thank you! I do recommend keeping the WordPress system, but moving to a self-hosted site, where you own your domain/URL. It’s not tough to do, though you may need to hire someone to help you make the move if you’re not technically inclined.

  • http://twitter.com/ConnorMeaks Connor Meakin

    very informative from pov of a new blogger. Re: wordpress stats, is statstracker sufficient for the time being?

  • http://janefriedman.com Jane Friedman

    It’s OK for a starter tool, sure.

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  • http://www.splitfeathers.blogspot.com Trace A. DeMeyer

    I have found it takes time and tweets to build readers but it is WORKING! http://www.splitfeathers.blogspot.com

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  • Angela Peart

    A very informative post, as always, Jane. I don’t quite understand Klout but I use Google Analytics.

  • http://twitter.com/DianeCapri Diane Capri

    Thanks for this, Jane. I must admit, I find all this mind-boggling, but I’m starting to get a handle on it (I hope!). 

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