How to Use a Dashboard
Today, the average person manages a ton of information compared, even, to the amount of information managed by your parents’ generation — let alone your grandparents’. Managing all that complex information is time consuming, and can seriously cut down on productivity. And as we’re all aware, a loss of productivity has a direct impact on your bottom line.
It’s totally understandable that you’d feel a little overwhelmed, but what if you were given a solution that allowed managing information to be more peaceful, productive, and profitable?
I would like to promise you a panacea — a way out of the rough seas of information in which you find yourself floating.
Unfortunately, I can’t.
What I can offer you are information and resources about how to use a dashboard to make your (work) life a little more sane and stable (not to mention productive and profitable.)
What is a Dashboard?
Originally, a dashboard was a part of a carriage akin to a windscreen. It extended in front of the carriage driver to prevent mud from being kicked — or “dashed” — up from the horse’s hooves. As carriages evolved into automobiles, the board became a natural anchor point for the driver’s controls and instruments, though the splash-guard function was shifted to the windscreen, especially as driving speeds increased. Today, we still use dashboards for the various instruments and read-outs in cars, but the idea of a central location which collects and displays a variety of data is too perfect a metaphor to be left out of the Information Age.
As a San Francisco digital marketer, I don’t have a car.
What I do have is the internet and, for contemporary digital marketers like myself, dashboards have become an indispensable productivity tool.
A digital dashboard has the following uses:
Because, as I said, we are living in the Information Age, if you can monitor, manage, and analyze information — or pay someone else to manage it for you — you will live a more peaceful, productive and profitable life.
The purpose of a digital dashboard is to take all of the millions, if not billions, of bits and bytes of information you must manage and make them, well, more manageable.
How to Use a Dashboard to Get a More Peaceful, Productive, and Profitable Life
In a nutshell, if you can monitor, manage and analyze your data without having to keep track of different tabs, log in to different platforms, or go to different websites, your (work) life will be more streamlined. It will be easier to research your marketing and respond to what your audience is saying.
Perhaps most importantly, having a dashboard helps beginners analyze the results of their online marketing efforts, including blogging and social media marketing.
I will explain the role of each type of dashboard and provide some actionable tips and resources.
What is a Monitoring Dashboard?
Another word for “monitoring” in the world of online marketing is “listening.” Listening makes you a better online marketer and blogger because when you respond to your target audience it is with a real understanding of what they are saying online and what their needs are.
A monitoring dashboard allows you to look at several information streams at once. This is typically accomplished through RSS feeds. Since Google Reader is going by the wayside, I recommend Netvibes, but there are many others. To find out more, Google “free social media dashboards.”
What is a Managing Dashboard?
Managing, or productivity dashboards, help you get things done. For example, if you have Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter all in one place, you can both monitor what is being said and respond right away.
Although Netvibes is a great free monitoring tool, I like to use HootSuite for managing my day to day social media needs. The free version allows you to schedule tweets and other posts and this is very handy, indeed!
If your needs outstrip the free version, there is a premium version, too.
What is an Analyzing Dashboard?
One famous marketing axiom has it that if you are not measuring, it isn’t marketing. It is important to find out whether your marketing efforts are paying off and to recalibrate if they are not. Analytics are all about choosing metrics (measures) to find out if your efforts are paying off and then analyzing the data associated with those metrics.
Google Analytics provides a free dashboard for those who have installed Google Analytics on their websites and blogs. I use Google Analytics and recommend this powerful free set of tools to everyone.
Recently, however, I found Dashboard Junkie. Dashboard Junkie has pre-configured dashboards that make analyzing data easier for beginners.
The Take Home
Using and understanding dashboards takes time in the beginning and new tools are becoming available all the time. The important thing to remember is that, given time, these tools really can help you monitor, manage and analyze your online work. This, in turn, will make your (work) life more peaceful and productive and thus allow you to focus on developing your business and boosting your profits.
Colibri Digital Marketing
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Originally published at colibridigitalmarketing.com on August 21, 2017.