Sunday, July 13, 2008

What is the right measure of blog engagement?

I've written a couple of posts recently on how throwaway posts often draw the greatest response, and how serious posts do not.

Several of the comments on these posts have pointed out that comments alone aren't the best measure of blog engagement.

The redoubtable Devin Reams wrote:

"Some of your deeper stuff may be more thought provoking, though. Using comments isn't the best judge. In other words, what if you said EVERYTHING there is to say and it was so great I couldn't possibly add to it (or don't want to risk embarrassment leaving a comment). Do you track number of incoming links / page views and other variables?

I doubt the "most popular" would be the same across all variables (which may or may not be obvious)."

Alex added:

"I think another problem is that people gauge the attention a post is getting by the number of reader comments. Obviously that isn't a good metric - shorter posts are easier and less intimidating to respond to.

If I read a long well written post, I either agree or disagree (to some part or the whole). If I agree I probably won't say anything, and there it is unlikely I'll spent the time on a well written rebuttal, opting to say nothing at all instead."

So I'll put it to you? What is the right measure of blog engagement?
  • Comments
  • Pageviews
  • Inbound links
  • Social bookmarks (del.icio.us/Digg/Reddit/Stumbleupon)

And it it is all of the above, is there an easy way to measure it? Seems to me that there's a business opportunity in this!

4 comments:

Alex said...

s/there/otherwise/

Yet another reason not to leave comments to well thought out posts: If you want to argue or make an additional point you need to spend a lot of time making sure you make your point clearly and without error.

Andy McKenzie said...

Maybe word number in comments too? And if we're talking business, the obvious answer seems to be ads clicked on/page views because what else matters to an internet business, really.

Delicious/technorati links would only work with big blogs, for smaller ones these numbers would be too choppy.

Taisha said...

This is a tough question because I think it all depends on how your readers use the information you provide. For instance, your post on Wealth, Race and Conspicuous Consumption from a few days ago prompted me to 1) read the article to which you linked; 2) e-mail your post to 5 friends who don't use sites like digg; 3) add it to del.ici.ous; and 4) also discuss it via phone with another person. So I presume the closest approximation to tracking this would be page views.

Devin Reams said...

Wow, the use of 'redoubtable' is redoubtable itself. ;-)

I think it's the holistic approach that makes the most sense. Quantitative is good, qualitative is good... but both together give a good picture of what's going on.

You also have take into account the purpose of the blog. If it's merely to entertain can you count how many people laughed? If it's to earn a living you certainly don't care how many words are left in a comment.