Since one of the key functions of social media marketing is engaging in a conversation with your customers, it makes sense to develop a set of metrics that you can measure and track on a regular basis. This post focuses specifically on measuring the customer engagement with your blog, future posts will deal with engagement metrics for other social media platforms.
After all – what gets measured improves, and what gets measured and reported on improves immensely.
But that brings us to the challenge of any measurement objective – finding measurements that:
- Are indicative of the behavior being measured (data is useless unless it actually reflects the underlying behavior being measured, in this case, engagement)
- Are directly and unquestionably quantifiable (soft measurements that can’t be replicated are less valuable than hard ones that can be replicated and can’t be questioned.)
- Can be gathered inexpensively (with expense being defined in terms of both monetary and time costs.)
- Bonus: Are predictive – where changes in x metric actually can predict future changes in other, more important metrics (like sales) in the future.
Sorry for the technical aside, but I wanted to throw them into your thought process, because those factors are worth considering for any measurements you gather and upon which you measure the performance of yourself or your company.
What factors meet the above critera for measuring a blog’s engagement? Here are a few that I like to track: (Remember, as you view these that I’m targeting engagement here. There are other factors that I track (for example, traffic, traffic from search engines, etc.,) that are not directly engagement-related.
- Number of desired actions (sales, subscriptions, etc.) with your blog appearing as the referrer source(Each of the next three factors is measured for the blog overall and for the new posts in that particular month, as the data on the new posts tends to be trending and predictive of future performance.)
- Number of comments
- Number of unique commenters
- Number of tweets (The remainder of this list is tracked for the blog as a whole, as it is generally too “expensive” to track them all the way to specific posts)
- Number of incoming links
- Average time on site
- Number of “direct” visitors (people who keyed the url in directly, or came from another source that did not provide referrer data)
- The non-bounce rate (remember that higher bounce rates are a bad thing, and that the mind tends to equate more with better. So I subtract the bounce rate from 100, call it my non-bounce rate, and track that. (So, a 60.4% bounce rate equals a non-bounce rate of 39.6%)
- Number of RSS subscriptions
- Number of Diggs/Del.icio.us/Propeller bookmarks from the domain (may want to substitute a different site that applies more directly to your subject matter) – of course, this assumes that you’re not gaming the systems by bookmarking your own work
Agree/disagree with any of these? Are there metrics we’ve missed? Let me know by making a comment below!
i think that social media is the best way to market your product and services. I am using this trick since the last 2yr. Andfrom my experience it definitely works, but you should have to choose the right path. A great full information shared in this post and it is also useful for me.
Your list is very thought provoking and I found it at the right time. The end of the year when all information should be clearly looked at.
It does provoke a couple of questions:
How would you keep track of what you are measuring? A spread sheet with each individual area you are tracking?
I do agree with Joan and would have the same questions as she does regarding the influence of a blogger.
@Joan – you had some very good insight as well. Thanks for your insight and thinking about the other side.
Good question, Ria! I use spreadsheets and graphs and they go into my reporting system that I use to track everything.
Awesome web site, I hadn’t noticed http://www.doncrowther.com earlier in my searches!
Carry on the superb work!
Don, I’d love to read a blog post from you on the four or five (or more) ways that we can determine the influence or reach of a particular blogger.
I know how to find bloggers in a certain niche, but once you find them, how do you judge the effectiveness of their blog?
You might want to check out Erik Peterson (Web Analytics Demystified) who has some great engagement metrics and also this http://kdpaine.blogs.com/themeasurementstandard/2009/12/toward-a-definition-of-engagement.html
Interesting link Katie. I don’t usually allow links in comments, but yours had significant value.
So here’s my real question – many of the points you made are good and desireable, but how many of them pass the 4 keys to effective metrics cited at the beginning of my post? Several of them, though cool, for example, would be quite expensive to gather.
Love your feedback!
Love your list. But how about looking at measurement from the opposite side, too?
Instead of just measuring how much we’re getting, let’s measure how much we’re giving. I think the latter might very well lead to more of the former. A few examples of giving:
–How often are we blogging? I hear from so many people who start on Monday and quit by Friday “because I’m not getting any traffic.”
–How often are we writing about our competitors?
–How often are we featuring guest bloggers, including our competitors, who have something valuable to say to our readers?
–Do we bother to reply to comments at our blogs? I started doing this a few months ago, fairly consistently, because it shows I want to continue the conversation, and I’m noticing the number of comments from others is increasing. Also, replying will encourage people to return to my blog to see what I had to say about their comment. Besides, it’s the polite thing to do.
–Do we show readers that we welcome comments and prod them into writing them? You did in the last paragraph of your post above.
–Do we show readers how easy it is to use our blog? I love your little note reminding people to get a gravatar. I’m going to steal this idea (I know you won’t mind) and use it at my own blog.
P.S. As I go from blog to blog posting comments like this one, I sometimes them turn my more substantial comments into posts for my own blog. That’s what I’m going to do right now. I’ll simply save these comments to my clipboard, go over to my blog, write a post, link to this post, and add to my list if I can think of anything else.
Great points Joan. There clearly is a case for looking at engagement from the other side.
I especially love your point about replying to comments. Though that’s hard for many of us to do, it does significantly increase the level of engagement that we’re giving back to our readers.
And you’re also right about blog replies we make turning into blog posts on our own blogs. I do it frequently. Plus, I find that any time I write something substantive, I question whether it would make a good blog post somewhere (or, for those of us who have more than one blog, in many places.)
Take care Joan! I always appreciate your comments.