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June 5th, 2009

Blog Post Touch-Point and Interaction Measurement

About a month or so ago I installed Backtype Connect on my personal blog because one of its features allowed for Twitter updates containing links to a post to be counted and listed among the comments and links for that post. It was another bit of information – meta-data if you will – about that post that was interesting to me because it showed a point of interaction and that seemed important and interesting to me.

But recently I’ve been thinking about what sorts of meta-data we’re still missing. So I wanted to try and list all the different forms of interaction there are around a particular post and see which ones can actually be captured by the author as they try to get a sense of how people are passing along or responding to their content.

Visit and Read

  • Interaction: Passive
  • Measurable: Yes

Subscribe with RSS and Read

  • Interaction: Passive
  • Measurable: Yes

Leave a Comment

  • Interaction: Active
  • Measurable: Yes

Link to from own Blog

  • Interaction: Active
  • Measurable: Yes

Link to from Social Network

  • Interaction: Active
  • Measurable: Yes, but only with proper tools in place

Share through Link Blog (Google Reader, Newsgator, etc)

  • Interaction: Active
  • Measurable: No (visits are a sub-set of all visits)

Share through Email/IM

  • Interaction: Active
  • Measurable: No (visits are a sub-set of all visits)

Share on Social News/Bookmarking Sites (Digg, Delicous, etc)

  • Interaction: Active
  • Measurable: Yes (assuming you can track referrals)

Contact Author

  • Interaction: Active
  • Measurable: No (at least not in a quantitative way)

So now let’s look at what sort of things you can do with a Twitter post. I’m doing this because, for a lot of people, Twitter is becoming a secondary blog outlet. It’s far beyond the point where they’re posting status updates and instead it’s being used as a communications outlet for thinking about the issues of the day and more. Let’s use the assumption that all of these activities have Active levels of Interaction since all actions around an update are deliberate other than simply reading.

Reply

  • Measurable: I can see how many people have replied to me and, by clicking the “in reply to CThilk” link see which post they replied to, but I can’t see all the replies to a particular post in one bucket. Plus, if the respondent puts any characters before my name it doesn’t get counted as a reply.

Retweet

  • Measurable: Yes, but with the same caveats. It’s a bit more obvious because for the most part the text is retained, but you still can’t see the meta-data around that update specifically.

Favorite

  • Measurable: No. I can’t see which of my updates might have marked by people as a Favorite.

Direct Message the Author

  • Measurable: Yes, though I still can’t see if they’re in response to a particular post directly, just through the content of the message. Plus, DMs are often used as a communications tool similar to email so it’s not always a message in reponse to an update.

What all of this thinking has done for me is made me want to take part in more activities that are measurable by the author. At the very least when I do something that’s not currently measurable I want to do something that is. So if I share an item through Google Reader I also want to make a point to comment on the post, even if it’s just to say that I found the post interesting and useful.

Some of these activities could be changed in ways that make them more measurable. Again I’ll use the example of Google Reader Shared Items. A user’s Shared Items are, in addition to being visible to someone’s Gmail Friends, published to a Link Blog. If that link blog was counted as a stand-alone site that showed up in the trackbacks to a particular post then it would be a lot more informative to the author. The same thing would apply to sharing an item on Delicious and elsewhere.

We’re still a ways away from all interaction points around a single post being viewable, either to the author or to the outside reader. As marketers we should be hoping for the day when more of these metrics are accessible and viewable so that we can gauge not only a blog’s reach – it’s visitor and subscriber numbers – but also the true level of community interaction with that blog.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Blogging

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