Making sense of social metrics

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How to determine which data can help you find the right blogs and sites

Photo courtesy of Todd Sternisha

Photo courtesy of Todd Sternisha

Too often, discussions about Web audience metrics and social media metrics get bogged down in the minutiae of how they’re calculated, rather than how they can help you find the most influential blogs and social networks for developing relationships. As I’ve discussed here before, if your goal is simply to get as many eyeballs on content about your brand as possible, your best bet may be to look for patterns of strong activity across both traditional Web metrics (such as Unique Visitors) and social metrics (like inbound links and blog comments). But without tracking lots of figures for each blog or site you think may be worthwhile, you can use some of these metrics individually to hone in on which online destinations are right for your campaign based on your goals and your social media strategy.

We’ve announced that the CisionPoint platform (recently nominated for a CODiE) now contains a wide variety of social and Web audience metrics. You can look down below for specifics about what these mean. But how do you put all of that data to use in finding the sites that will help you reach your specific targets? That will depend a great deal on what you want to accomplish.

For example, if you’re trying to use online video to promote your brand online, you may be more interested in how much time each user is spending per visit (or “session”) on a particular video site before you invest time and effort reaching out. That’s going to give you a better gauge than the standard Unique Visitors per Month figure of how many people are likely to actually watch your video, rather than bouncing on to something else. You may also want to track Media Views (views of videos and images) rather than Site Views. By contrast, if your goal is to generate discussion amongst bloggers, you may want to focus on inbound links, comments and unique commenters.

The number of ways in which influence online can be measured is continuing to grow and allow us to gauge influence in ways that better reflect whether a particular blog or site is a good target given the goals of your particular campaign.

Cision Social Metrics

Average Time Spent. The average time, expressed in hours, minutes and seconds, each user spends on the site each time they visit. Great for comparing sites with multimedia content, especially video.

Average Visitors/Month. The number of unique people visiting the site each month. This has long been the gold standard for traditional Web audience measurement.

Number of unique people commenting on a blog in the past 30 days relevant to any one of 5 major Industry Segments from which you may choose (Business & Finance, Consumer, Healthcare, Technology and Travel & Tourism).

Comments. Number of comments left by a blog’s readers in the past 30 days relevant to any one of the 5 Industry Segments.

Engagement Level. A 1-to-10 ranking that gauges the length of comments and the frequency of multiple comments from the same users. Great for seeking out blogs that attract communities of active commenters. Those folks are likely to go on to discuss the content on their own blogs and on social networks, broadening your reach.

Inbound Links. Number of links from other blogs and sites active in the past 30 days. Inbound links are the currency of the blogosphere; blogs with high inbound-link counts tend to have their content discussed heavily on other blogs as well.

Media Views (Videos/Images). Number of views of videos and images on the site in the past 30 days. A great metric if multimedia content is part of your campaign.

Monthly Site Views. Number of Web pages viewed on the site per month.

On-Topic Inbound Links, Posts and Replies.
Number of inbound links, posts and forum replies in the past 30 days to posts relevant to any one of the 5 Industry Segments.

Thread Size (Forums). Applicable to forum sites. The total number of posts per thread on a particular forum site in the past 30 days. While forums are often snubbed as a “Web 1.0” technology, lots of great discussions still happen there, particularly on niche topics. Forums can be a great opportunity to find people who don’t engage in other forms of social media.

Unique Monthly Sessions. Number of unique visits to the site. Regardless of how many pages each user viewed, each visit is counted once.

Vote Count. Total number of citations on any of three key social-bookmarking and news-sharing sites in the past 30 days: Digg, Delicious and Reddit. These sites point people toward content about your brand in democratic ways; the more votes your mention receives on a particular site, the more people will see it.

Questions about how to apply social metrics to your campaign? Submit them in the comments or feel free to email me, jay.krall at

Tags : social media

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