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Chatter hotspots: where the most engaged blog commenters converse

Techies, fitness freaks and the celebrity obsessed are redefining the tired concept of engagement

How many times have you heard some variation on this piece of common-sense advice: when it comes to social media, monitor what’s being said about you, respond and engage in conversations. If you’re a little tired of hearing that line over and over, you’re not alone. So what blogs really attract the highest levels of engagement? Which ones serve not just as something to read, but as places where people go to converse, ask questions and bounce ideas off of each other?

People who comment frequently on blogs are content producers. Those who take part in lively discussions in the comment sections of popular blogs are the same people who are sharing links and thoughts on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and elsewhere, and blogging themselves. So it stands to reason that blog comments can be a great metric for determining a blog’s influence. If a blog receives a lot of comments, that’s one indication it has a community gathered around it that is likely to be sharing its content on social networks and in real life. But the total number of comments doesn’t tell the whole story.

A particular blog post might receive 200 comments, but if they’re all directed at the blogger, and the commenters aren’t discussing each other’s points or answering each other’s questions, that comments section is more like a lecture hall than a discussion group. Nothing wrong with that, but if you’re a public relations professional looking for bloggers to develop relationships with, it’s worth your time to find the blogs with the most engaged commenters: those who talk not just to the blogger, but to each other.  These folks, who go beyond the level of “Great post! Thanks for the tips!”, who give opinions, pose new questions and expand on ideas, are even more likely to share and create content in other places. So when you reach out to a blogger who has that kind of community, you’re making your voice heard in their spheres of influence as well.

Anyone can get an impression on how active a commenting community is just by reading a particular blog. If you want to get more scientific with it, Cision Social Media Dashboard powered by Radian6 offers a useful metric: the Average Engagement Score. This score measures, on a scale of 1 to 10, two important factors in determining real influence: 1) the length of comments on blogs, social networks and forums, and perhaps more importantly, 2) the extent to which unique commenters are repeatedly commenting back and forth to each other, creating a real discussion. For me, it offers the ability to do some nifty analysis to see, in general, where the real hotspots of conversation are.

I used this tool to create a list of online social destinations that have the highest levels of engagement in various topic areas. Heavily active forums tend to get a lot of the 10’s, but I wondered, which blogs are at the top? Three topic areas stood out: technology, fitness and celebrity. Tech blogs have hugely engaged audiences, like GadgetMania.com, which scored a 7. CrossFit.com, where a blogger posts grueling workout regimens and readers share their experiences completing them, had the most engaged fitness blog audience, with a 7. Some blogs that are just for fun, like The Junk Drawer, are right up there too. Of course, nothing inspires discussion like celebrity obsession: FansofDavid.com, dedicated to American Idol runner-up David Archuleta, got an 8.

Where have you found the most engaged communities that are relevant to your business? If you share them in a comment here, I’ll be sure to comment back.

Tags : social media

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