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Social metrics: which ones matter?

A new effort to define online influence in terms of sharing is taking root

In the early days of the Web, public relations professionals and marketers savvy enough to measure the impact of their efforts online had to rely on Page Views. Then, as concern grew that this metric didn’t accurately gauge the breadth of a site’s reach, Unique Visitors became the standard. While it remains a reliable indicator, one of the aspects of the social media revolution that I find most fascinating is the wealth of new opportunities for measuring influence it has created. What’s more, these metrics measure not passive media consumption as Page Views and Unique Visitors do, but the sharing of content by bloggers, social networkers and other online influencers.

Inbound links, blog comments, citations on social bookmarking sites, the list of social metrics goes on. Yet, there’s still no consensus amongst communications professionals about which of these metrics matter most and how they can guide campaign strategies. A new group of PR and marketing professionals is working to change that. Led by Philip Sheldrake, director of Racepoint Group UK and blogger for marcomprofessional.com, is assembling a group of industry leaders working on a project called Influence Scorecard 2009. The idea is to arrange a meeting where “the measurement of influence for organisational performance management in the 21st Century” can be defined, Philip says.

Philip is the author of last year’s Social Web Analytics e-book, a valuable resource that reviews the players in the social media measurement and analysis space. Cision is one of a number of companies covered. The book describes our eNews Monitoring service, and we’ve since partnered with Radian6 to offer the Cision Social Media Dashboard, which offers seven types of social metrics by which to gauge influence on the social Web. We’re excited about taking part in Philip’s efforts to further explore how the sharing of content online is redefining the nature of PR and marketing.

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