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Are Likes and retweets more useful for PR measurement than traditional Web analytics?

Have you ever posted a Facebook update or tweet that you thought was sure to attract a bunch of Likes or retweets, only to watch it fall flat? You just thought that cat video was the funniest thing ever and yet, silence.

But that doesn’t mean no one saw it and smiled. Maybe someone brought it up in a conversation with you (the face-to-face kind) a few days later.

The relationship between eyeballs and online sharing activity is poorly understood, yet crucial to determining which blogs and news sites are influential on a particular topic. We recently measured about 2 million posts from the tens of thousands of the blogs and sites listed in Cision’s media database to derive some insights on this topic.

Not surprisingly, the majority of “sharing actions”, such as retweets, Facebook Likes and social bookmarks on sites like Delicious and Reddit, occur on the top 10 percent of sites as measured by total sharing activity. This group includes sites like the BBC.co.uk and CNN.com. (All of these data are available on a per-outlet basis within CisionPoint.) In fact, the top 10 percent of sites attracted 83 percent of sharing activity overall.

But here’s what’s interesting: if you compare the share of engagement actions generated by the lower 90 percent to their share of Unique Visitors per Month, a more traditional metric, the engagement data is actually more flattering: the top 10 percent of sites by this metric attract 99 percent of visitors.

 

Media properties by Unique Visitors per Month    

Source: Cision data

       

Media properties by Sharing Activity

Source: Cision data

 

How are these data useful to you as a public relations professional or marketer? It’s clear that blogs and sites covering niche topics get people who are passionate about those topics tweeting and sharing their content to a disproportionate degree, and that makes measures of engagement especially useful for measurement, both when planning a campaign and gauging its impact. This makes sense since viewers of the upper echelon sites are more likely to be casual readers.

Also, engagement metrics are more useful than traditional Web metrics for finding the leaders of the pack in a group of sites that cover a narrow topic area. Because such sites clamor for a comparatively small share of eyeballs, sharing activity serves as a better point-in-time view of which outlets matter, though it can be helpful to track any of these metrics over time to see whose influence is waxing and waning.

How do you use sharing metrics as part of your measurement strategy?

 

 

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