Tag Archives: engagement

Blog Metrics: Measure the Conversation

measuring-tapeWhat is the best measurement for a successful blog? Is it number of unique visitors, returning visitors, page views, incoming links, or Technorati ranking? Do any one of these typical measurement tools by themselves tells us what we need to know: who is engaged? Non-profit organizations want to engage stakeholders through social media and ideally move them to act on their behalf. We know that, without engagement, people are not moved to act.

Blogs are a particularly challenging platform for creating engagement. It’s easy to passively read a blog. How do you know if you’ve engaged?

Three metrics for measuring “blog conversation” are: number of unique engaged readers, average number of engaged readers per blog post, and number of posts that engaged readers in blog conversations.

1. What is an unique “engaged reader” and how should we count them? A blog reader that has commented at least once on your blog is engaged. When you count your “unique engaged readers” on your blog,  you can measure of the breadth of your engaged base. What does that mean for your organization?

  • The engaged reader cares enough about the topic to participate. This defines the commenter as  a “critic” in the Forrester Social Technographics paradigm.  He/she also cares enough about your organization to participate and add to the blog post.  *This is a potential volunteer, donor, activist or ally.*
  • The number of engaged readers adds weight to your organization’s credibility. You can call upon these readers to mobilize for a cause, or utilize this statistic for fundraising purposes.

2. Why measure “average number of engaged readers per post?” This tells you, in general, if your blog posts are engaging your stakeholders. Avinash Kaushik developed what he calls the “conversation rate” in his thoughtful piece on blog measurement statistics here. (Beth Kanter built upon Kaushik’s four blog metrics and wrote about this paradigm using her own blog measurements here.)

It is simply # reader comments that are not the author’s/ # posts. Discount pingbacks if they appear in the comments section. For example, I have a total of 23 comments that are not mine, divided by 25 posts.  This is an average engaged reader of less than one per post. Not a great statistic, but I’m just getting started.  My goal is three by the end of June, and I’ll let you know if I make it.

Why should non-profits care about this statistic?

  • It gives you a sense of whether or not you are engaging your stakeholders enough for them to put down what they are doing and comment.
  • It tells you whether or not your posts are generating interest in a conversation, which is really your goal. By involving your stakeholders, they are also contributing actively to the success of your organization.
  • *The higher this statistic, the more likely that you will be able to mobilize your readers to donate or act on your group’s behalf.*

3. Number of blog posts that engaged readers in “blog conversations.” Not every post will engage readers. It is a good idea to step back every quarter and look at the number of posts that engendered real conversations — where a back and forth discussion occurred between your organization and its readers.  How can we measure this?  I suggest initial segmentation by: total # of posts/ total # posts with more than one comment.  You can further segment by: total # of posts/ total # posts with more than X number of comments.

Why should you care about engaging in blog conversations?

  • Your goal should be a conversation that moves the post to another level and gives the commenter a real sense of contributing to the organization’s thinking and success. More than one comment per post leads to real conversations.
  • *Programming starts with conversation.* If you are considering new programs, evaluating old ones or looking for any type of organizational feedback, you need to know that you people will give it to you. The higher number that this statistic is, the better feedback you will get on any conversation you want to initiate. You have created engaged blog stakeholders who are eager and interested in commenting and conversing with you.

To sum up: Use these metrics to understand the depth and breadth of the stakeholders visiting your blog. Utilize this information to raise funds, mobilize.  mine your stakeholders for valuable feedback and ideas, and understand their needs.

I’ve tried to come up with some easy-to-use metrics for a non-profit to measure blog conversations and engagement.However, I’m not a professional statistician or analyst.  If you have other additions or suggestions, please feel free to tell me and I’ll add them!

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The Virtual Kitchen

photo courtesy of fooferkitten, Flickr

photo courtesy of fooferkitten, Flickr

The kitchen is the social hub of the home, and the epicenter of important family decisions. When I was a community organizer, I would knock on doors and ask people if they had a minute to talk. I knew I caught their interest when they invited me into their kitchen. If they offered me something to drink, I was even happier, because that meant that they had time for a real discussion. My goals, in order, were to get invited in, get into the kitchen, get a cup of coffee, get them to engage meaningfully, get them to join the organization. Once I was in the kitchen, usually everything else followed.

The questions I’ve been asking myself lately is:

Where is the virtual kitchen? Where do online stakeholders hang out socially?

Time, I believe, is the key metric to use when seeking the “kitchen.”  Social networks, I believe are the kitchens: they are the social hub of the internet, and  where people get information they trust to make important decisions. Therefore, I think of the metric thus: time spent on social networks overlaid with demographic information about each network.

The chart below, compiled by Hitwise, offers fairly recent information on US trend. A good comparison to this would be the slide show offered here, using ComScore statistics, that analyzes time spent on the top ten social networks from July 2006 to July 2007.

Average U.S. Time Spent for August 2008 (in minutes & seconds)


Name Domain



YoY % Change


MySpace http://www.myspace.com





Facebook http://www.facebook.com





MyYearbook http://www.myyearbook.com





Tagged http://www.tagged.com





Bebo http://www.bebo.com




Source: Hitwise

If I were developing a communications strategy, I would cross-reference my target populations’ demographics with analysis of time spent on social networking sites.

For example, if my organization were running a youth group, we would be interested in MySpace, YouTube, PhotoBucket, and Facebook. However, if we were interested in asking Baby Boomers to advocate for legislation, then we would most likely connect with them through a friend-finding site like Classmates.com or a professional network like LinkedIn. This chart compiled by Rapleaf is a great resource for identifying the age and gender of social network users.

When you want to find your stakeholders, and really engage, you want to be in their kitchen, the virtual portal where they spend the most time. You want to be in the place where they are spending their time socially online, sipping their cups of coffee. Hopefully, this post helps your organization find your stakeholders’ kitchens. Enjoy the coffee!

Enjoy the Coffee! (photo by Jones G Gallery)

Enjoy the Coffee! (photo by Jones G Gallery)

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Dynamic Communication: From Questions to Respect

If you are not already engaging in meaningful, regular two-way communication now, before you institute web 2.0 tools, then your stakeholders probably won’t be quick to use your web 2.0 applications. Why?

I remember the building that I tried to organize into a tenant union that just wouldn’t organize.  Only one or two tenants would ever show up for organizing meetings, and even then, they defended the lousy landlord to me saying that he “would never sell us out.” (But oh, how he did!)

Why didn’t they care? Why didn’t they even want to listen? Because my organization, the “outside agitator” showed up in without any prior relationship and asked for a relationship. Why should they trust us? Had we seeded the ground for this organizing drive with informal conversations with leaders, hosted “house parties” to start the conversation about the landlord, or shown respect for their opinions and incorporated those into our organizing drive? No. Absolutely not. I went in, as the organizer, and told them that the landlord was planning to take advantage of a legal loophole to raise their stabilized rents and threaten their stability.  I made all the wrong moves, and it was no wonder that the tenants roundly refused to listen to me or even give me the time of day.

It’s not, as repeated in the movie Field of Dreams, “if you build it, they will come.” Rather, “if you engage already, then they will come (online).”

What do I mean?

You must be currently engaged with your stakeholders before implementing any web 2.o engagement strategy, or your social media strategy will fall short of expectations. Your stakeholders will only participate if they feel listened to, respected, and considered important. And they will feel this way if you create (or have) a communication strategy that currently fosters these feelings. If you’re not sure, here’s a communication checklist:

Questions to Ask Before You Implement Social Media

Questions to Ask Before You Implement Social Media

Thinking about it another way, how do you engage dynamically with your stakeholders and incorporate their ideas into your organizational development. If you don’t, create a chart (or list) of the ways in which you can begin to move your stakeholders from passive supporters to eager enthusiasts that can become your online Joiners, Critics, Collectors or Spectators. Once you implement a social media strategy, you want your stakeholders to participate, “evangelize” about your organization, and fully engage with your organization and others about your organization online. Remember my last post that profiles who is online?  The way you can motivate your stakeholders to become part of the small percentage of Joiners Collectors, Critics and Spectators is by creating a real relationship with them prior to implementing your social media strategy. When you do implement it, you’ll offer them a natural transition and outlet for continuing your conversations with web 2.0 applications.

Here’s a sample chart I’ve created to  jump start your efforts developing a dynamic communication strategy:

Beginning the Conversation with Your Stakeholders

Beginning the Conversation with Your Stakeholders

Don’t expect them to show up at the organizing meeting when they haven’t been asked what they think. Take the time to build a real, two-way communication strategy before you begin to use web 2.0 applications. Once you’ve created that communication in your offline or web 1.0 world, then you can easily continue the conversation online, in your organization’s web 2.0 world.

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