The Pew Internet & American Life Project published the results of a study conducted between July 2005 and February 2006 that compiled data on blogging demographics, motivations and practices. One of the interesting findings of the study were the reasons given for blogging by those surveyed:
- Express themselves creatively (77%)
- Share experiences with others (76%)
- Motivate people to action (61%)
- Share practical knowledge or skills with others (59%)
- Influence the way people think (51%)
Clearly, these individuals want to have an impact and see blogging as a tool to achieve that goal. This could also help explain why a number of bloggers choose to turn their blogs into books. But if you blog, how do you quantify your impact? Fortunately the blogosphere is chock full of great tools that provide an almost overwhelming amount of data. Here are some thoughts about the (quantitative) basis of impact.
I start by breaking impact down into 3 components:
The table at the end of this posts lists metrics that pertain to each of these components. Despite the title of this post, I do not mean to imply there is a direct mathematical relationship between these measurements. Only that the components probably interact in a non-linear manner.)
It is my belief that measurement forms the cornerstone of insight. I would welcome other opinions about metrics that could be useful in determining a blogger’s impact.
Impact starts with content – hopefully, content worth reading. Content attracts readers and is part of the raw fuel used by search engine crawlers and page ranking algorithms to determine where your blog entries appear in search results. One content measure that I find especially useful is “book equivalent.” Take the total number of words on your blog (words in posts + words in comments) and divide it by the number of words in a book of say 220 pages. (I use 75,000 words – although the wordcount will vary depending on the book format and font used.) This tells you how many books worth of raw content you have in your blog. The amount of content you create will depend on your posting frequency and your average post length.
Consumption metrics are the familiar bedrock of web analytics. These include page views, uniques visitors and unique feed subscribers. The last two make up your unique blog readership. Togethr they indicate how much of your content is being read and by how many people. (They also form the necessary condition for a good blog valuation.)
Engagement metrics tell you whether you have gotten people’s attention. Are they actually spending time on your blog? Did they download that article or podcast you posted? Are they pointing others to your blog through social bookmarking sites?
Impact is the result of your efforts. It comes back to that need to share with, motivate, inspire or influence others. Any measure of impact is bound to be a bit squishy. But I think link citations (or its proxy, authority) and a positive trend in readership over time are your best indications that your postings are making a difference.