Guest Post- Measuring Shared Engagement

Mukund Mohan from BuzzGain has been really thinking deeply about measurement and how it applies to social media.

How to measure “shared” engagement with your social media effort

Measuring to improve is a very important part of getting better. Since many metrics and modalities exist its important to classify engagement and put specific measures in place to track and monitor them. This post will give you one set of measures to answer the question “How do we measure the value when someone “Digg”’s a post or they share your blog post on “delicious”? Or how many extended users does someone who participates on these networks actually influence?

Share this provides 46 different properties for your user to share their content with others. This includes 10 blogs platforms, social networks, 36 social sharing sites, and many email applications. Using BuzzGain we tracked the “engagement” of 7 different social media properties (Flickr, Twitter, YouTube, Delicious, StumbleUpon, FriendFeed and Digg) for 2 months (July and August 2008) to quantify 2 simple metrics. How many users actually exist and how many of them are engaged?

Percentage of engaged users on various Web 2.0 / Social Media properties: (Red is the “engaged” users, Blue – registered users)

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In most of these properties we classified a user that has commented / shared / Dugg / “liked” on these as an engaged user. The graph shows that the least engaged was at 1.75% (YouTube) of their user base to the most engaged, nearly 20% (Twitter) of their user base (which is consistent with other studies). We did not count users who “viewed” a video as engaged users. Only those that commented on a story or voted a video up / down. One could argue that YouTube viewers are engaged and the numbers would be skewed differently then.

YouTube, Delicious and Flickr have the most users from 40+ Million to 5.7 Million. The highest engagement platforms were Friendfeed and Twitter. Not really surprising if you are users of those two solutions.

What we found and how can you use this?

  1. Pick any influencer on any network mentioned above. Find the number of users they have (e.g. Jeremiah Owyang has 12644 “followers on Twitter” or Chris Brogan has 282 followers on delicious). The rule of thumb is to then apply the engagement metric for that social property to get the “effective influenced users”. So by that measure, Jeremiah’s effective “engaged” users on Twitter is 2402 and Chris’s effective “engaged” users on Delicious is 22.
  2. Users are most engaged on Twitter and Friendfeed (% of users willing and able to retweet or “Like a post” or comment on a post)
  3. If you are looking for a combination of large numbers & time spent(or effort) then delicious is the best solution by a YouTube video.

Caution: This makes the assumption that many people that “follow” someone on twitter or “follow” on delicious are actual users, not “facebook friends” or “bots”. This is purely a rough guide and I would caution you against using these as definitive numbers until we do a second level revision, but it at least gives you a starting point for discussion. This also does not actually tell you about audience size (how many people actually came to your website because your post got Dugg or Tweeted, which we will discuss next time.

A second level revision of this analysis will include different types of engagement in detail – primary vs. secondary (e.g. Favorite a tweet vs. Retweet, etc) and also take into account “time” as a critical measure of propagation. That means when a user is on twitter, how many other users are on twitter at the same time so the relevance of sharing (being mostly time bound) is factored.

P.S. We did track blogs (WordPress, Blogger, Typepad), Wikipedia and Social Networks (Myspace and Orkut only, since Facebook is relatively closed) but are still trying to discern the engagement metrics.

P.P.S. If you liked this post, please digg it, cos’ Chris would then let us come back and guest post again.

Mukund Mohan is hard at work measuring and thinking at BuzzGain.

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