FTW Media

Thoughts about New/Social Media

User interaction the hot new metric

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Typically, a news site’s metrics are unique visitors and page views. Certainly that’s how we do it at The Edge.

BusinessWeek, however, breaks away from tradition and instead focuses on user interaction.

Money graph from BusinessWeek‘s John Byrne:

It’s important because we value, and so measure and gauge, all our interactions with our readers on BusinessWeek.com — including commenting on a story or blog post. The next level is how our writers and editors engage our readers in a conversation, and also welcoming our readers to write longer pieces for us, or to report (at least once a week) a reader-suggested story. We’re also engaging with BW readers on other sites, such our Ning network that served as a forum to generate and debate stimulus spending priorities for the Obama administration, or interactions involving our 50+ staffers on Twitter. If we don’t listen to our readers and interact with them, and then act on the feedback and suggestions they’re giving us, we’re dead in the water. That applies to any media brand today, not just BusinessWeek. We’re just making it more of a priority, including featuring readers on an equal plane with our writers — on our home page, for example, our featured reader is given more prominence than even a Jack & Suzy Welch.

Erik Ulken, former editor for interactive technology at the Los Angeles Times, lists down some useful new metrics:

  • Internal metrics: Statistics about engagement that takes place on your site
    • Comments posted: Shows how much users are inclined to react to a topic, or supply insights of their own.
    • Return commenters: In other words, how many people comment multiple times on the same item? This is a measure of conversation around a topic. (Kudos to the Guardian’s Kevin Anderson for this idea.)
    • Times e-mailed: Reveals how often users are sharing this information with friends. This metric probably skews toward neophyte users, as more experienced users are presumably less likely to use an “e-mail this” feature.
    • Average time spent on page: Shows how thoroughly users are consuming the content, perhaps? Lots of asterisks, though, as John points out.
  • External metrics: Statistics about how people share and discuss your content elsewhere
    • Tweets/retweets: Measures how “viral” this content is in a social network. There’s also geographic information embedded in these tweets that could tell you where a topic resonates particularly strongly.
    • Diggs: Another measure of the viral nature of a topic. Given Digg’s audience, this metric might favor content that appeals to a techie crowd.
    • Delicious saves: Shows how many users stored this page with an eye toward returning to it. This metric could be particularly useful for ongoing features that you want to build a regular user base for.
    • Inbound links from blogs: Quantifies the discussion taking place in the blogosphere. This could help you identify the blogs that are most attuned to the content you produce — as opposed to just the ones that send you the most visitors (which are not necessarily the most engaged users).
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Written by Oon Yeoh

April 18, 2009 at 5:27 pm

Posted in New Media

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