You've read much about blogging and the blogosphere and you are beginning to become a believer in the power of the crowd in helping you get your message across. You've convinced your boss that you should spend a certain amount of your day blogging, researching the blogosphere and engaging those who would promote your services far and wide for no other reason than having an affinity for what good work you do. Great. But at the end of the day, you have no idea how to measure the impact getting your message out on the blogosphere has on your business. The one very important question remains:
What impact does the blogosphere have on my brand?
Like so many facts in marketing, charting the chatter surrounding your brand is more an art than a science. I'm not happy to report that it may indeed be impossible in most cases to see exactly how much revenues are affected by what bloggers are saying about you. There's no way that I know of to get the fiscal impact of word-of-mouth advertising, as it were, on your sales. That said, it is possible to hold a ruler up to the blogosphere and calculate just how much chatter is being generated around your brand.
As a software engineer turned analyst turned dot-com entrepreneur I have gravitated toward "hacking" together my own method for charting chatter about my own site. Though there are services like Nielsen BuzzMetrics, which have their all-in-one approach to chatter charting, I'll outline the more labor-intensive, pedagogical, poor-man's version here instead.
The playersIn the world of chatter there are a few tools that, used together, will give you all the information you need in order to report on the buzz-worthiness of your products, services, and campaigns. They are:
The goalUsing the above tools, we're going to figure out on a weekly basis just how your brand is attracting attention online. These are quantitative tools. The metrics we'll skim from them will not tell you what the blogosphere thinks and says about your brand. However, on a daily basis, take informal, qualitative surveys using bloglines and technorati searches. I like to spend about an hour a day visiting the blogs that mention us and responding to their comments by leaving comments of my own. Blog owners love to get feedback. Whether the review is positive or negative, giving feedback immediately is key. Bloggers want to be heard. Feedback is food.
On a weekly basis, however, you'll want to create a simple spreadsheet of fields that help you chart your site's buzz over time. Here what I recommend:
The methodEach week -- say, Monday morning -- we're going to go to each of those sources and manually input their totals into our spreadsheet. While these are not key performance indicators in the strictest sense, they are a subset that narrows the focus on key chatter metrics. You'll include these in your additional KPI reports on revenues, sales, search, conversions, reach, mindshare, etc. Over time you'll be able to see what effect internet buzz is having on your brand. No site, like no brand, is the same. So start tracking your chatter now so that you can be the judge on what's good buzz and what's not.
Kelly Abbott is CEO of Dandelife.com. Read full bio.
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