Engagement metrics are difficult to establish, primarily because in the social media space, they are totally bespoke – that is, they must be tailored to each individual project and audience. Here’s a quickie case study:

1. Blog A has been around for two months. It’s gone from zero links on Technorati to about 125 – an increase of between 10 and 15 links per week, which is well above the 8-10 we benchmarked starting out on the project.

Feedburner shows that there are 32 subscribers to Blog A via RSS, and it was the centre of discussion around a hot topic that garnered between 40 and 75 comments per post for three days straight last month.

2. Blog B has been around for just over a month, and has remained stagnant at eight links from two blogs – and they’re not even within the niche audience they were targetting.

Feedburner shows that there are just nine subscribers to Blog B via RSS and its top comment count was 24; the rest of the posts average 3 or 4.

It’s clear, then, based on these numbers, that Blog A is a roaring engagement success, whereas Blog B is not thriving at all, right? Wrong. During a six-day period last month, Blog A had 350 visitors, while Blog B had over 1800. Blog B also has over 120 subscribers via email. Blog B got their top comment count (24) on the first post.

So, what’s the difference?

Blog A exists in a somewhat small, but highly active niche – it is doing very well (exceeding all benchmarks we established) and enjoying major engagement with its audience (witness the 75 comment post).

Blog B has joined a larger but also highly active community of interest that lives on forums – engagement with this blog consists mostly of links from the forums (not measured by Technorati) and the occasional comment. However, by using a number of diffrent tools, we know the numbers are climbing daily and that additional content, i.e. videos posted to YouTube, boosts engagement even further as the links spread across the “forumosphere”.

My point? That engagement metrics must be taken in context. To establish meaningful measurements, you need to spend a good chunk of time getting to know the community of interest you’re thinking about joining and establish benchmarks based on niche standards, not purely comment counts or unique visits.

In other words, to get a suit that really fits you, you need to let the tailor spend a decent amount of time measuring you first.

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