Measuring Community Activity on a Blog

I’ve been thinking about how to measure community activity on our blogs.  This would be useful so that we can judge our effectiveness over time at enabling conversation and participation among the communities we are trying to serve.

People interact with our blogs at varying depths.  It would be interesting to measure statistics at each level.  First, people simply navigate to a single blog posts, then they might browse other blog posts, then they might “like” a comment or leave a comment, or several comments, and finally they may share the blog post on a social network via one of our sharing widgets.

Looking at the statistics for each of these levels would show us how shallow or deep typical blog visitors go in interacting with the blog.

For example, on GothamSchools in Feb 2011 we can gather these statistics:

127533 visits to the blog
77795 visits viewed more than one page
1449 comments were left by
390 commenters
117 shares to social networks using the sharethis widget

You can see how activity dropped off at deeper levels of participation.

We can plot these statistics over time.  For example, here are the monthly comments made on Streetsblog NYC over the last year:

Quantity isn’t the only thing that is important here.  The quality of the comments can be observed by measuring the average length of a comment, for example.

I think I’ll leave it at that for now.  This is a teaser to show what kind of information we can mine from Google Analytics, our WordPress databases, and other sources like the sharethis widget reports.

I think the next step would be to come up with specific questions we want answers to, like, “What was the effect on community participation when switching our commenting system on GothamSchools to disqus in Feb of 2011?”

To be continued…

One Response to “Measuring Community Activity on a Blog”

  1. Elizabeth Green Says:

    In looking at the Disqus intervention, one interesting variable I think is comments:numer of commenters.