Blog Influence, Engagement and “‘Deceptive’” Statistics

Posted On: July 7th, 2008 | Posted by: Dean

Charlie O’Donnell at Path101 responded to Fred Wilson‘s post earlier today on deceptive statistics by asking his readers to link, post, comment, Digg… whatever, all in an effort to measure the influence his blog really has, as well as the engagement of his readers. Though his perspective is that of a startup entrepreneur (rather than a genealogy enthusiast), the issues he raises seem highly relevant to Genealogy bloggers and their audiences.

I’ll offer an example. At the recent Summit at the SCGS Jamboree, Leland Meitzler brought up the power of RSS feeds for quickly retrieving the latest from our favorite blogs. Several panelists indicated they used RSS themselves, but few seemed to have a good feel for who their RSS subscribers were and just how engaged they really were. I forget who said it, but I recall the comment being made that it wasn’t feasible to serve ads to (and gain ad revenue from) RSS subscribers. I’m not an expert on the subject, but I’m pretty confident that the folks at Feedburner would beg to differ. My point is this: we could probably all stand to understand the significance of our readership stats a little better. [Randy Seaver's analyses of his site's stats stand out as an example of what we could be doing in this regard.]

Back to Charlie’s post — he asked a pointed question that I’d like to pass along to the readers of this blog:

“If the people reading aren’t doing anything, either passing your message on or responding, what’s the point of having readers?”

Personally, as a perennial ‘lurker’ on many blogs and message boards, I’m inclined to disagree. What do you think?

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