In 1971, the American scholar Herbert Simon wrote that “a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” Not surprisingly in the age of information overload, we have become dependent on circles of friends, family and colleagues to help us decide what’s worth reading and watching. The Facebook status updates, tweets and blog posts of people whose opinions we trust to determine which content warrants our precious time, and this “social news filtering,” has huge implications for communications professionals. As these content-filtering clans strengthen and grow more intimate, landing a mention for your client on a popular news site or blog may no longer serve as the definition of success for public relations professionals on the Web. Increasingly, savvy clients and bosses are asking that you prove not just that people saw the mention, but that they recommended it to others.
Educational psychologists talk about six levels of thought that are known collectively as Bloom’s Taxonomy: Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis and Evaluation. For public relations professionals, utilizing social media requires all of those skills. Monitoring blogs and social networks for mentions of our brands, and responding when appropriate, is a new challenge for the public relations community. It requires new tools and an attention to the unique cultures of social destinations online. But all of that falls in the categories of Knowledge, Comprehension, Application and Analysis that have always been integral to public relations.
What many people find most intimidating about using social media for professional communications is the idea of creating content: blog posts, videos, podcasts, widgets, microsites and more. That’s Synthesis, and while it may seem scary, it presents enormous opportunities for us to bring our messages directly to clients and consumers.
Wave Radar: Is that blog post about your company’s new product causing a big splash or a tiny ripple?
So you discover that a blog has made mention of your product or service. Will anyone see it? How can you know? A blog’s visibility can be measured in a great many ways beyond traditional Web metrics such as Unique Visitors per Month. Checking out whether the post has been linked, tagged or cited on a social network or bookmarking utility is a great way to start.
There are even more elemental methods: a general idea of how frequently a blog posts can give you an indication of the breadth of its audience. While it’s always possible that a prolific blogger is just shouting into the void, our analysis of the top 200 blogs by number of unique visitors shows that even in this upper echelon of bloggers, those posting at least three times a day have two and a half times as many visitors as those posting less frequently.
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