In the last couple of years altmetrics (the creation and study of new metrics based on social media for analyzing and informing scholarship) have popped up across the web.
We have a plethora of numbers, but what should we be measuring? A recent blog post by Xavier Lasauca i Cisa (via Brian Kelly) suggests the following Key Performance Indicators:
The reality is that this is too complex for those of us with lives and jobs. We need services / dashboards to provide and digest this information. Lots of start-ups will provide this service at considerable cost (Social Mention, ChartBeat and Plum Analytics are just a few that spring to mind). In reality, for reasons of time and cost, most individuals have to settle for simpler options:
It astounds me that Klout continues to attract so much attention when it has been so thoroughly discredited - Gink is a more useful tool in my opinion ;-)
The best of this bunch is probably Kred, which at least has a transparent public algorithm. In reality, the only tool in this class I use is CrowdBooster, which has a number of useful functions:
I have found this analysis to be useful, but in terms of predicting what content will be popular and what won't - i.e. the mysterious going viral - good luck with that. There's a large dose of chaos involved and although you may be able to convince investors you know the Secrets of the Interwebz, the reality is there will always be more misses than hits (because that's what the maths says).
The elephant in the room
Take a look at your blog or server stats. Much of your traffic comes from what Google calls "organic", i.e. search. If you've been a busy bee on the self-promotion front, you'll also have a goodly slice of referral traffic from all those social networks you've invested so much time in.
Where is all that direct traffic coming from? Welcome to the murky world of Dark Social (private channels such as email and IM), and the reason why measuring Impact is even harder than you think. So even before Facebook broke the newsfeed with EdgeRank, you didn't really know what was going on.
In the #solo12impact workshop at SpotOn London 2012 we will discuss all this and much more. In the meantime:
- J. Priem, D. Taraborelli, P. Groth, C. Neylon (2010), Altmetrics: A manifesto
- Jason Priem, Heather A. Piwowar, Bradley M. Hemminger. (2012) Altmetrics in the wild: Using social media to explore scholarly impact. arXiv:1203.4745
- The Atlantic: Dark Social: We Have the Whole History of the Web Wrong
- GigaOm: Dark social: Why measuring user engagement is even harder than you think