Simply counting the volume of conversations and comments and the number of trackbacks is one indication of the size and scope of the network surrounding your blog. Whether or not those comments are in agreement or disagreement requires content analysis, but presumably positive or neutral comments would be indicative of a healthy relationship between the blogger and his/her audience.
Examining the credibility and authority of the people who are commenting and/or linking to the site is another way to assess the impact and importance of the blog.
One needs to look beyond just quantity of postings or links to the quality of the dialog. I like the way Dennis G. Jerz of Seton Hill University categorizes blogs in his classroom and have adapted his categories below:
“Coverage” — The number of times your brand or issue is mentioned.
“Depth” — How deeply does the posting discuss the brand? Is it just a passing mention or does the blogger go into the subject in depth with numerous links?
“Interaction” — What was the nature of the interaction? Was the posting designed to solve a problem, compare different brands, or simply allow the author to rant?
“Discussion” — What was the nature of the discussion? Was it a true dialog with extensive exchange of ideas, or was it just bantering back and forth.
Jerz further classifies comments as:
Comment Primo — a comment that launches a discussion on someone else’s blog
Comment Grande — a long comment posted on a peer blog, which is then advertised via a cross-blog posting
Comment Informative — in which a commenter uses his or her particular knowledge in order to flesh out a general or incomplete statement made in a peer’s blog entry
Link Gracious — a link that draws attention to the source of an idea or to a good conversation happening on someone else’s blog
Consider also adding Tonality, an indicator of the health of the relationship between the blog community and the brand. If the tone of the posting leaves a reader less likely to do business with your organization it is negative. If the posting leaves a reader more likely to do business with your organization, or recommends the brand, it is positive. If it essentially just discusses facts it is neutral or balanced. —Katie Delahaye Paine and Andy Lark —How To Measure Blogs, Part One… and what to do with the data (The Measurement Standard (via Cymfony))
Apparently the folks at Cymfony were so excited that they appeared in this (subscription-only) article that they pasted the whole thing on their website. I’ve added extra line breaks for legibility. The link goes to Cymfony’s copy, but it originally appeared on The Measurement Standard. I note that authors removed “xenoblogging” and “wildcard” from the categories I proposed, and their interpretation of “interaction” is very different from what I intended. Still, it’s a good article, one to which I’ll return fairly soon, since this summer I’ll be helping two different university administrative units launch PR blogs.
Odd that the article is written in the first person, but is credited to two authors.