April 3, 2011

Measuring Engagement

With social media growing in popularity with the government and corporate types, its been too easy to measure the "effectiveness" of their campaigns based on the number of likes or comments on their page. But for anyone who has ever read the comments on anything on the Internet, that's probably not the best idea.

And as Prof. Hayden has pointed out, "engagement" is a squishy kind of word, a "smurf word," that can be made to mean whatever you want. And its certainly even harder quantify, or even qualify, in a report.

This MIT researcher wired his house with cameras in every room, and then made grad researchers sift through all the data they gathered over years of recording. The object? To see how and when his son learned language over time. Pretty cool.

But they also took the same idea and applied it to mass media, television shows and news, and juxtaposed, on a time axis, with what was being said online, through Twitter et al. They saw direct feedback on opinions, on what got people talking, and how long they kept talking about it.

You don't need their fancy MIT software to that, either, just some Internet-combing skills and too much time on your hands. But to see the data they pulled out in aggregate and over time, and graphed or visualized, is awesome.

Man, I love TED talks.


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