We interrupt our previously scheduled metaphor series to bring you this breaking news.
Sam Lawrence was positing on Twitter that Blogrolls should be automatic, similar to how many tag clouds are created, and show what you are actually reading. I replied with the notion that even a defined blog roll would benefit from more tag cloud features to show relevance to you based on visits, links, RSS subscriptions or other engagement.
Engagement. What a fantastic buzzword. It's delightfully squishy but often placed on the hard pedestal of metrics like Recency of Visit, bookmarks, and comments . These should be more accurately referred to as Ingagement. They are happening on your site and when the visitor leaves your site, their ingagement ends (and often so does measuring).
Outgagement on the other hand, looks at what people are saying about you off your site. But unless someone has dedicated their site to talking about your company, the 'who' behind the 'what' doesn't have as much impact. The metrics in outgagement are already established (informally) in how the social blogosphere works. Things like out-bound links in a post, number of posts on a topic, and groups within social networks.
The future of metrics for social media is not in building aggregate information about your customer base but collecting public information about your individual customers.
I've put it in bold to capture your attention with that line but I can't take credit for it. It's not a new concept. Social media people have been talking around this idea through the lens of 'relationships' for a while now. The trick is scale.
Enter lifestreaming. Now, I don't want to be crass but the value that individuals are getting out of following the streams of their friends at sites like FriendFeed, SocialThing, Profilatic, and others would be gold if companies could learn to harness it. It takes the hard work out of collecting the information, they just need a way to tap it (rather than capture it) and marry it with their Ingagement metrics. (Ok, I simplified that problem but that's the heart of it.)
Another tool that could automate the parsing of customer data is Many Eyes. Or at least the interesting applications that Sam has used it for (it was manual work, his re-post was another tweet that sparked this post). If you can find a customer's blog (during outgagement tracking) then the topics relevant to them can quickly be determined. Now, this is far from perfect because you won't know tone. But, it gives you a place to start and increases the context.
And now to tie it all back together to the question of scale. Once you have your customer records created, you can build your target segments from the ground up. Of course, the application of old-style segmentation will still have it's purposes but consider the two scenarios:
- 18-24 year olds who recently purchased a product from your company
- 18-24 year olds who are passionate about something (and your product relates)
del.icio.us tag: ingagement+outgagement
Image Attribution: Scott Fidd via Flickr