Home How Social Sites Reveal What Your Audience Likes

How Social Sites Reveal What Your Audience Likes

Written by Alex Iskold and edited by Richard MacManus

Understanding your audience
is the key to success in any business – including blogging. Lately the Read/WriteWeb
authors have been discussing what it is that keeps readers coming back here. Our recent poll
indicated that most of you come back to this blog for Analysis and
Reviews. We are thrilled to hear this, because we focus a lot on those
two things.

But the poll results got us wondering about which posts in particular are the most
popular? And we’re not talking about simple page views – we want to know what content you
actually liked. In the web 1.0 world, understanding what people liked was a voodoo
science. Luckily, in these days of blogs and social software, there are fairly
definitive ways of measuring what people like. Comments on posts, del.icio.us bookmarks,
Technorati links and of course Diggs, are all entries into the fascinating world of
social popularity. So we decided to put our investigative hat on and do a deep dive on
Read/WriteWeb popular posts.

Read/WriteWeb comments

The obvious place to look for popular posts is in the Read/WriteWeb archives. We looked for the most
commented-on posts. Below are the posts that had at least 50 comments:

Note: We close off comments on posts after about a month, in order to prevent spam.

Not surprisingly, readers of Read/WriteWeb are most passionate about Search. This is a
topic close to the blog’s core focus – because of Google vs. Yahoo!, Google vs.
Microsoft, Google vs. the World and most importantly because this is where Web business
is centered nowadays. The other posts on the list also reflect this blog’s character.
Comprehensive product surveys, profiles of top applications in different countries, and predictive analysis are definitely topics we spend a lot of time on. The Netscape post
btw just outright hit a nerve!

Yet just like the poll, how many comments a post gets is just part of the picture. To
find out more about what people like about Read/WriteWeb, we need to analyze external
links to posts.

Read/WriteWeb on del.icio.us

del.icio.us has become a social phenomenon, but it is now turning into a gem of hidden
information. We have written before
about the possibility of using del.icio.us as a recommendation engine. Today, we will
look how to use it to distill the popular posts from your blog – and to understand how
people perceive those posts.

You would think this would be an easy thing to do, but unfortunately it is not –
because del.icio.us does not yet allow search by URL prefix. So you cannot just search
for posts that start with http://www.readwriteweb.com. Instead, we had to use a
trick. We searched for readwriteweb and then sifted through the posts to
determine the ones that belong to this blog. As it turns out, 34 posts from R/WW were
saved by at least 100 people (note: given that it was a manual process to get that data,
it’s possible we missed a couple). We saved these popular posts for you under a new rwwpopular account

Here are the top R/WW posts in del.icio.us, bookmarked by at least 500 people:

The pattern on del.icio.us is less obvious, but things become more clear once we
realize that del.icio.us and comments on a blog reflect different kinds of actions.
Comments reflect passions, bookmarks serve as references – so there is little overlap
between them. More importantly, comments (like posts) are short lived. Unfortunately in
our day and age, news and even analysis has a life span of a few hours. Once a post is
off the front page of a blog, it is less discoverable and typically is not commented on

The bookmarks of del.icio.us, however, have a longer lifespan. After the first person
bookmarks a post, it starts traveling through the del.icio.us network, acquiring more and
more links, and growing stronger. What popular bookmarks indicate is a combination of
time and usefulness. All of these posts are roughly 6 months old. It is likely that in
another 6 months a new batch of R/WW posts will cross the 500 threshold on del.icio.us.
This is just how references and networks evolve.

Read/WriteWeb on Digg

Of course no popularity contest would be complete these days without checking out
Digg. This social news site has become a huge source of endorsement and traffic for
bloggers. Many R/WW posts have made it to the digg front page, since Digg users have an
appreciation and passion for technology. So naturally, we went looking for what stories
were especially popular. 

Unlike with del.icio.us, it is really easy to find this information on Digg. Here is
, using advanced search. Here then are the R/WW posts with at least 1000 diggs
(which is a lot on digg):

We noted that the posts that did well on Digg are somewhat different from the ones
that got a lot of comments and picked up more links on del.icio.us. The full
results told us that while Digg users love posts about search, they also love
the posts about browsers. In particular the Firefox vs. IE battle is dear to their
hearts. And of course, digg users love posts about Digg – especially when it’s about Digg
kicking competitor Netscape’s butt!


Using social information to measure user information is an effective way for bloggers
to understand what their readers like. It is also possible to use the methods we’ve
outlined here to measure the popularity and effectiveness of pages on a corporate
web site. 

Another useful thing to do is to dive deeper into del.icio.us and digg tags and
comments. These pages contain a wealth of insightful information about how your
audience perceives your content.

While doing the research for this post, we compiled a list of over 50 of the most
popular posts on Read/WriteWeb. We are thinking about making this available to you as a
permanent tab. Please let us know what you think about this idea, as well as the
techniques that we’ve discussed.

Image credit: www.eyeassociates.com

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

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