The communications staff at Missouri University of Science and Technology (that’s where I work) recently created a del.icio.us account to keep track of our online news stories and blog posts. (We use Google Alerts and Technorati to find the stories in the first place, then we select the ones we think are the most important or most closely tied to our key messages to post on del.icio.us.)
Using del.icio.us makes it easier for us to keep track of media coverage, but we’ve also discovered a side benefit: del.icio.us gives us yet another tool for measuring and analyzing our media relations activities in the sphere of online social media.
del.icio.us shows you which stories are saved by others, which is an indication of popularity. If no one else is saving your stories, then there’s a pretty good chance that either:
- the online world finds your stuff borng, or
- the stories aren’t getting to the right websites
A quick case study: Last week, when the earthquake hit the Midwest, we touted one of our quake experts (J. David Rogers, the Hasselmann Chair of Geological Engineering) to the media. He spoke to 15 different media outlets that Friday, most of them from the Midwest but including our state’s two largest daily newspapers and a couple of TV and news radio stations. But none of the stories were saved by other del.icio.us users except for a LiveScience.com story that quoted Rogers and appeared on Yahoo! News. Now we know that 10 other del.icio.us users also saved that story. We also can find out who those users are and what else they’re interested in.
Another recent news release — about some research on biodegradable plastics bags — got picked up by Popular Science magazine’s blog PopSci.com, and that also was saved by 10 other users. (Another popular sci/tech blog, Gizmodo, picked up the story, and although no other del.icio.us users have saved it, a quick look at the comments shows a high level of interest among Gizmodo readers.
So, the takeaways here, I guess, are:
- del.icio.us is a great, simple tool for posting and tracking your institution’s online news and blog mentions
- del.icio.us gives you an opportunity to see who else is interested in the story, which could possibly lead to new connections and conversations with alumni, researchers, other academics
- del.icio.us may give you insight into which online sites are most popular for niche readerships, which in turn may help you adjust your media relations efforts