Monday, November 05, 2007

Blog numbers

One of the first questions I get when talking to people about using a blog for professional reasons is, "How can I measure it?" Usually, they are familiar with numbers like the number of newsletters mailed or the circulation of a newspaper. With blogs, this can be more difficult - but not impossible.

Anne Adrian and I talked last week about this topic I guess it spawned a blog post for each of us. Her article on measuring your blog has some excellent tips for bloggers and recommends using the tools discussed below. She's a faster (and better) blogger than me.

By using a combination of FeedBurner and Google Analytics, there are ways to count the number of people who subscribe to your feed or look at your pages.

Let's start with Google Analytics.

Go to: and create an account if you don't already have one.

  1. Click on "Add a domain".
  2. Enter the URL of your blog.
  3. Copy the code snippet and paste into the body portion of your blog template (before the "/body" tag at the end of the HTML code).
    • If you are using Blogger, add an HTML/JavaScript element to the footer of your page template.
  4. Check back to view the traffic reports for your blog.
This will count the people visiting your blog. It does not count the people who subscribe to your feed using a feed reader or get it via email. To collect that data, you need a tool like FeedBurner.

Configuring FeedBurner to collect data.

First, you'll need to create a FeedBurner account and add your blog.
  1. Go to:
  2. Create your account.
  3. Add your blog in the "Burn a feed this instant" box.
  4. When editing the feed details, enter a url for your "Feed Address" (avoid spaces). This is what you'll need later.
  5. Save the Feed Details.
Finally, change change your blog's RSS server to use FeedBurner.
FeedBurner has step-by-step instructions for the following blog services:
If you are using other blogging software and have figured out how to use FeedBurner's RSS redirection, please let me know.

FeedBurner also gives you a way for people to receive your posts via email. (Under the Publicize tab, click on "Email Subscriptions").

Looking at the data

After you've configured your blog with these tools, you'll want to periodically view the reports. Use these numbers with caution. They show trends and not absolute numbers of people reading your content. I subscribe to lots of feeds that I never get around to reading and I visit lots of pages only to realize that it isn't what I wanted and leave.

But, if you need to report a number to your boss, these tools will give you some good and useful numbers to report.

Disclaimer: I have no financial or other interests in FeedBurner other than as a user of their services. I'm sure there are other services available that offer similar tools. I just don't know about them.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Using twitter as a 'microblog'

Most of the people I follow on twitter use it more to share what they are thinking, feeling or doing. Momku does it in a very interesting and entertaining way. All of her 'tweets' are in haiku style.

I'm being followed by a couple who I can only assume follow me in an effort to increase their number of followers (hoping that I'll follow them in return). Their mistake.

Usually when I'm notified that someone is now following me (I receive an email), I'm curious enough to go to their twitter page to see if it is someone I know and would want to follow or try to figure out what is their motivation for following. This usually gets their web site hit one time by me and I move on.

Today, I got notified that I had a new follower "21st Century Citizen". I was curious to see who it was and found that they are using twitter - very effectively - as a microblog. While sometimes some of those I follow use twitter as a microblog, that is the minority of their tweets. "21st Century Citizen" is using it as a way to promote environmentalism by sharing links to related web sites and articles. Of course I clicked on their home page link as well. If I were interested in this topic, I probably would have followed them in twitter and subscribed to their blog (using my RSS reader). But, I'm not, so I won't.

I don't respect their spam like method of marketing. However, I do respect how they are using the tools and can see this as a quick way to share information - with those interested. would be a better tool for sharing links with brief descriptions, but they would lose out on the 'spam marketing option'.

What I did learn from them is that twitter could be a good way to share lots of small pieces of information with a large (or small) audience. Maybe a way to share a 'tip of the day' in your area of interest. If there were someone who shared one short (twitter limits you to 140 characters per tweet) tip each day (or just each week) on a topic I was interested in, I would follow them. Hey, that sounds like a good idea. I think I'll try it. Are you interested in an IT Tip of the Day? Follow me at: and we'll see how long I can keep it up. (you can help me by sending me tips to use) Maybe several of us could use post to this - contact me if you are interested in 'co-tweeting'.

What do you know? Maybe a micro-blog will be easier to maintain than a regular blog. I'll let you know.

One nice thing about using twitter as a micro-blog is that I'll easily be able to see who is subscribed (following). Which is a great lead in for my next article - how to count who's reading your blog.