Hopp, Toby, & Gallicano, Tiffany Derville (2016). Development and test of a multidimensional scale of blog engagement. Journal of Public Relations Research, 28(3-4), 127–145. doi:10.1080/1062726X.2016.1204303
Social media interactions are commonly used to measure engagement; however, at most, they should be used only as a key performance indicator since audiences can be engaged without liking, sharing or commenting on content online. Furthermore, it is difficult to know whether interactions come from customers, employees, outsiders or other stakeholders. Based on prior research, we tested several possible dimensions of engagement in the context of blogs.
Blogs are an important channel in the social media mix and are used commonly for thought leadership on channels such as LinkedIn and Medium. When used on websites, they improve organizations’ search engine optimization due to the fresh content and possibility of links from other web pages. Our study resulted in a scale for measuring blog engagement that can be tested in other social media contexts.
We used surveys to collect three independent samples across an 18-month period. To qualify for participation, respondents were required to be U.S. citizens and at least occasional blog readers. Data were collected from 1,231 participants.
- The first identified indicator of blog engagement was utility, or the degree to which a blog’s content is meaningful to readers’ lives.
- The second identified indicator of blog engagement was presence, or the degree to which a blog’s content is perceived to be cognitively absorbing.
- The third indicator of blog engagement was virality, or the degree to which a blog’s content is perceived to be worthy of sharing with others online, offline or through both methods.
- Taken together, the utility, presence and virality dimensions comprise a 12-item self-report measure of blog engagement.
- Demonstrating the importance of engagement, subsequent analyses indicated that blog engagement plays an important role in explaining the relationship between interest in a blog’s subject matter and the degree to which the blog was a preferred information source.
Implications for Practice
Public relations professionals can use a quantitative scale for measuring engagement to enhance assessment efforts. One advantage of a survey is that additional questions can be added to help professionals gain insight into which stakeholder groups are actively engaging with content. In addition, a survey captures not only people who make their engagement visible but also people who are engaged without liking, sharing or commenting. Finally, an engagement scale can help public relations professionals identify why their content is engaging or not engaging. The present study provides a parsimonious self-report tool for measuring comprehensively reader engagement with blogged content. While the current measurement tool is ostensibly designed to measure blog engagement, it can also be easily modified to evaluate user engagement on other social media platforms.
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Keywords: Blogs, Engagement, Measurement, Social Networking