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Wine Blog Engagement Scores – a surprising result

Welcome back to the journey to find the “best wine blog” from a wine retailer’s perspective.

So far we’ve looked at compiling a list of wine blogs by using:

  • blog search engines such as Google Blog Search
  • DoubleClick media planning tools
  • the Open Site Explorer SEO tool (link authority and popularity)

We’ve defined our social media target market, the type of blog, and looked at existing lists.

Despite all this work we’re still only half way there, but I feel the top blogs are starting to become more obvious – please comment below if you see a pattern too.

The next tool we’ll use is PostRank.PostRank screen shot

Wine Blogs and the PostRank tool

PostRank rates blogs by the amount of engagement they have.

They define engagement as posting, commenting, subscribing and reading. It seems inexact but social media monitoring tools are like search engines early last decade – they are at the cusp of being accurate and extremely helpful but are still in rapid development.

In the meantime their results can be illuminating, here’s how PostRank puts it,

PostRank measures engagement by analyzing the types and frequency of an audience’s interaction with online content. An item’s PostRank score represents how interesting and relevant people have found it to be. The more interesting or relevant an item is, the more work they will do to share or respond to that item so interactions that require more effort are weighted higher.

PostRank scoring is based on analysis of the “5 Cs” of engagement: creating, critiquing, chatting, collecting, and clicking. By collecting interaction engagement metrics in these categories the overall engagement score is calculated and the PostRank value is determined.

An Engagement Score

And a score is just what I need – remember I’m trying to keep this process transparent and objective.

Here’s how I’ve done it:

  • I’ve taken the feeds from my initial list of wine blogs and put them into an RSS reader called Google Reader (only 22 of the 28 feeds would work).
  • I’ve then installed this bit of software from PostRank called the Reader Plugin into my Firefox browser.
  • I’ve then cut and paste the posts from the reader (using GreaseMonkey GoogleReader Print Button) into a spreadsheet.
  • Then I’ve formatted this data into a chart.

PostRank Wine Blog Chart

PostRank Wine Blog Graph

The Top Wine Blogs by Engagement

What we see above is a score for each of the last 10 posts added up to give a total engagement score over a period of about a month. The highest possible score would be 100 and I’m impressed with how many are scoring well.

The stand out is another wine blog with a score of 75 – holy cow they’ve beaten Wine Library TV! That’s some feat and congrats to Amy and Joe.

I can perhaps see why when the post I checked out today was an interview with “miss little risk” including the odd nude photo (a serious post nonetheless)! It’s interesting to see that over the week they’ve lost some placings – so it looks like you can move up and down weekly lists reasonably fast (note I try and avoid this volatility by taking a whole month of 10 posts). It even looks like the ranking for each post will change every day (as I’ve seen when I came back to the list a week later).

Other blogs that rank above 60 are 1WineDude, Steve Heimoff, Diner’s Journal, Fermentation and Dr Vino.

One that really stands out to me is vinography for being so low. Which makes me wonder whether I shouldn’t do this again in a month or two post the summer break. This could be an unfair representation as many people are outdoors not in front of their computers.

To follow how these rank week by week go to my wine blog list on PostRank.

Engagement Score – More Detail

To understand why some of these ranked so high let’s dive into some detail. Here’s how PostRank describes how they calculate social media engagement:

Creating Icon
Creating. The strongest form of engagement – writing your own blog post. Creation requires the most thought and investment of time, actively generates conversation, and therefore indicates the highest level of engagement.

Critiquing Icon
Critiquing. The strongest form of engagement is demonstrated by using an item as inspiration to create your own, for example, writing your own blog post that responds to or refutes someone else’s blog post. Creation requires the most thought and investment of time, actively generates conversation, and therefore indicates the highest level of engagement.

Chatting Icon
Chatting. Sharing and discussing information can often be started with one click, so it doesn’t require a major investment of effort. However, a desire to share is a strong indication of relevance, and the act of sharing and its ensuing discussion are acts of conversation. Use of social media applications like Twitter encourage both the sharing of information and the resulting conversations. As a result, social media “chatting” indicates a good level of engagement.

Collecting Icon
Collecting. Bookmarking or submitting items to social sites also tend to be “one-click” actions. They are intentional acts of archiving and sharing, but don’t require much time or effort. However, the sharing that occurs often sparks conversations, so Collecting does demonstrate some engagement.

Clicking Icon
Clicking. Activities like clicks and page views indicate lower engagement because they’re passive interactions. Clicking a link to read a blog post doesn’t require much work, and you’re not giving anything back except your reading time. It is an intentional act, however, and thus indicates a mild level of interest and engagement. Which may grow after the item is read.

So essentially they give you a higher score for doing everything well.

However blogging and commenting on other blogs is weighted higher than bookmarking (e.g. digg) and reading due to the amount engagement effort required. The higher the effort, the higher the score. Sounds reasonable to me as one way of many to rank a blog in this social media era.

Certainly also suggests a fair amount of volatility too. If there is an argument raging across the blogosphere then I guess that will garner more attention than less controversial topics.


I can’t get past the fact that I may come back to this in a couple of months time to find a radical difference in the rankings. So this is a snapshot of engagement levels during a particular time period.

Actually pretty much all the measures are valid for only a period of time come to think of it. External links (as per Open Site Explorer) may change relatively slowly but I can see engagement levels changing very fast month to month.

The Data

Here’s the data for your own analysis:


Helpful in building a picture of the wine blogosphere but not the answer given the probable volatility.

What’s your thoughts?


  1. Hi Bruce: Great post, and I’ll reinforce a couple of things that you mention because they’re right on. First, because we gather engagement metrics ongoing, and in real-time, a post’s score can change as the days go by. The reality is that over half the engagement a post gets, occurs in the first 50 minutes after publishing, but then there’s a tail of activity that happens over the next day and week. So it often does change.

    The second thing is that we do see big volatility in the overall site rankings week to week in a number of highly engaging topic areas – wine being one of them. We chalk this up to the publishers and their audience members being extremely interested and very active – an awesome thing. As you note, sometimes the summer does result in a bit of a lull which can tend to impact the overall engagement rankings. We’re looking forward to your next installment where you see what’s changed!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Huh, very interesting to hear how active the wine community is. Thanks for your insight and comments.

  3. Maybe I’m nutz, but why is Basic Juice on here? http://basicjuice.blogs.com/basicjuice/ Or is there another Basic Juice blog? Last update: 2008 – if that result showed up naturally then the methodology for this is seriously flawed.

  4. Where you’re really saying is that you’ve used PostRank to rank the wine blogs you subscribe to. There are plenty of good ones out there that aren’t on this list.

    And really, what does this ranking tell us? It’s a measure of engagement (online only) for the most recent period of time. No offense to Another Wine Blog, but does it engage people more offline than Wine Library TV? Has it performed better over the long run?

    For me, this post is little more than Excel porn.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Firstly Ryan, congratulations on a booked out European WBC, 2 months out no less!

    Re Basic Juice. I’ve had another look at why it was chosen (see this post http://www.mylocalwinestore.com/wine-social-media/top-28-free-wine-blogs-initial-list/ )

    It fell into the last group “1 medium authority blog search listing + 1 other listing”. The Cavemans Wine Blog is a similar example which arguably should not be there because his last post is May 2009.

    However I’ve wanted to keep the process transparent so once I made the criteria I was forced to be consistent and include these older blogs regardless. I remember thinking that it would be at least good for context.

    As to whether the methodology is flawed – well I guess that’s what I’m trying to assess in a completely open and transparent way. The hope is that if people see some issues they can point them out. Or if they have some better tools they can contribute them, or blog about an alternative way. So I thank you for the former – pointing out an issue. I’ll include that when I review this series of wine blog posts.

    Feel free to cast your educated and critical eye over the other tools I have used, your comments are appreciated.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I partially agree with you Dale.
    (BTW it’s OpenOffice or Numbers porn 🙂 , or maybe it’s wine marketing porn?).

    Indeed my conclusion was “Helpful in building a picture of the wine blogosphere but not the answer given the probable volatility.”

    At any rate it’s just one tool of many to get an overall picture, but like you (and PostRank’s Carol) point out it’s for a limited period of time. It is just one in a whole series of posts where I’m (currently unsuccessfully) trying to use different tools to find the best wine blog for a wine retailer.

    So far I’ve tried
    – Compete
    – PostRank
    – Open Site Explorer
    – DoubleClick
    – Google Blog Search, Yahoo Directory, Alexa, Wine Blog Awards ’10 and ’09, Cellarer, Top Wine Blogs, Food & Wine, Ala Wine, Wikio, blogs-com, BlogBridge, Blogged Directory, and Technorati.

    I’m still optimistic there is something out there. At the very least I hope to have a process that others can use to get a feel for how they fit in the big picture.

    One bit of self criticism is that I need to be clearer as to what a wine retailer’s social media objectives are. So I’m going to post something about that by next week.

    Lastly I truly appreciate your comments (and I don’t mean that cynically, I really do).


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