Four days ago I published a post for O'Reilly Radar called, What Does Government 2.0 Look Like? Well, it's not so much a blog post as an abbreviated white paper. I thought it was a really good post, and then I published it and received zero comments. Not one. And my posts on similar topics on the same well-trafficked site often get numerous comments, and sometimes even many.
So, I thought that perhaps this post didn't really indluence anybody.
But I was wrong. I was also co-hosting the giant Government 2.0 Expo in Washington DC this week, and because I was on stage most of the attendees knew who I was, walking around the halls. Quite a number of people stopped me to say that they saw my post and it really changed how they think, or some variation on that. And meanwhile well over 100 people have shared the article on Twitter alone.
The article generated word of mouth, and was influencing people. Perhaps too much – they didn't quite know what to say about it because it was somewhat outside the box.
Comments on blogs are one way to measure influence, or more generally readership. But they're certainly not the only way. You can generate a lot of comments by being a complete idiot and asking for feedback – lots of people will help you with that. On the flip side you can write something brilliant but outside the mainstream and influence a lot of people who don't have immediate feedback because they need to gestate for a while.
So if you have a blog that rarely gets comments, don't forget that there are other metrics of audience, word of mouth, and influence.