Social sharing is becoming an ever-more-important web metric, complementing the old gauge of page views and unique visitors.
Social shares help journalists assess their work and can also serve as evidence of their success to their editors and potential employers.
They're also a way to show the public what is popular on a site. The New York Times, for example, recently added a “Most Tweeted” items under its “most popular” section.
Muck Rack, a social network for journalists, recently launched a tool that allows you to immediately see who is sharing your link by adding a bookmark to your browser. This is a useful tool for all journalists, but especially for those whose work is published on sites that don’t provide these kind of instant share numbers.
By having this tool in your browser on your computer or mobile device you can immediately enter the URL of an article and get results from LinkedIn, Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook. The search results will also show you how many journalists shared your link, and allows you to easily incorporate the URL to your Muck Rack work portfolio. Muck Rack plans to add additional social networks to the tool in the near future.
Although the tool itself is free, it has some limitations for non-paying customers. For example, only premium users can see the name of journalists who shared their content, which would deprive non-paying customers from following up with journalists who are interested in their work.
“We wanted to take this one step further and allow people to view the shares with only one click, so we built the Muck Rack Bookmarklet, which can be installed for free in seconds,” Galant told IJNet.
"Knowledge is power," said Galant, who believes journalists need this tool. “We're already seeing writers use social share numbers to land new jobs, raises and promotions."
The tool is also being used for reporting. “For example, if you're writing about a viral video you can use Muck Rack to find out how many times it's been shared,” he pointed out.
While the tool is only available in English, Galant said they plan to make it usable in other languages soon.
Click here to download Muck Rack's “Who shared my link?” browser tool.
Natasha Tynes is a bilingual digital journalist based in Washington, D.C. You can read her thoughts on journalism, digital media and the Middle East on her website, follow her on Twitter or email her at ntynes (at) gmail.com.
Image CC-licensed on Flickr via ejorpin.