So what does that mean for your online reputation?
Don't bother measuring volume
Everyone measures volume. How much coverage am I getting? How does it compare to my competitors? But who cares? So much content - when read - lacks any real value. It doesn't matter if 30 websites have reported your interim results or the launch of a new product. That's not just because they may not be read by many people. It's because what really matters is what impact that's had. Who's blogged about it? What was the response in the comments section? What ideas did it spark elsewhere?
Don't rely on a single metric
If you're measuring value it's an inherently complex calculation. It can't be boiled down to a single algorithm - no matter how elaborate. Why? Because you can't compare comments, pings and trackbacks on a single scale. You can't compare one long thoughtful post from a small blog but an influential person (a Member of Parliament, for example). That's why human judgement is king.
Consider the legacy
A small thing, done well, is a better internet legacy than a big thing done poorly. For example, in six months time using a mass press release distribution service may just still help search engine optimisation (although it's not that likely) but won't have created any long term relationships to which you can return. In contrast, a single well constructed blog post on the right blog can create a long term relationship with far greater authenticity.
I don't underestimate the challenge of defeating the lure of big numbers. These are only some of the ways in which effectiveness beats volume. Any other thoughts?