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Measuring Intangibles Revisted – Social Media Metrics & ROI

February 21, 2008


A few weeks back I wrote a post about quantifying and measuring intangibles for Return on Investment (ROI) metrics (January 19, 2008, Measuring Intangibles – Making Impact the Bottom Line). The conversation got going based on a discussion about social media metrics with blogger Beth Kanter. I made the point that sometimes issues such as influence are not so easy to measure, but the impact is real nonetheless. I expressed my concern that businesses & nonprofits could miss opportunities because because they may find themselves unwilling to participate in activities that are not easily measured, but may otherwise prove beneficial. My conclusion to the thought was, “Focus on the mission, measure what you can, and the money will follow. Impact is the bottom line.”

However, lest anyone accuse me of throwing out metrics as a valuable and necessary tool for business development, I put together a short list of resources that shed light on measuring the impact of social media. As the saying goes, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” So any effort to better understand and quantify the impact of any strategic activity provides accountability and the benchmarks necessary to monitor progress. In fact, this is a key component that I include in all of the strategic planning that I do with my clients.

Here are a few of the resources that I have found useful in exploring the measurement of social media:

Latest Trend in Social Media: How to Listen Effectively and Engage in the Conversation
A free webinar archive featuring Senior Forrester Research Analyst Jeremiah Owyang and Glenn Fannick of Dow Jones has a great basic introduction to social media then gets into specifics of measurement.

This is one of the many resources provided by Owyang in a Social Media Measurement archive at his Web Strategy by Jeremiah blog. Tons of great stuff here.

Measuring Social Media Efforts
Social Media Consultant Chris Brogan takes a little different approach as he writes about mapping your social media activities to get a handle on the effectiveness of your efforts.

The ROI of Social Media

An article by Beth Kanter on The Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) blog gives a good overview with lots of links and Beth’s typical thoughtfulness and depth on the topics she engages in. Her blog also has a wealth of info about social media ROI.

Measurement, ROI & Social Media
Blogger and ACDSee Community Manager Connie Bensen was part of a meme detailing her approach to using quantitative and qualitative metrics in measuring social media ROI. The meme was started by Geoff Livingston at The Buzz Bin blog and has lots of great insight from others who were tagged in the meme.

Ten Things to Know About Measuring Social Media
Marketing Consultant Larry Chase has an article in his Web Digest for Marketers written by web metrics expert Jim Sterne. This perspective comes at social media measurement from someone with a background in traditional web analytics. Many social media consultants feel that traditional web metrics are not that helpful when dealing with social media, but Sterne provides some useful insights that the social media pundits don’t tend to focus on.

A Not So Final Word…

Like social media itself, the measurement of it’s ROI is clearly evolving with the needs of it’s users. Would standards be helpful? Surely. But in the end, the organization doing the measuring has to determine what is most important to them. Whether you lean toward measuring hard numbers, e.g., subscribers, comments, links, etc., or influence and organic relationship building, an effective social media strategy is necessary for any organization seeking deeper engagement and interaction with it’s constituents. In business, selling widgets and building relationships are not mutually exclusive. But if you don’t have the relationships, who are you gonna sell your widgets to?

Feel free to add a comment with other resources on social media metrics & ROI that you have found helpful.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. kanter1 permalink
    February 21, 2008 5:10 pm

    Hi Dave,


    Thanks for this roundup – very useful! I’m actually working on a book chapter on the topic of ROI and Nonprofit Technology – (not just social media, but it includes other technologies). This came out of a session I did for Legal Services on ROI: Beyond How Much Does Cost? Which was why I was doing that post on quantifying intangibles – can you quantify love?

    Anyway, here’s the presentation thought I’d add it

    I also have two wikis with lots of links and resources and I”m going to add you to that

    Right now I’m designing a panel on Social Media ROI – it is going to be a case study slam.
    some notes

  2. February 21, 2008 9:26 pm

    Hi Dave,
    Thanks for bringing the topic up again.

    Jeremiah’s info on the Dow Jones webinar was right on.

    Measurement is important, but I think that the goals are larger than just making more money. It’s about building community & providing better customer service. This is in turn will directly affect the brand & WOM. In the end it’s about getting started (experimenting on a small scale, then building on success).

  3. July 10, 2008 3:36 pm

    very interesting post. it is hard to judge the roi.


  1. Measuring Intangibles Revisted - Social Media Metrics & ROI
  2. links for 2008-02-22
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