I have been studying the social computing trend and watching how it is crossing over from “consumerland” to “enterpriseland” for some time now. One of the biggest barriers to enterprise adoption is convincing decision makers that there are real business benefits.
I’ve been running a successful internal community at IBM for 10 years and as such I’ve been interested in applying social computing tools to help community members share content, comment on content, and collaborate on topics of interest. As a community leader, I can see the value of the community on a daily basis. However, the executives up the management chain always want to know what the hard business benefits are. They ask “What’s the dollar return on all this time you are putting in?
Additionally, for the last couple of years, I’ve been helping fellow colleagues launch external community and social media efforts designed to engage customers and partners in social computing spaces where we can engage in conversations, share content, and learn from each other. Again, those of us involved in these efforts understand that the business is benefiting from the impact of these online community and social media efforts. However, as it is with the internal efforts, the management chain wants to see what the value to the business truly is via metrics and ROI.
I understand the need to measure and report back on any investments of time, money, resources. At the same time the ROI of social media and communities is very hard to measure. As this question is important to all of us involved in these efforts, I thought I take some time to do some research on the Net to see what I could find on the topic of Social Media and ROI. So I launched into a keyword searching project the last few days.
About halfway into my research I found a February 2, 2009 post by Robin Broitman of Interactive Insights Group that provided a long list of resources. Robin put together a post that is part of a number of helpful “Superlists” that IIG has posted over the last few years. The Feb 2009 post provides a long list of resources and links regarding social media metrics. Its a fantastic post for anyone interested in this subject. Check it out here Social Media Metrics Superlist: Measurement, ROI, & Key Statistics Resources.
But I continued in my research to see what resources I could uncover that were posted/published since February of 2009. So here are other resources I uncovered during my research. I’ve sorted the list below alphabetically…could not figure a better way to do it.
- Altimeter/Wetpaint Study: ENGAGEMENTdb: Ranking the Top 100 Global Brands – July 2009 study ranks top global brands on customer engagement. Study highlights Starbucks, Toyota, SAP, and Dell and shows a correlation to financial performance.
- Brian Solis: ROI: How to Measure Return on Investment in Social Media – Feb. 22, 2010 article not really a “How To” article, but more of a primer on social media ROI. Check out all the comments below the post. Good discussion.
- eMarketer: Measuring Return on Social Investment. February 2010 post provides an overview of an Insight Brief Seven Guidelines for Achieving ROI from Social Media that is available by subscription
- Forrester: The ROI Of Online Customer Service Communities Registration required at Lithium.com for this June 2009 Forrester report which highlights that thare are significant benefits to be achieved via online customer service communities.
- Fresh Networks: Measurement Topics Tag – this link takes you to the Fresh Networks blog’s Measurement topics tag where you’ll find lots of posts on ROI of Social Media.
- CMSWire: Social Networking in the Enterprise: What's the ROI? Focus in this Feb 23, 2010 post is to help the reader understand the benefits of social networks behind the firewall.
- Kim Cornwall Malseed (via CRM): Social Media ROI: How 3 B2B Technology Companies are Achieving Revenue Results provides Kim’s notes from a Feb 19, 2010 Northern Virginia Tech club meeting where panelists from three local B2B technology companies shared the ROI gained and lessons learned by using social media to engage prospects and customers online.
- Jeremiah Owyang: Social Media Measurement Posts Various blog posts from one of the most widely read SM bloggers in his Social Media Measurement category
- Jeff Bullas: 8 Steps To Demonstrate Positive Return On Investment For Social Media Marketing November 9, 2009 blog post provides list of metrics and indicators, but accurately argues that analytics need to be in place prior to the launch of SM efforts in order to capture and measure results.
- IAB: Social Media Ad Metrics Definitions 12 page pdf published in May 2009 provides overview to metrics
- Marketing Profs: Social Media ROI Success Stories Available for a fee. Provides case studies on 11 Companies.
- Mashable: How to Measure Social Media ROI – October 27, 2009 post by Christina Warren provides a good overview of the topic.
- McKinsey: How companies are benefiting from Web 2.0 - “The heaviest users of Web 2.0 applications are also enjoying benefits such as increased knowledge sharing and more effective marketing. These benefits often have a measurable effect on the business.” Must have premium membership to read full Sept. 2009 article.
- MediaWeek: Does Social Sell? – Feb 16, 2010 article highlights Pepsi, Dell, and H&R Block
- Mediapost: AdWords Vs. Social Media, Round I – Post by Kaila Colbin tries to answer the question “How, for example, do you measure 100 clicks from AdWords against 72 clicks, 27 retweets, seven Facebook mentions, and two forum threads”.
- Olivier Blanchard: Basics Of Social Media Roi - Link takse you to a popular Slideshare post providing you with a 67 page slide deck on Social Media ROI.
- Online Community Report: Online Communities: Metrics and Reporting 2009 Provides a summary of a 51 page report that you can purchase.
- Peter Kim: A framework for measuring social media Although from September 2008, Peter’s post here provides a simple framework to start with.
- Rand Fishkin (SEOmoz.org Getting Honest About Social Media Marketing A May 4, 2009 post that examines the hypothesis: “The majority of marketers who engage in social media do so NOT because it produces greater ROI (professionally), but because the metrics are more immediately tangible and emotionally rewarding”.
- The Green Market: Social Media and ROI This May 2009 post by Richard Mattews provides a good discussion of the topic.
- WOMMA: Best Practices in Word of Mouth and Social Media: WOMMA and Measurement and Metrics Best Practices Guidebook. The 61 page guidebook is available to WOMMA members only. If you are not a member, I suggest you sign up today!
For those of you interested in the Social Media ROI topic, I hope this gives you a reference list of resources you can use to further your own understanding of the issues of measuring social media tactics….and then apply that learning to help justify your social media strategies. I plan on using the list myself to do the same.
Let me know if you know of other resources, reports, case studies that talk about the real hard business benefits being achieved via social media AND online communities.