Measuring the ROI of social web tools

There’s a really good post on measurement from those clever social computing types over at Headshift that explains how we should thinking to successfully gauge the ROI of social web tools.

They suggests that as traditional web tools are designed specifically to address one  issue or problem it’s easy to measure their ROI. Measuring ROI on social web tools is more difficult since social tools can address several issues/problems at the same time and have multiple uses. Also – and perhaps most significantly – social websites are not really controlled by the producer but shaped and developed according to the community using it.

So…… the solution, Headshift suggests, is “[m]easurement is possible when implemented, a posteriori. Back to basics.”

Or more specifically I would suggest, back to front.That is, setting made-up metrics, targets, returns, whatever… implies you can judge what your website is going to do or achieve specifically before you build it.

But what direction the site goes in once it’s built or set loose into the live web is determined by its users. So the best way to measure it’s effectiveness or success is to set measurement targets after the site has launched and it becomes clear where the community is taking it.

Or more broadly:

“The major shift we need concerns tools and our relationship with them. One lesson organisations can take from Web 2.0 is that social software is not some kind of “Deus ex-machina” – in fact, no single tool is. Tools that pretend to be one-size-fits-all solutions are aimed at lazy IT and procurement departments, not business people.”

And once we accept that, then we need to adjust our understanding of how to measure these sites and their relationship with users. A relationship ultimely controlled and directed by the users themselves.

What’s revolutionary, disruptive, synergistic and viral?

The answer may not be what you think it is…

According to the quite amusing blog, Uncov, the answer is either social networking or gonorrhea.

I quote:

“Like Web 2.0, you can get the clap for free, and some providers ask you to pay for the premium service. Penicillin will cure you of one, but the other is degenerative.”

Be warned, there’s cuss words there.

Your help needed

I’m currently researching for my PR Diploma dissertation which will explore the ability of UK political blogs to set or influence the UK’s mainstream media agenda.

Put simply, is there evidence of UK political bloggers breaking or shaping stories that have been picked up by the MSM.

In order to examine the agenda-setting process at work I wondered if anyone could suggest some examples where bloggers have set the media agenda in some way?

The work is non-commercial and any help given will be credited as part of the study’s research methodology.

Any suggestions gratefully recived but they need to be UK political bloggers setting the UK media agenda.

Feel free to leave your thoughts/comments below or alternatively email them to me at the email address in my ‘about’ section.


Technortati tags: agenda+setting; PR+diploma; political+blogging;

Conversation marketing is still marketing

Buzz phrase of the moment seems to be ‘conversation marketing’.

I’m not sure where I came across it… but I have a feeling it was the Microsoft/Federated Media campaign that ran/is running in the US.

Well, correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t ‘conversation marketing’ still marketing? And aren’t we looking for better, more effective, genuine ways of engaging with people using the internet?

Nick Carr gives his thoughts on the subject in his Guardian technology column.

Technorati tags: conversation+marketing; Nick+Carr; Technology+Guardian

Why politics won’t benefit from Web 2.0’s change in attitude… yet

Two days, two great examples of why the electorate will remain apathetic and disillusioned – no matter how many politicians start blogging.

Today saw the announcement that no-one will face charges in the loans for peerages ‘scandal’.

I put scandal in inverted commas because it has been largely par for the course in British politics that a donor gives a million quid (or less) and gets made a peer.

However. the whole case has thrown light on a dimly-lit and sordid part of the British political scene and given the chaotic investiagtion I was surpirsed to see the man at the centre of the controversy, Lord Levy, appear in the media beaming like a kid in a sweetshop.

Given anyone with half a brain understands that the case was wound up probably due to a technicality or lack of evidence rather than any inherent wrong-doing, it seems a bit churlish to gloat about your ‘innocence’.

Conversely, yesterday saw the admssion by four of Gordon Brown’s cabinet, including Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith (above), that they had smoked cannabis in the past.

For me this a shot in the arm for politics. Having politicians bold enough to own up to something a majority of people (surely?) would think doesn’t make someone unfit to be a politician is an important step to make politics relevant and accountable.

The point I’m making is: double-standards.

In a society where more and more individuals want honesty and respect from their brands, surely politicians need to start adapting their behaviour and policies to this shift in values as well.

On one hand, Lord Levy cracks a repugnant smile that says “everyone knows we did things that were morally dubious if technically legal” while Jacqui Smith says “Yeah. Most students have dabbled at some point in their lives and I’m only human”.

Which one would trust more?

Technorati tags: cash+for+peerages; Lord+Levy; cannabis; Jacqui+Smith; trust; politics

B.L. Ochman and neologisms

I was reading a really insightful post by B.L. Ochman on social networks and blogging (it pretty much wraps up the thoughts of others in one nice, neat place) when I came across the term ‘socnet’.

Socnet? Hmm. Not sure I like that neologism to describe social networks. And what’s wrong with saying social network anyway?

And then I read a great post about ‘10 Things we can Learn from Facebook’ by Susan Mernit. And she too can’t be bothered to write social network or networks. Susan refers to them as ‘social nets’.

Usually I’m a big fan of made-up words, but in this case I just think that ‘socnets’ or ‘social nets’ takes away from the meaning of the word.

Is there a pedants group on Facebook I can join?

Technorati tags: B.L.+Ochman; Susan+Mernit; social+networks; pedants; Facebook

*UPDATED* Weinberger vs. Keen

The Wall Street Journal has the full-text of a debate between authors David Weinberger and Andrew Keen.

It’s really excellent stuff. Keen argues the web (especially this thing called Web 2.0) is a problem.

Weinberger retorts that the web "is also the continuing struggle to deal with that problem."

The full text of the debate is available here.

Most people will know what I think about Andrew Keen, but as it’s the internet… judge for yourself.

*UPDATED* According to Ewan semple, you can also watch "a philosophy major wipe the floor with a moron"

Technorati tags: Wall+Street+Journal; Andrew+Keen; David+Weinberger


We have BBC News 24 on in our office all day. Here’s a reminder of how rolling news ought to be.

It’s not the channels but what people do with the channels

It’s nice to feel satisfied twice in one day. Following …TWL…’s post on a UK blogging slow-down, it’s good to see Steve Rubel reinforcing the fact that what’s important in the online social space is not so much the technology, but rather what society and culture are doing with that technology.

Amen to that. Understanding what society is doing with emerging technology and how it impacts on the way organisations function is something I have long held to be the most important thing in PR, which is after all… public relations… er, helping clients relate with the public?

Channel’s like Twitter, blogs, Facebook et al come and go but leave a perceptible change in society, social structures and public behaviour.

As Steve remarks:

“The most interesting action is in sociology. In other words, how does technology change our culture and how we interact with media, the web and each other – and to what end? This was a major realization for me a few months back and you have probably noticed it in my writing, which is less channel focused. These days, I am far more interested in what people do with technology rather than on what the latest new “shiny object” is.”

Sometimes it’s all too easy to get caught up with new, shiny objects and it’s certainly easier to blog about. But that’s missing the real, added value of all this technology. It’s a means to end, not the end in itself. Get me?

*UPDATED* UK PR blogging slow – graph proves it’s real!

So I posted recently about a perceived fall-off in the number of posts from UK PR/marketing bloggers. I also secretly longed to prove myself right by doing a cross comparison of the number of posts from key bloggers between then (2006) and now (2007).

I never found the time… but by some brilliant co-incidence, …The World’s Leading… has done exactly what I would have done.

He/She/They has even generated a little graph to prove it, along with another graph showing the individual posting patterns of the bloggers surveyed – although I don’t think Heather Hopkins has too much to worry about!


It appears my blog output has taken a turn upwards recently, which is good to see because I have been making a conscious effort to post more regularly and also about more in-depth topics as opposed to ‘how to’ style posts.

I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but if they have I’d love to hear people’s views on the slight change of tack – if anyone is still reading that is!

*UPDATED* I also managed to find a good post by Ian Delaney about why blogging is now more difficult than it was 12 months ago. Full article here at NMK but a good sample is below:

"The main point is that starting a new blog now is like
joining a multi-level marketing scheme, after it’s been
running for four years. At the bottom of the pyramid, your task
in attracting new readers is exponentially harder than it was
for those who started their sites just a few months ago. You
need to expend more time reading and responding to blogs, and
more time writing your blog, to gain the same share of the
blogosphere’s attention, and ranking, than it would have
taken in 2005."