Not the ROI of blogging, but the Reach And Influence of blogging

At last week’s Austin Social Media Club meeting the topic turned to running numbers to prove that social media should be used in a particular situation. My blogger buddy Ynema at talk.bmc talks about her frustrations when people talk about the ROI of blogging. She wants to run screaming from the room when it comes up, but of course she doesn’t because she’s a pro. But, in a corporate environment, someone or some department has to pay the blogger’s bills. So it comes up. Continually.
My take on it right now is that you might be measuring the wrong metric with the wrong yardstick.

I just read this great article about the Reach and Influence (R and I) of blogging and it offers the measurable analytics to use when investigating the blog’s help on the bottom line. She’s talking about sponsoring independent bloggers, but I think the principles work effectively in reverse when analyzing your corporate blog site.
From the article:
1. Traffic (but don’t trust it alone)
2. RSS feeds
3. Inbound hotlinks
4. Search position, part one – keywords for company brand and keywords
5. Search position, part two – keywords for an individual’s brand (fame level)
6. Voice

Maybe reframing ROI as R and I of blogging can help people like Ynema keep her dignity so that she doesn’t have to suppress the urge to run screaming from the room. She didn’t run screaming from the room at the Austin SMC meeting, but that might be because she just had knee surgery. 

Just calmly rephrase the ROI question as an R and I question and you can calmly prove that Influence is worth Investing in.

I learned much, much more about how this influence works and what numbers you could tie it to at the August Austin Social Media Club meeting, though. (Lookie, a pic of me and Steve Carl at the meeting.) Giovanni Gallucci, social media consultant extraordinaire, had examples of how to tie social media value to real numbers.

One: ask any sales person who needs a direct connection to a real customer how valuable a connection is when they say “I read this person’s blog and I am ready to learn more about your product.” Real sale made.

Two: immediate reaction to any negativity or problem with a product or service nearly requires the quickness of a blog or other social media tool. I immediately thought of the speed of Twitter and wiki page updates compared to waiting for a newspaper print to run or a TV news story to be aired. Real time saved.

And whurley (opensville.org) added
Three: A-list bloggers get listened to and if they mention your blog or product, you can directly compare that coverage to the advertising costs of a campaign that would have the same results. Real money saved.

Do you think I’m right in changing investment value to influence value for the new media? Any other metrics I’ve missed?

6 Comments

  • August 28, 2007 - 8:42 am | Permalink

    Man, you are right on the money! Great tips delivered with great clarity. Giovanni Galluci actually did a presentation where he showed one of whurley’s blog in relation to a PR or marketing campaign and how much attention it generated in terms of dollars. That’s what we have to get across.
    Fortunately, everyone’s jumping on the Cluetrain now, even if they don’t know why. So, the silly questions from newbs get asked less and less as they see blogs become mainstream PR in business.

  • Chris Almond
    August 30, 2007 - 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Hi Anne – I was the one that kept the focus on metrics and ROI during the Q&A at the SMC meeting last week. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. And thanks for linking to Y’s blogs on the same subject.

    Yes it may seem like a frustrating newbie question to ask, but since its continually asked thats proof that its still an important question.

    Is there room here for social media marketing research efforts that lead to some accepted standards for how you measure “Reach and Influence”? Thats not my bailiwick, but I imagine there is a lot of academic activity focused on this.

    In Ynema’s blog she says “Forget about ROI and focus on ubiquity. Focus on what matters.”

    …I Love it, and I totally get it. I wasn’t pushing that question because I’m a newbie at this. Instead I asked that question hoping to hear about how our friends at BMC might have approached the challenge of talking about measurements to old line business leaders in their org when justifying the budget for supporting TalkBMC. And that I think is a very important issue that any social media evangelist needs to understand and present effectively as businesses continue to jump on the cluetrain.

    See you at next SMC meeting!

  • August 30, 2007 - 8:05 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t mean for this post to come across as discouraging the questions, nor to say only newbies ask those types of questions. You’re right on, we all need those questions asked constantly so that someone can point out if the emperor is actually naked. :)

    I love the measurability methods pointed out by the marketingsherpa.com article and I enjoyed Gio’s tie-ins as well. Thanks for starting the discussion at the meeting and continuing it here!

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