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« If you were stuck on a desert island, and could only follow 150 people on Twitter, who would you follow and why? | Main | The New ROI -- Listen, Learn, Adapt: Return on Insight - Does it work for nonprofits? »

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David Kinard

Beth:

Maybe I missed it, but it seems that the one key metric that wasn't covered has to do with the original purpose of the blog in the first place. Tracking engagement metrics such as backlinks (google), trackbacks, comments, burns, etc., are akin to tracking registrations and attendance at a conference or workshop. Sure, it tells you who showed up and how people engaged with the content, but what about the purpose -- the mission?

I think the metric needs to be tied to the purpose in order for there to be true value in the data collected. Otherwise, how is an author supposed to know what to do with the fact that they had 4 comments on a post, or that 7 trackbacks have been logged? The data itself is useless until the author links value to it.

Unfortunately, there are many bloggers who have begun blogging with no purpose other than to get out into the blogosphere and figure it out as they go. They spin their wheels and can't understand why they aren't getting any traction. They worry and fret over blog stats trying to figure out if there is any ROI in their efforts.

Maybe we should all just focus on one metric to start off with -- ROR -- return on relevancy. Let's measure that to ensure what we say is of value and importance, that we're actually contributing rather than making noise.

-- David Kinard, PCM

Laura Lee Dooley

Measuring website traffic is VERY different from measuring social media success. I continue to come back to what Jason Falls wrote -

"The problem with trying to determine ROI for social media is you are trying to put numeric quantities around human interactions and conversations, which are not quantifiable." (http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/2008/10/28/what-is-the-roi-for-social-media/)

I also agree with David Kinard - The purpose of social media, in my mind, is to participate with a community. But that community should have a goal/purpose/reason to be, so it matters who is part of the community, what they are saying/doing, and how they are connecting.

On twitter, on facebook, on linkedin, the numbers matter. But they don't capture the human interactions or whether you are meeting your purpose (which, by the way, may change over time or may be multi-faceted) - unless your purpose is to get a certain number of followers, friends, fans, or connections.

For example, how do you measure when I connected with the son of someone I used to work with 20 years ago who works for a group that offers a great free environmental news service that I now use on a regular basis to find stories I don't get through my Google Alerts or digg.com. And that we have created a facebook group - http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=38979624830&ref=ts - that is encouraging people to decorate beach balls with an earth theme to take to the mall on Inauguration Day to remind people of the importance of environmental issues for/to the Obama administration.

Is this type of social media connection the norm or beyond the standard? How do you measure it? This connection is an excellent one that I could not have defined by purpose and cannot measure numerically.

So, you can throw a bunch of numbers that highlight growth in engagement and interaction - but understand they are only part of what defines social media success.

BTW - I am really loving the tool http://tweetake.com/ which exists for the sole purpose to provide you with a backup of all your Twitter data. Data is backed up via a .csv file which you can download. This is another great tool for analyzing data about your twitter connections.

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Thanks for sharing useful ideas. Nice blog to read.

Kate Talbot

I am also of the mindset that the purpose of social media is to participate with a community. This is especially the case in the non-profit space. Individuals that participate regularly are more likely to become evangelists for their cause, therefore recruiting new members. How might this metric be measured?

One other thought on this topic. What if your organization's ultimate goal is to influence offline behavior in some way. You would quite possibly need to measure metrics beyond your own web presence to determine this impact.

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