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Michele Martin

Maybe I'm crabby today, but I always find it amusing when organizations bring up "ROI" and "productivity" when it comes to using social media. Why isn't this question asked when I'm required to attend yet another useless meeting or put together a "cover your butt" report or memo? What about when I'm having to complete both a paper version and a computer entry for the same thing?

So much of what passes for "getting things done" in organizations is about bad work processes that, if fixed, might actually leave more time for more productive pursuits like building your own knowledge and professional contacts to further your organization's mission. I have a really hard time with having to "prove" the worth of something like blogging when we blithely accept so many other work practices that are clearly unproductive because "that's how things are."

OK. I guess I AM a little crabby today. :-)

Elizabeth Dunn

I've been flogging the "professional development" angle for the ROI of blogging, having experienced first-hand the power of a long (and continuing) series of well-spent Saturdays researching nonprofit technology and trends on blogs. There's still a fair bit of resistance, though, to incorporating it into one's actual workday as a practice of lasting value.

It is all about relationship-building, and I equate it to the many community events, art openings, and other real-world networking opportunities whose value isn't questioned.

Allan Benamer

I think they're right -- there's no ROI to blogging right now for most orgs. [shrug] It's a strategic initiative whose financial payoff is too far down the line for most nonprofits to contemplate. I wouldn't recommend it for most nonprofits. That said, it's much like most of a web site. Many web sites have large portions that don't really fare well under an ROI analysis. There are many reasons to just simply have some brochureware and a Donate Now button and just call it a day. Then again, many marketing initiatives do not have direct ROI and their payoffs are years down the line. There MUST be a reason I knew about a handful of the megacharities even before I joined the nonprofit sector and I attribute that to marketing and advocacy. It's basically brandbuilding for an org and brandbuilding has a notoriously low short-term ROI. If your brand is about transparency and accountability, then blogging works. If you're trying to project something other than that, then don't do it.

I could certainly attest to the ROI for my blog but I'm a terrible subject for a white paper. I didn't subject my blog to a strategic analysis at the outset. I didn't know I was going to write about the things I eventually wrote about. It took seven months before I even started to take it seriously. I'm also not a consultant so I've never even entertained the surprisingly numerous job offers I've received because of the blog. It's definitely an unknown long-term investment. What I can say is that for all my hard work, I've made $200 in Google Adsense money which I've donated to Idealware and YouthAssets. So there's the total "hard" ROI for my blog: $200. Spread that over hundreds of posts and an average time of one hour per post -- it's not even minimum wage.

Beth Kanter

It all comes back to what your goals or outcomes are - and whether a blog might support those outcomes. And, as Allan suggests - it's a long term investment. I love this recent twitter exchange from the Forrester Conference about ROI of Social Media -

What's the ROI of your business cards?

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