Before diving into the use of social media in business, consider the basic measurement methods as they apply to the business use of social technology. Chapter 6 explores measurement and metrics in-depth. As an initial step into the integration of metrics within your social programs, however—and to get you thinking about this aspect of undertaking a social business effort—consider the assessment of participation, applied knowledge transfer, and the measurement of social activity in general as a starting point to a quantitative guide in building and running your social business.
Collaborate Collaboration—sitting atop the engagement process—is the defining expression of measurable engagement. Marketers often speak of engagement: For example, one might focus on time spent on a page, or the number of retries a customer is willing to undergo before meeting with success. Measures such as “returning visitors,” connected to concepts such as “loyalty” are also used as surrogates for engagement.
While all of these have value within the discipline of marketing—and most certainly have a role in establishing efficacy of brand and promotional communications over a period of time—they do not in and of themselves provide a quantitative basis for the stronger notions of engagement as defined in the social business context.
The direct observation of collaboration does. Collaboration between community members, between employees, or between a firm and its representatives comes about when both parties in the transaction see a value in completing the transaction, often repeatedly. The output of collaborative processes—the number of jointly developed solutions advanced in an expert’s community, for example—is directly measurable.
Think about counting the number of collaborative processes that lead to a solution, or the number of shared results. Each is an indicator of the respective participant’s willingness to put effort into such processes. In this sense, the quantitative assessment of collaboration becomes a very robust indicator for the relative strength of the engagement process.
Participation is likely one of the easiest metrics to capture and track. Indicators of participation can be gathered from existing measures—content creation, curation, and the number of reviews, comments, and posts—and can then be used to assess the overall levels of interest and activity within online communities.