ROI of Business Blogging is not a Myth. Reviewing Forrester’s “Calculating The ROI Of Blogging”

(Left: Thomas Hawk’s photo of Charlene Li)

Reviewing Charlene’s ROI of Business Blogging Research
Charlene Li sent me copies of her recently published Calculating The ROI Of Blogging from Forrester. It also included a PDF A Case Study A Look At The ROI Of General Motors’ FastLane Blog. Given my interest in the topic, she knew I’d give a fair review, and has given me permission to discuss it without giving the document away to others.

Previously, I’ve been very involved in this discussion, earlier this month I stated that corporations still require justification for business blogging (I’ve been talking to quite a few folks in corporations lately) in fact I even stated that you can’t measure the ROI of blogging until you can measure the value of other marketing activities.

How the formula works
Chalene and the Forrester crew did basic operations analysis and applied it to business blogging, it wasn’t too difficult. If you’ve figured out how to measure ROI around other activities at your corporation (such as that onsite cafeteria or dentist) then you should already be able to measure ROI for blogging. Dan Farber sheds some light on how this formula can be applied to any communication medium. (more discussions on techmeme)

Reservations on methodology
It’s not perfect however, as it can’t fully measure (and nothing can) the holistic goodwill and emotional impact business blogging can have to individuals. There are still some folks that throw caution into the wind, be sure to read KD Paine’s reservations and comments on scope of cost. I’ve had debates on ROI for blogging many, many times, and often while on stage.

My unbiased opinion

After spending time reviewing her documents, and based upon my interface with those that are deploying these programs at corporations, here’s my honest opinions on Forrester’s document. Depending on your situation, I recommend and don’t recommend the document:

This document is best suited for:

I recommend this document to corporate folks that need to deploy Business Blogging (like I did at Hitachi) only if you’re at an impasse to prove to upper management. For many corporations, $375 is a small amount of money to pay for the report.

You may not need this document if you have:
Already successfully deployed a social media program at your company, and it’s already deemed a success. Management is pleased with you, and you’re already obtaining more budget. If you’re already able to prove the success of your programs (without having to compare against costs) then you may not need this document, just continue forward. Even if you don’t need to bring to the table an ROI metric, you should still be measuring. Also, this way, if you have a change in management’s opinions, you can apply the measurement over the cost, and spend some time to obtain an ROI metric.

Focus on Social Media Measurement

PodTech’s clients are asking for this, so it’s toward the top of my interest levels. I’ve been very interested in this topic, as I was trying to measure while deploying in my previous corporate role. In my current role as a consultant, many of our clients are asking “what does success look like” and “how do we show this to management”. I’ve also been involved with Factiva and thought leaders from our industry for a roundtable. View all my posts tagged Social Media Measurement.

Thank you Charlene for sharing the report with me and letting me provide an unbiased opinion. Excellent work, Forrester has helped to move our industry forward yet again.