Okay, I'm open to suggestions, but it seems from the number of comments on my recent rant about the ROI of blogs, we need to get some common language about the different types of blogs and why people have them. For the purposes of discussion, and to guide our CGMDashboard clients to the right measurement solutions we're dividing the type of blog projects as follows:
1. MY Blog Measurement
This approach might use the calculation Kami Huyse is referring to. So for example it cost KDPaine & Partners about $100 a year to maintain this blog and according to Dane Carlson's calculation its worth $25,404.30 yielding an annual ROI of $25,304.30. Not bad. But then I factor in the sales that have come from it, and the relationships that have formed many of which will lead to future sales and the ROI obviously grows. The problem is calculating just how much. And frankly if you Dane tells me my blog is worth $1 million but I haven't created any new relationships out of it, it's a waste of my time. Since the reason I created it was to create dialog and relationships, I'm much more interested in increasing my Conversation Index than my value as an ad site. I have other advertising vehicles that I'd rather have people buy into. And Kami, unless you give me access to your blog analytics, I have no way of knowing the Conversation Index. I could of course look up ever post and count each comment and TrackBacks, but you'd have to do that continuously and the return on all that effort would be very hard to find. (And FYI, our CGM Dashboard is software that organizations use to track their own blogs, not necessarily a service like Nielsen.)
And if I'm John Edwards and I start a blog to help me get my ideas across, change the world and win the 2008 Presidential Primary, I probably don't care much what the Dale Carlson number is. I care how many people donate money to my campaign, or email their congressperson, or do whatever else I ask them to do. As always, it depends on your definition of "Return."
#2 -- Measure my reputation
These are the types of measures that our CGM Dashboard, Cymfony, Intelliseek, Market Sentinel's are doing the most of. People are concerned that a potential disaster (ala DellHell) can erupt and spook customers and/or Wall Street. So they make sure that every mention of their brand is tracked and any hint of a problem is reported. They also use this kind of measurement to listen to customers and find out what's on their minds. There are no hard numbers yet in terms of "eyeballs reached" but there are relative numbers like share of positive comments or share of negative comments relative to the competition.
#3 -- Measure my blog pitching efforts or -- What's it worth to me when Steve Rubel mentions my brand in his blog?
This is where a lot of the controversy seems to be focused these days. There are no "equivalent" numbers like "audited circulation" so into the breach comes "authority measures," measures of linkage and influence and other ways to assess the impact. All great ideas and all important and all a HUGE improvement over AVEs. But as always, there is no magic bullet. It still depends on the audience you are trying to reach. As cool as it might be to get mentioned in Gawker, I'm going to get much more impact and better results from a link to Shel Holtz' blog.
We'll be discussing all these issues on Friday at the New Communications Forum, so stay tuned, I'm sure we'll have new thoughts by Friday afternoon.