There are some debates that never have a clear "winner." How to measure success in the Social Media channel looks like it is one of those. There are two clear sides - those who measure success by how involved a brand is in the social spaces (and how much value they are adding to the communities), and those who look directly at the overall bottom line of a company (how much more stuff did we sell?). Don't believe me? Look no further than my Blog posting from yesterday, Conversations Need To Yield Actions Measured In Dollars.
Part of measuring success in Social Media is having the right tools to measure what is taking place. The primary reason this is such a hot topic for debate is because a lot of the tools available to measure what is happening in Social Media are brand new, and nobody has truly figured out what, exactly, we should be measuring.
Some are trying.
When it comes to my world (Marketing, Advertising, Communication and Public Relations), there are really only three places that are tracking which Blogs in that genre are doing what. The first (and biggest) is Technorati (where out of the 120 million-plus Blogs that it tracks, Six Pixels of Separation is #5290). The others are Advertising Age (who run Todd Andrlik's the Power 150 - this Blog is at #54) and Mack Collier's The Viral Garden's weekly Top 25 Marketing and Social Media Blogs (this week #11). All of them use a technology stew of links, PageRank, number of subscriptions, etc.. All are valid, all are interesting but - as you can see - there is no consensus.
Just the other day, I got an email from Melanie Baker who is the Community Manager for AideRSS to let me know that the company is now looking at developing a social engagement measurement tool (I Blogged about AideRSS in late May 2008 - How To Find The Best Content - One Tool To Help You Stop Drinking From The Fire Hose), and that to launch it and get feedback from the community they have taken Mack Collier's The Viral Garden's Weekly Top 25 Marketing and Social Media Blogs and ran their social engagement PostRank API on it.
The net result for Six Pixels of Separation - The Twist Image Blog was a jump up to number nine, but that's not nearly as exciting as how they're measuring "engagement."
According to the AideRSS Blog posting, Storytelling ROI: Social Engagement Metrics For Marketing And Social Media Bloggers:
"At AideRSS, what interests us is social engagement. When content is published online, how are people interacting with it? Reading, sharing, discussing, critiquing — analyzing those forms of engagement gives a true indication of social relevance and influence."
So, it's not just about which other Bloggers link to you or how Google scores the construction of your Blog and the links that drive it.
I think this is more good news for the space. The more tools like this, the more perspective we can have and the easier it will be for Marketers to sit down with their clients and demonstrate some form of ROI beyond the biggest reason why every company should Blog: to speak in a human voice and demonstrate their passion for the industries they serve.
I'd love to see the differing results as AideRSS runs the exact same test on against Technorati and Advertising Age's Power 150.