Measuring the impact of a social business project

Hearing about the importance of analytics in social at E2 conference

One theme that's emerging this week at the E2 conference is that simply talking about the benefits of enterprise social isn't enough. You have to find meaningful metrics and you have to measure.

That means more than counting participants--it means tying your social project to tangible business benefits. As Matt Tucker, co-founder and CTO of Jive, put it, "There are all sorts of ways to start a social business initiative. What specific uses cases do you have? How do you measure them and what value are you hoping to achieve?," he asked the audience at a panel on the Social Enterprise at the E2 conference in Boston Tuesday.

And that last question is particularly pertinent. You have to have a grip on what you want to do and why. As Heidi Ambler, director of social business at IBM (NYSE: IBM), told me, companies are looking for a way to understand the value of social in the enterprise.

"The focus needs to be what are you trying to achieve with social and having metrics to measure success," she told me.

To that end, Newsgator has built engagement into the platform, Melissa Risteff, SVP of enterprise engagement, told me. "The framework [for measuring and analyzing] is built on assessment [and an] underlying analytical layer," she said.

In fact, they don't leave it to the customer to do the measuring. They will come in and deliver a report based on 18 elements defining what the customer needs to focus on to really achieve meaningful success in their social project.

As Risteff put it, instead of selling the software and walking away, they put together a change plan to help them be successful--and giving customers these reports as a checkpoint after the sale can help them identify areas that still need work.

However companies do that, tying their social projects to business processes makes it easier to generate metrics, and that lets businesses set goals and measure success or failure on their terms. And that's going to make management much more comfortable with the whole idea if they can apply solid business practices to their social project.

Disclosure Statement: In the interest of full disclosure, I participate in a separate paid blogger program sponsored by IBM's Midsize Business program. It has no connection to Fierce Markets or this coverage.

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