Social Media White Paper “Tracking the Influence” (Factiva of Dow Jones)

I’m pleased to share a white paper I was hired to co-write with Matt Toll of Factiva of Dow Jones. The topic? Social Media Measurement. If you’re new to the concept, or just launched a social media program this white paper is for you.

Download our White Paper: “Tracking the Influence” (PDF)

Traditional Web Analytics are not sufficient to measure what’s changing on the web, marketing is distributed across the world wide web, rendering server logs as only one small portion of what needs to be tracked. The white paper is based upon a roundtable event hosted by Factiva quite a few months ago. I lead one of the key sessions in prioritizing the attributes needed to be measured, there were quite a few thought leaders there, it was exciting.

If you wanted to read the post-thoughts of some of the attendees, they’ve documented their thoughts:

• Chris Kenton: Social Media Metrics
• Jeremy Pepper: Factiva Roundtable and Social Media
• Daniela Barbosa (Dow Jones): Wrapup Post
• Glenn Fannick (Dow Jones): The Day After – My Head’s Still Spinning
• Jeremiah Owyang: Factiva Social Media Roundtable helps to answer “What should we measure
• Images on Flickr of event (over 100)

Thought and Practice Leaders influenced this paper

This was one of the earlier conversations about social media measurement, it was attended by both social media consultants and experts as well as practitioners within corporations. I was right in the middle of a transition moving from one to the next, so I could really relate to both groups. I’m pretty sure this is just a partial list:

Stowe Boyd, Blue Whale Labs
Jory Des Jardins, Co- Founder, BlogHer, LLC;
Nicki Dugan, Editor, Yahoo!’s Yodel Anecdotal
Jeanette Gibson, New Media Communications, Cisco Systems
Ian Kennedy, Product Manager, Yahoo!
Christopher Kenton, MotiveLab
Andrew Lark, Founder, Group Lark
Mike Manuel, Strategist, Voce Communications, Media Guerrilla
Greg Narain, Blue Whale Labs
• Tony Obregon, Director of Social Media, Cohn & Wolfe
Jeremiah Owyang, PodTech
Jeremy Pepper, Social Media,Weber Shandwick / POP! PR Jots
Brian Solis, FutureWorks PR
Ed Terpening, VP Social Media,Wells Fargo, Guided By History

Many thanks to Daniela (her thoughts on the paper), Matt Toll, Saurabh, Glenn, Sally and the rest of the Factiva crew for hosting this event, and seeing this paper through.

Measurement is important to me, as it will help drive adoption of social media in corporations, determine budgets and help those improve. I’ve tagged my many posts, so if you want to learn more, access the social media measurement tag.

  • I’ve already forwarded the white paper to other members of my senior management team. Thanks so much for sharing!

    I’m the one who beats the drum for adoption of social media in my company, so the more ways I have to measure results, the easier time I have.

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  • Jane

    Thank you so much for this!

  • Excellent write up- as usual!

    Thank you for all your knowledge and assistance in making the roundtable a reality and in producing this White Paper. We look forward to having another event in the near future that looks at not only what we learned and how it is shaping the tools we provide but also what has matured/changed in the course of this year.

    Of course like I always tell my customers- The Web-Strategist is the place to go to keep a pulse on what is going on and no one can simply keep up with you. You are a wonderful resource for this community and for that I, among many others thank you!

    I also just updated the orginally Wiki that we used to organize and provide follow-up to the roundtable event:

  • Interesting white paper that puts in place another piece of the jigsaw. Trying to measure the effectiveness of social media is a ‘social science’ akin to trying to measure the effectiveness of employee communications or employee engagement (I’m an internal communicator). Yet the consistently higher quality of thought and conjecture around this topic is stimulating. Not sure what the ultimate aim is – an equation, a chart, a set of questions, a methodology, a way of thinking – but I’ll see you when you get there.

  • Jasbinder

    No one has the complete answer yet either. Earlier this year, we were in the definition stage, now we’re in the ‘process/theory/trial’ stage. We should start to see some concrete examples by EOY from companies.

    I expect an industry index to appear by early 2008 –whoever is first AND right has a big stake in the ground.

  • Now an industry index would be great. Adoption will be the key because corporates love to compare! First and right are crucial: Gallup have made a lucrative market providing a straightforward approach to measuring ’employee engagement’, with the impact being that many companies equate an increase in the score as the aim of employee engagement. Yet many internal commuincators – who will responsible for utilising social media – are not yet sure what employee engagement is, let alone that Gallup is the way to go. The more who are aware of the process/theory/trial, the better.

  • Jeremiah, looks like a great resource and likely the starting point for another round of interesting conversations.

    Thanks for raising the document.

  • I am a SM measurement skeptic, but am all for trying new ideas out. So, after reading this, I applied the only metric discussed in the paper that was in fact applicable, Stowe’s CI. For a nascent company blog that has not been promoted, I got a very pleasing result. Good conversation taking place, pointing toward a bright future (with the attendant “ifs”).

    The rest of the paper was interesting, but when it comes to measurement, as opposed to ‘paths of investigation’ perhaps, you need that number at the end of the equation, that ‘graphable thingfish’ (I believe the mathematicians call it). Or, as Lark called it, “a list of business-related metrics that demonstrate tangible business value.”

    I will attend the discussion as it progresses. As I said earlier, there is a problem with cobbling together metrics on something that is as resistant as a duck is to water. We need, if we’re going to worry about measurements (again, I get to reaching for the Ativan when I hear that word) a credible ways of finding those graphable numbers across the experience, so we can mix and matched based on our companies’ needs.

    Of course, I’m relatively new to this element of the discussion, so I’m still educating.

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  • martin

    love the paper, but- anyone else having trouble printing this?


  • Thank you for sharing this paper which does an excellent job of summarizing the difficulty of measuring the effectiveness of social media.

    I find it ironic though that the text of the report is locked into a pdf file and thus cut off from the indexing and tagging that would allow it to take part of the debate which it is trying to resolve.

  • Ian, I know that Google bots scan PDFs and can deliver the content in search results. So therefore it’s not locked. I’ve seen this occur many times.

  • Curt

    There are operational analytics classes I had to take in Business School (and did horribly) where we had to measure the value of an on campus cafeteria, pro-bono work, and donating to the community. If you can quantify those actions you can likely quantify social media –which all happens on the trackable web.

    The most difficult to thing to measure are humans’ reactions, thoughts, opinions, and tacit emotions.

    Until we have a mind reading tool, we’ll always have this problem –but it doesn’t mean we can’t try –why? As corporations spend budgets on Social Media (the unproven child) then measurement will be required as justification.

    Lastly, she/he who has the measurement –has the power.

  • Martin, let me know what issues you’re having, maybe we may need to issue a print friendly version.

    What’s the challenge?

  • Jeremiah, this will be incredibly valuable to me. Australia is struggling with social computing adoption and having something concrete to use will help immensely.

  • No reason not to try (typed “cry” first-something about Freud). Yep. You can quantify anything. But can you quantify that anything in a way that produces value, that is, understanding? I’m not sure. But I’ll give it the old college cry. (Freud again.)

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  • martin


    The background image comes out as a big black image which covers up all the text behind it…

    The image I mean is the one with the different squares.. although it’s nicely in the background in the pdf the image seems to challenge my printers…

    thanks for having answered, speaks for you! I’m a big fan of this site.


  • Martin, I’ll make sure the right folks see this.

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  • Saurabh


    I have been a traditional lurker on your blog. Here’s my 1st post!

    This paper is a big step forward from where we were a year ago. At that juncture, we were still trying to learn more about social media and its measurement requirements. It was good to meet and learn from the movers and shakers in the space.

    We are actively enhancing our product roadmap to develop techniques and tools that better addresses the uniqueness of social media measurement needs. We don’ claim to have all the answers; however we are listening and participating.

    I look forward to this conversation moving on and stimulating more food for thought.

  • Saurbh

    Your guidance as this space evolves is key, thank you for moving the industry forward!

  • Matt Toll

    Hey Jeremiah

    Finally surfacing after a couple of days at a CRM conference in NY. It’s great to see a lot of participants in the conversation and particularly a few posts from somewhat unexpected quarters. All further testament to the need to understand how to truly measure impact, or reach, or that pesky “influence.”

    What’s the “value” of this paper reaching an audience in Australia, or reaching the legal community, via some of your commenters above? I’d sure like to know, and the more people recognize that this hidden value is truly real, the more critical mass the effort to measure it will gain.

    Look forward to seeing you in SF next month!

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  • Jeremiah,

    Great second-tier start point to bring dabbling companies up to speed, but I think the emphasis still needs to be on what it can do for the company in terms they can understand on the front end.

    When companies are told that Southwest Airlines attributes $150 million in ticket sales to a widget, then they listen. Sure, there are other SM applications, but I think social media is being presented all too often on its terms instead of business terms. The best way to find a social media ROI for a business remains t work from the business out and not SM in, imo.

    All my best,

  • Richard, we’re in alignment.

    Business objectives need to be clearly articulated up front and will guide how measurement will be done.

    See this post I wrote up:

  • I am no longer touring with Blue Whale Labs; I am the Front Man for Stowe Boyd and the /Messengers, now.

  • As I posted here I was one of the folks at the session that spawned this white paper. We went in there hoping to find some good fodder for an accurate way to measure influence on the blogosphere. As far as I’m concerned, we’re still looking. But it might be that there isn’t a way of measuring influence because it’s not something that can even be defined. Or perhaps because it means a different thing to each person there isn’t a practical way of standardizing it.

  • great white paper, thanks

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  • Jeremiah, could you advise if there has been an update or another look at this subject since 2007? Please advise link?

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