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the Big Blog Company | Metrics, schmetrics - redux
“Who yer callin' a sparrow, you schmuck?!”
The bird on the back.
October 27 2004
Metrics, schmetrics - redux
Jackie Danicki • Blogs & Blogging • Marketing & PR 
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Charlene Li writes on blog metrics:

[I]f a company is going to sanction (or at least ignore the productivity impact) of someone blogging, there has to be a clear, measurable benefit to the company.


While in Paris, I had a meeting with a PR person who was expressing in one breath the opinion (one held by every good marketing and communications person to whom I have ever spoken) that trying to measure ROI for blogs is meaningless and stupid, and in the next breath insisting that “it’s a game we are going to have to play.”

I could not have disagreed more with her, and I could not disagree more with Charlene Li. As we have written before:

Neither businesses nor blogs have reached consistency in the measurement of their influence and authority. By applying the current metrics - as understood by ‘interactive media’ types (hits, clicks, etc) - they are not only one-dimensional, they change the way people see tools such as blogs and other communication media. This is the problem of understanding what communication is all about. Just because you cannot measure something the way you are used to, it does not mean it is irrelevant or even intangible.

And how exactly do you measure affinity and loyalty? You can’t.

Look, if you think that the metrics sham is bullshit, call bullshit. As the Paris PR person agreed with me, a change in mindset is long overdue when it comes to marketing and metrics. You do not shift a mindset by helping to perpetuate it. Do not feed the metrics fetishists.

Li goes on to say:

[I]n the case of tolerating employee blogs, appropriate metrics may be employee satisfaction and retention.

Now how exactly do you accurately measure feelings like satisfaction? I asked this question at a seminar I attended in Paris at the Institut Economique Molinari, where Jérôme Vallée spoke on chapter 2 of Murray Rothbard’s Man, Economy & State, dealing with direct exchange. After the speech, the person next to me was discussing ways of measuring customer loyalty.

“But how do you do that?” I asked.

“Well, you assign values to attitudes, on a scale of one to five or something.”

“In other words, you pull numbers out of your ass.”

This was greeted with a thoughtful nod and a grin. “Well, quite.”

As for companies “tolerating” employee blogs, well, we have written about that before, too.

“Hold on, Jackie,” you may say, “I hate the metrics lies too. But how else do I get clients if I can’t give them the numbers they crave, no matter how pointless and artificial they may be?”

That’s between you and your conscience. In fact, not one of our clients has ever pressed us to tell them what the ROI is going to be for their respective blogs. Do we pick clued-up organisations with which to do business? Absolutely. Is this something of a luxury for us? Absolutely not. tBBC is a young company, and by no means do we have a licence to print money. But we do not play the metrics game, and we never will.

Yes, we have been asked about ROI - once. In that instance, dealing with a monolithic, global brand, we knew way before that question that it would be a difficult company with which to work. (Indeed, we were only talking to them because of a personal contact on the board of directors; this company was by no means low-hanging fruit.) In that case, we refused to play, and the deal never materialised for quite unrelated reasons. But had we played the metrics game and pulled some numbers out of our backsides just to please the corporate boneheads, I don’t think we would have been able to sleep very well.

If any of us wanted to play stupid games with execs who know little about what we do but whose egos we need to massage, we’d go back to working as desk monkeys in companies that are 5 billion light years from the nearest solar system to clued-up. If we can’t do business the right way, a way that is enjoyable and fruitful beyond anything possible in the world of meaningless metrics and lame business jargon, then we can shut up shop right now.

It is not possible to measure the ROI of any of the blogs I have been involved with, and all of the friendships and business associations and deals they have made possible. If you can think of one good reason to pretend otherwise, I will eat my hat.

Link via Steve Rubel

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