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Enterprise Social Networks… Great! But how do You Measure the ROI?

Enterprise social networks… there aren’t many companies in the business world today that doesn’t employ some form of social network, even it is the basics of Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.  Whether it’s a basic form or a more complex solution, enterprise social networks have the ability to change the way an organisation conducts their business, delivering powerful information and a whole raft of benefits into their enterprise:

•    Enhanced collaboration between employees, customers, partners and consumers.
•    Reduces duplication and increases content sharing.
•    More innovation, leading to new products and services.
•    Improved organisational processes, business performance and productivity.
•    Real-time engagement, valuable insights and analytical knowledge.

A social network is no longer an add-on to an enterprise’s business processes, it is fast becoming an essential part of the business and key in remaining competitive, leading to growth and success… great news!  But every CEO, MD, company director, financial director and manager will also need to know how successful, and beneficial, their investment in enterprise social networking is to their business, i.e. what’s the Return on Investment (ROI)?

A difficult question to answer because it’s difficult to measure the success of something that is principally intangible.  According to Mike Green at Kinship Enterprise1, there are both tangible and intangible benefits to a business, which he categorises as follows:

1.    Improved efficiency and business culture through increased engagement, communication, sharing of knowledge across the business and the simplifying of business processes.
2.    Increased revenue from quicker problem solving, increased productivity and innovation, and quicker to-market speed.
3.    Minimising variable costs including emailing, file sharing, training and printing.

But measuring social network ROI is not an easy process, although it is made easier by using integrated business tools, such as SharePoint or Yammer, that are able to measure your social interactions for you.  Now, this provides you with an abundance of ‘useful’ information… analytics and insights.  But unless you know what your organisation is looking to achieve from your social networking and online campaigns, how can you measure its success?  Essentially, you can’t because without a set of goals to aspire to, how can you measure the results?

Yes, technology has moved on to higher and better levels; online and social are the way forward for many businesses, content sharing is key to collaboration, collaboration leads to better efficiency and productivity, and success.  But the basic principles of measuring ROI applied in older, more traditional forms of content management (or marketing, in more general terms!) still apply to online and enterprise social networking campaigns today… All that’s really changed is the media platform.



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