Are organizations beginning to coalesce around the social Web?

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From left to right: Katie Paine, Trey Pennington, Marshall Sponder and Alistair Wheate at Monitoring Social Media

As social Web monitoring and engagement have grown to become predominant topics of discussion in public relations and marketing circles over the past couple of years, are other parts of organizations eyeing this evolution as well? That was the topic of a panel discussion at the Monitoring Social Media conference in New York. Panelists and attendees seemed to agree that if not, uncertainty about how to measure return on social media investment and internal turf battles are the biggest barriers.

Consultant and writer Trey Pennington pointed out that in senior management, any statistics that are difficult to tie directly to financial results are often met with a skeptical eye. “Financial metrics, in the boardroom, that’s all that matters,” he said.

Measurement expert Katie Paine disagreed. “The board doesn’t only care about money. They care about reputation a lot,” she said.

It can be a puzzling task to attempt to determine how your social media efforts have impacted the overall discussion about an organization or product, said Alistair Wheate, senior consultant at Glide Technologies. “It’s very difficult to disentangle what you’ve done with the combined effect of what we’re looking at,” he said.

Marshall Sponder, senior analytics associate at WCG, thinks it’s possible to draw those connections, but any monitoring tool needs insightful, discerning eyes on it to connect the dots. “There should be a deep dive into one or two things that are interesting each month. You’ve got to give people real hours to do this that aren’t being pulled at by 5 or 6 different tasks. That’s rare,” he said.

Marshall, who blogs at WebMetricsGuru, will join me on Nov. 16 for a new Cision webinar, Measuring Who Matters: Using Engagement Metrics to Identify the Most Relevant Social Media Influencers. It will be the second in a free series, the first of which, Under the Influence: Identifying and Targeting the Social Media Influencers Who Can Make or Break Your Brand, will be presented by my colleagues Heidi Sullivan and Andrea Weinfurt on Nov. 11.

What do you think? Are groups and departments within your organization beginning to come together on how to measure the social Web?

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