How do we measure the ROI on social media, including blogging? I’m asked that all the time by law firm marketing and client development professionals.

Ultimately it’s easy, an increase in legal business. No question that’s the case with a strategic and well run blogging initiative.

I tell lawyers and firms joining the LexBlog network that if I’m not hearing from them at the end of a year that the decision to blog was the best client development decision we ever made, then LexBlog did something wrong. That’s because I hear about client development success all the time, with success being defined as an increase in business.

With social media and blogging being engagement and networking tools it’s important though that there be some interim milestones we can use as a measurement of ROI. We’re dealing with a process that takes time. Cordell Parvin, a nationally recognized career and client development coach for lawyers, says it can take up to two years to reap the rewards of such efforts.

Marketing consultant and speaker, Valeria Maltoni, in a blog post this morning, offers some sound advice for measuring the ROI on social media.

I suggest that performance can and should be measured as part of a process along a continuum designed to expand reach, increase engagement, build influence, and request action on behalf of your business – with social media integrated in the communications mix.

When looking at social media and blogging don’t compare them how to you measure the return on a website. Client development through blogging is closer to going to a Rotary meeting where all the Rotarians are your target audience than web or Internet marketing. And you don’t measure the ROI of networking through civic involvement by looking at webstats.

Ask these questions when looking at the ROI on your law firm’s social media and blogging efforts:

  • Am I expanding my reach? Are more people within my target audience seeing me? It could be via search engines, but more importantly do they see you quoted in blogs and by reporters? Do they see you speaking at conferences or seminars they attend?
  • Am I engaging my target audience of clients, prospective clients, referral sources, and the influencers of those three (reporters, bloggers, association leaders, conference coordinators, and publishers)?
  • Am I building my influence among this target audience? Measure influence by how often you are cited in other blogs, Twitter, and the like. Citations are a measure of whether you’re viewed as a reliable and trusted authority in your niche.
  • Does your target audience request action? Are they asking to talk with you? Do they want to review with you a matter they are working on?

If you’re getting good answers to these questions, you’re headed in the right direction. You’re engaging your target audience, building a reputation in your niche, and increasing your influence. All things smart law firm client development professionals would love to accomplish.

  • This subject is very important. I agree with the questions posed above. Reach, engagement, influence, and action are key metrics. Said in a more “traditional” way, traffic increases, “site event” increases (i.e. comments, downloads, emails, and phone calls), and clients.
    Even though the methods, analytics, and goals may be unique in social media, the core metrics are the same.
    Otherwise, it’s just web-hot-air.