How do you measure the ROI on social media? Can you even measure it? At LexBlog we hear these questions often from attorneys who want to know how to measure the success and investment in blogging and other tools.

At the monthly breakfast put on by the Social Media Breakfast group here in Seattle today, marketing consultant Katie Delahaye Paine gave a presentation on this very topic, titled No More Excuses: Yes We CAN Measure Social Media!

Katie (@kdpaine) is known as the "Queen of Measurement" and her company, KDPaine & Partners, measures the effectiveness of both social media and traditional public relations.

You can watch the recording of her talk on the SMBSeattle Ustream page, or view the PDF of her slideshow. But some of the points that are applicable for lawyers and legal bloggers are worth noting right off the bat, including the 7 steps to Social Media ROI.

  1. Define the “R” –Define the expected results?
  2. Define the “I” –What’s the investment?
  3. Understand your audiences and what motivates them
  4. Define the metrics (what you want to become)
  5. Determine what you are benchmarking against
  6. Pick a tool and undertake research
  7. Analyze results and glean insight, take action, measure again

I thought the most interesting points were 4 and 5: in essence, everyone in your organization needs to be on the same page about what success means (or as Katie calls it, "this is how we define kick-butt"). It could be something intangible like building trust or something more concrete like how often your people are quoted on your organization’s key messages. Either way, you will be able to compare yourself to how your competition is doing based on your definition of what is important.

From the perspective of a law firm or company, this means having a strategy and a mutually agreed upon vision before you start blogging and using social media. If you know what you want to achieve, you’ll know what it looks like when you get there. Kevin has written about the importance of social media strategy over tactics before.

Another key take-home point was the amount of time it takes to see a return on social media. As Katie put it, how long does it take to get someone to change their mind or convince them of something? That’s how long it takes to see a return on social media. She estimated at least three to four months as a starting point.

I’d be interested to hear your take on how you already may be measuring your ROI on social media and blogging. Do Katie’s strategies make sense to you?