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May 19, 2008

How do you measure the value of social applications?

by Josh Bernoff

2252496805_e185373c65_2 As you can see in my interview with Jackie Huba, I think the most common mistake made by people developing social applications is this: not focusing on objectives.

Why? Because unless you focus on objectives, you can't tell if you're accomplishing anything. And unless you can prove you are accomplishing something, your project will be cancelled.

OK, then, assuming you have focused on objectives, you should be measuring your results. But what to measure?

Bottom line profit?

Top line -- sales increases?


Click-throughs? Time spent? Page views?

It all depends on what your objective is. I'd like to tell you all the answers but in fact I am researching this right now. This post is just a (slightly) clever way of getting you to help with the research so we can all benefit from each others' knowledge.

So, if you are actually building a social application for your company (or a client) take our survey right here. (If you are already in our interactive marketing panel or have already taken the metrics survey, thank you -- please don't take it again.) When you have completed the survey, we'll assemble it with everyone else's answers. I'll share the highlights of the research with all of you, and those who took the survey will get a copy of the complete results.

How do you measure the value of social applications?

(If you are working on an application and you'd like to tell us more about how you measure it, please email my research associate Scott Wright at swright at forrester dotcom. We'd love to hear from you.)


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Incremental sales and from that tease out costs to get to profit. Always a challenge with channel conflict (online vs. offline sales), so try to do quick online experiments to get to incremental sales first.


Josh, Charlene,
Outstanding book (Groundseell)! I am certain it will go down as one of the most important biz books of the year...or decade I devoured it upon purchase two days ago and have already read through it twice! It confirms and crystallizes much of what suspected about Web 2.0 / social networking. All the best in 2008 and beyond.

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