social media: Benchmarking the smart way FAQ #2

by Urs E. Gattiker on 2008/08/02 1 views

in a dos and don'ts,b why benchmark successes,c corporate blogging

    Not too long ago we started this series of posts about benchmarking. At the time, I thought readers would inundate us with suggestions and great ideas… WRONG. We got 2 Comments and a few via e-mail. These seemed to indicate that people are aware of the issues, have some ideas….Nevertheless, most agreed that benchmarking effectively is a challenge.
    Hence, while benchmarking of social media is becoming ever more critical, we are ever more uncertain of how to do it properly.
    I will share some more ideas about this below.

Recently I came across an interesting blog post through a tweet I got via Twitter:

During 1965, rarely if anybody used e-mail. Neither was I aware of experts for this ‘new field’ of communication. The e-mail tool became mainstream after CompuServe (now AOL) began to connect its system with the public Internet (primarily used by universities and government institutions) in 1991. Research I conducted during 1981 showed that e-mail was used to communicate with colleagues about work-related issues. Today, both e-mail and social media help you to stay in touch with various groups of people and communicate better or worse with them.

Our 1990 research data indicate that respondents who were e-mail users felt it could be disruptive if one was online during the workday. Respondents felt that a ringing phone was interruptive.

Both, e-mail and telephone can be helpful to stay in touch, communicate but remain a disruptive threat. Similarly, we may be getting new tweets constantly via Twitter due to having decided to follow too many people. If this helps us stay more productive or in fact makes us less effective, is the challenge we have to address and make a decision about.

Some personal branding ‘experts’ would suggest that we take a ‘target audience’ approach when trying to manage our brand, social network and so on. Using a methodical approach, we can determine whom our various reader groups or Twitter followers represent (e.g., possible clients, recruiters, sources for information, etc.). Thereafter we decide whom we must focus upon.

The reason for you to benchmark your blogging or other social media efforts is to see if you are doing well enough compared to others. You want to see if these activities are worth the investment of time, money and other resources (e.g., opportunity costs or what else could you do instead of writing a blog post). Nevertheless, you need to have the right set of blogs or fellow Twitter users to benchmark yourself.
How should you benchmark?

First refrain from comparing yourself against the wrong set of people or blogs. Simply, nobody wants to compare apples with oranges.

Second, based on the above, compare apples with apples and not:

FT Global 500 or Fortune 500 corporations vs. micro enterprises

An index benchmarking blogs from the FT Global 500 is a great idea. Nevertheless, benchmarking a Fortune 500 bank with a medium-sized consumer products manufacturer may not make much sense. Accordingly, there are still issues you may want to consider to attain a set of blogs to benchmark against that helps you improve, such as:

capital goods (e.g., durable goods that are available for use as a factor of production,. such as, machinery or raw materials) against consumer goods (e.g., clothing, food, soft drinks).

It is obvious that a steel producer, such as Mittal Steel, does not need to reach as many customers as a car manufacturer as Volkswagen must. The latter sells its cars as capital good (e.g., if purchased by a hotel to offer limo service to and from the airport to its guests) as well as consumer product (all the people purchasing a car for private use). Its branding efforts are geared toward consumers and those industrial buyers doing fleet purchases.

Therefore, benchmarking a c-suite blog from an Audi executive against one from Mittal Steel or Nokia Research Labs does not necessarily provide one with the information that one needs.

Tip 1: select a set of 10 blogs you wish to benchmark against while making sure that they are similar types of businesses.

Accordingly, using the world’s 10 best-known brands to benchmark a regional pr firm’s blog against does not make much sense. Neither is it helpful benchmarking an individual’s personal blog against a c-suite blog from Sun Microsystems.

These blogs serve vastly different purposes and target audiences, therefore, making benchmarking not that useful.

Bottom Line

The takeaway here for you is this: if you want to benchmark your blog, micro-blogging efforts or other social media activities, choose somebody your size. And even if comparing your Google PageRank to the one attained by a Fortune 500 blog may be fun and interesting, is it fair and, most importantly, will it help in improving your bottom line.

Remember, many indices published online or in print media compare apple and oranges.

Finally, make sure that your benchmarking exercise results in using the results for making a decision about how to spend your future efforts (e.g., what changes are needed and why). Ultimately, benchmarking makes sense only, if it helps in improving your social media or blogging effectiveness. Otherwise, why go to the trouble?

What is your take on this issue?

Please check out:
follow us on Twitter blogging for the bottom line – metrics that work CEO bloggers – ropes to skip – FAQs
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