I’ve been following the back and forth between Amazon’s CTO Werner Vogels, Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. An interesting challenge – provide hard numbers about the benefits of blogging. It’s far easier with websites to understand traffic, how many people have seen it, than any of the other methods of indirect marketing (ie those that are not experiential when you actually count people), but understanding monetary value of an any marketing can be a challenge, especially when it is one part in many. Teasing out the effect of one part of marketing from another, when you are trying to change people’s perceptions, is a difficult art. So providing hard numbers for blogging, especially when it is part of the marketing and communication effort, may not be possible. Or needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. I’ve developed pretty comprehensible, logical, spreadsheet based calculations for the RoI on consumer-facing, product based websites (had to follow the process, don’t you know). But I know that the accuracy was suspect – but I had numbers and a great RoI!
You may not be able to get detailed numbers, and in a lot of cases I think it is too soon to tell, but there is a definite need for some more rigorous case studies to to supplement the change stories (which is to me the greatest benefit of opening up companies) (Update: Shel’s posted more here)
PS – see Hugh’s cartoon for one take on it.