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Lord Kelvin on Measurement


Posted by on September 23, 2009

lord_kelvin_photograph

I wish I could say I found this quote myself but alas Dave Evans send it over to me via twitter as we were talking about…measurement and ROI.  It’s funny to think that the quote below is around 120 years old yet it’s still to pertinent to business today.

“In physical science the first essential step in the direction of learning any subject is to find principles of numerical reckoning and practicable methods for measuring some quality connected with it. I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely in your thoughts advanced to the state of Science, whatever the matter may be.” [PLA, vol. 1, "Electrical Units of Measurement", 1883-05-03]

This quote speaks volumes in terms of the importance of measurement and numerical benchmarking and understanding that organizations need to have.

It’s also interesting that today eMarketer released a survey in which 84% of respondents said that they do not measure any type of social media ROI.

measuring-roi

According to

the survey:

Despite widespread adoption of social media, measurement still lags. Only 16% of those polled said they currently measured ROI for their social media programs. More than four in 10 respondents did not even know whether the social tools they were using had ROI measurement capabilities.”

Granted, the survey didn’t explain how ROI was defined the numbers are still atrocious.  I think a follow up study should be done to find out how many of the respondents are even asked to show a type of ROI to begin with.  It’s a bit hard to believe that person signing the checks for all of these social media efforts isn’t asking to see some form of quantifiable return.

Of course, you can always make up your own little formula and pretend that it justifies whatever it is that you’re doing in the social media space, it seems to have worked for some people.

How are you measuring the ROI of your social media efforts (in terms of dollars and cents)?  Are you even measuring ROI or are you focusing on non-financial impact metrics.  Have you been asked to show ROI by execs at your company?

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