One of the most frequent questions I am asked as a social business consultant is, “How do I measure the value of my internal social network?

With 70% of the Fortune 100 reporting that they have launched an internal social network over the last year, it is no surprise that so many people are trying to determine the best way to measure the value that is achieved from the launch of a new collaboration and communication platform. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. One must take into account a combination of objective and subjective factors in order to understand and measure the true value that an internal social network has to a business. In an effort to provide a simple answer to the question of ROI, I have created a list of tips that will help you gain a better handle on the success and value of your internal social network.

1. KPI’s: Start out by defining your Key Performance Indicators (“KPI’s). You need to understand what your business objectives and goals are for your internal social network before you can attempt to measure them. The business objectives of your internal social network must be closely aligned with the overall business objectives of your company in order to demonstrate true value. Understanding the value proposition of your internal social network is important from the outset. You want to be able to show the impact of the internal community to your business leaders and stakeholders.

2. Reach: Reach is relatively easy to measure and quantify and you should be able to extract this data from any competent digital analytics tool. With reach you are looking at the total number of people that have registered, number of people that have logged in, number of people that have logged-in in the last 30 days, number of groups, average number of posts, comments and likes, average number of followers per user, etc…

3. Engagement: Engagement is also relatively easy to measure and it is of extreme importance. After all, why would it matter if you had 99% of your employees logged in to your internal social community if no one was collaborating with one another or contributing and deriving value from the network? The type of engagement data you should measure includes things like: average number of comments or likes, average amount of time spent on the network by each user, user activity, contributions per user, percentage of contributors, number of downloads or uploads, number of questions, etc…

4. Success stories and anecdotes: Not everything can be measured with data and analytics tools. It is important to conduct employee surveys periodically in order to get a subjective sense of the perceived value of the community to its users. The great thing about conducting these surveys is that in many instances, users will share success stories and anecdotes that are far more valuable than your traditional reach and engagement data. Examples of these are: someone who was able to land a big customer, solve a problem, or locate an internal expert thanks to your internal social network. Or perhaps stories of how an employee was able to reduce the cost or time of a particular business process or task as a result of the social community.

5. Display value through use cases: The most effective way to demonstrate value early on is to start with two or three business use cases that are closely tied to your overall business objectives. If you are able to show success with these initial use cases, these successes will drive home the value of the internal community to those people that are still on the fence. In my experience, starting with some simple but valuable use cases will enable you to demonstrate early success and will also help you in creating internal champions for your future efforts. Start by exploring how each user will benefit from the platform, bring key stakeholders together for meetings and  then start to map out business process that would benefit from the features and functionalities of a social collaboration community.

If you are interested in learning more, here is a good video that provides further insights into the best ways to measure the value of your internal social network.

How do you measure the value of your internal social network? Do you have other ideas or suggestions? If so, please share them here by posting a comment.