Building Your Social Intranet – Step 5 Measure

In the last couple of weeks I wrote some posts describing steps that help you build your social intranet. I’ll round up this series of post in two final posts. The last two steps towards a social intranet are: measure and cultivate your community. This post will address measuring.

As we know from many intranet studies measuring is almost always forgotten. Not many organizations have metrics to know how well their intranet is received and used. In my experience the same goes for social intranets or elements of social intranets like microblogging. This is often directly related to the fact that these intranets don’t have a goal to start with…

I advise you to make sure you measure as much as possible. This is the way to check whether the goals you set are being reached. It also helps you sell the social platform within your organization. Managers will like to know what the return on investment is. Sceptics might be convinced to join if you show them hard numbers. Etc. 

If people measure they mostly focus on hard numbers. Like the number of (active) participants, the number of conversations, the number of page views, how long people stay on the platform, etc. These are good things to measure and pay attention to. However, these numbers don’t really address the value of the platform. And what do these numbers really mean?

I think social intranets are challenging us to look broader. Don’t only focus on hard numbers, but also on the soft ones. They can be just as or even more convincing to fellow employees and decision makers. How can this be done?

When you measure hard numbers, this is done automatically. With an analytics tool for instance. When measuring soft numbers you have to go out and talk to users. Ask them what kind of value they are getting from the social intranet or parts of it. What are they getting from microblogging in a factory or blogging pre-liminary research results? The answers to these kind of questions will never show up in analytics. But… they show the value of the social intranet in a more compelling way. I find they are much more convincing than the hard numbers.

Let me give you an example of a true story. When I asked one person what she was getting from microblogging she shared this story. At a point in time she had to set up a wiki for a project. She was asked to make sure the hard- and software was there and the wiki would work. Before she started ordering, she posted a short update on the microblogging platform. She said: “Going to set up a wiki for a new project I’m working on!” Shorty thereafter someone replied: “Nice and good luck! I assume you know we already have a corporate wiki platform. You can start by creating a wiki page.” Half an hour later she answered: “Really?! Didn’t know that. You just saved us a month in the project planning. Thanks!”

You see? This could never be concluded from statistics. But when I tell this to employees and managers they can’t say this platform is useless.

Do you measure your (old) intranet? And how about your social intranet? In which way do you measure? And are the results convincing to your organization?

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