There are endless debates in the industry about how to measure social media ROI and indeed even if you can or should. However, these almost exclusively focus on off-site activity on social networks, e.g. what benefits are there from a Facebook page or a Twitter profile.
What is missing are credible statistics that cover on-site social media functionality.
There are a multitude of white label social networks all promising to add varying degrees of social media functionality to your site from simple commenting, all the way to building a quasi social network around your site’s content. The problem is that case studies on the effectiveness of these types of functionality are very thin on the ground.
Specifically, what impact on traffic, site loyalty, ad returns is there by adding the likes of a forum, commenting, profiles, reviews, rating…?
There is the difficult question of how you separate the rating or comment from the post itself. However, you can track before/after introductions of functionality; likewise, you can track the activity on a forum as a separate section of the site. So where are the case studies?
I’ve seen a range of client testimonials from white label social networks, but these by their nature are cherry-picked examples to showcase a service. What we need are credible case studies from sites themselves and from media measurement firms to really demonstrate the case for social media ROI, something that would benefit the industry as a whole in terms of take up of these services.
If these case studies are already out there, great, link to them in the comments. If not, it’s time to start creating them.