Archive - Mar 19, 2011

Calculating the ROI of Conferences

Earlier this week, I attended a Health Care Social Media Conference in Jacksonville where one of the interesting presentations was about the ROI of Social Media.  As the main conference was starting, Mark Ragan asked people their level of expertise with social media, ending off with a question about who in the audience considered themselves an expert in social media and perhaps even capable of leading the presentation.  I raised my hand.  I’ve been doing social media from a long time and from many different perspectives.

One of the topics that I see over and over is that of ROI, which I generally don’t think much of.  Yes, perhaps you can ultimately reduce everything down to dollars, and I can see cases where you might want to, but in my mind there are many things more important.

Yet the topic caused me to stop and think, what is the ROI of a conference?  Can you value the pieces of information you’ve gathered and the connections you’ve made?  Perhaps.  In fact, on a few of the levels that Chris spoke about, it is fairly simple.

Chris talked about measuring the number of Friends, Fans, and followers someone has.  It is one of the simplest measurements.  So, using TwitterCounter I went and checked to see how many new followers I picked up during the conference.  I figure it was 44.  Of course, not all of them were attributable to the conference, but it is a good number to work with.

What might be more interesting is the number of new people that I followed.  Given that I’m often pruning the number of people that I’m following, TwitterCounter’s Following graph doesn’t give useful information.  Checking elsewhere, I calculate that I probably followed about 26 people.

Chris drills down a little in his ROI presentation, by suggesting that people also look at Reach, Relationship and Reputation.  Klout is a useful tool for this, and so I checked to see that my Klout climbed from 45 to 50 during the conference.  My PeerIndex climbed from 41, sometime before the conference, to 50.  I haven’t been following PeerIndex regularly and they don’t provide historical data, so I don’t have more specific data.

Chris drilled down much deeper into how you can measure ROI.  The next part he talked about was strength, sentiment and passion.  I’m not sure how to relate this in a quantifiable way back to a conference other than some feeling about how much you value the connections you made at a conference.  In my case, I met some really interesting people whom I look forward to staying in touch with and sharing ideas with, and perhaps that is really the best measure of how good a conference is.

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