Leveraging the power of citizen engagement to dramatically improve customer service, agency focus and cost efficiency.
What’s the ROI for Citizen Engagement?
September 20, 2010 at 12:58 pm #111223
I was talking to a friend last week and we were debating:What’s the ROI for Citizen Engagement?Our debate was this:-Gov’t has always wanted/need to get feedback/engagement from citizens
-However, there is not necessarily a lot of incentive to get a lot more feedback or reach a lot more people.-Yes, governments technically want it. But not necessarily sure they want to spend extra resources (time/money/etc) to get extra feedback/reachIn contrast to private sector,-All companies want to reach more people
-More people who sign up to their newsletters, view their website, sign up for social media channels…..that’s the more people they can reach to buy their productsDo you see this problem too? What’s the solution? How do you define the ROI?The closest I’ve seen in public sector is Census. They figured that the more people they reach, the more people fill out Census before they send folks to their door, which saves a lot of money.
September 20, 2010 at 3:25 pm #111263
I think there are two issues (at least) in this debate.
First, does reaching more people translate to contributing to accomplishing the desired outcome(s) for the program/process/agency? IF it does, then applying additional resources should be done to the point where there is a breakeven; that is, if additional resources (whether people or money) are applied and the cost of doing so is favorable (a positive return on the resources applied), then it makes sense to allocate resources to increase feedback/engagement. While there is no easy answer to defining the ROI, there are steps that can be taken which assign value to the “benefit” of the outcome the program/process/agency is trying to achieve. Sometimes this comes in the form of reducing cost to accomplish the desired outcome (probably the case with the Census). Sometimes this comes in the form improving the effectiveness of the resources spent, i.e., having more impact (reaching more, reducing occurrence of XXXX disease, decreasing individuals who smoke, etc.) per resource applied. It would be different for different programs/processes/agencies but I believe there are bright people in each agency who could lead the efforts to arrive at performance measurements that would get at the ROI of the people/funds applied so that we could work toward continuous improvement. I believe that it was Peter Drucker who said something along the lines of “what gets measured gets done” (apologies if I don’t have it exactly correct, but you see the point). Sound program management, and sound process management and sound agency management demands sound performance measurement and management. Doing so would be supportive of what the Administration is focused on…avoiding waste.
Second, to me there is the issue of getting people involved and paying attention to what it is that they want in the government that is serving them. It is all too easy for people to point the finger at government (in the macro sense of the word) and decry its failings. But, government serves at the will of the people, so, to me, feedback/engagement to leaders/managers of programs/processes/agencies is critical to improving the government. All of us in government want to create/maintain a system of governing that all Americans can be proud of and, IMHO, feedback/engagement is one approach that contributes to doing that.
October 5, 2010 at 6:41 pm #111261
The ROI is only partly a function of degree of involvement. It is more importantly a function of the degree to which the feedback you receive “points the way”.
I dwell in the world of employee survey work, and am privileged to be the person in our organization who reads the thousands of comments we get accompanying the “checkmark data”. All too often, the engagement we solicit from people, no matter how heartfelt, goes off in a million different directions. This is problematic in several ways. First, there is labour involved in soliciting and processing it. Wasting that time and effort for no visible benefit doesn’t help anybody. Second, people become engaged when they perceive a sincere invitation extended to them. If the feedback you get does not point the way, i.e., is not concretely actionable, then the likelihood of disappointing a lot of people goes way up, and the likelihood of sustaining their engagement, and faith, goes way down. Solicit the sort of engagement you can leverage, and your visible leveraging will maintain their engagement. Basic Thorndike “Law of Effect” stuff ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_effect ).
So what’s the wise thing to do in this case?
First make it clear that you intend to get around to everything, but in service of getting things done and getting them done right, you’re going to tackle one or two things at a time. Remind them of this overall approach regularly. Pursue that defined agenda in a manner that shows pragmatic focus, but isn’t narrow-minded or ignorant of the broader picture. Make it ring true by following up in the fashion promised. Make it ring true by showing results in a timely manner, even if they are only tentative. Do not give citizens a chance to think you’ve forgotten them, and make sure you don’t forget them. Make your initial message ring true by reminding, yet again, that these results are only one step in the desired direction.
October 6, 2010 at 1:50 am #111259
Measuring the ROI of public participation (engaging citizens on decisions that affect them) has traditionally been a challenge, mostly because some of the positive impacts are indirect and often don’t materialize in the short-term.
Things that I’ve seen mentioned when illustrating the pay-off of applying public participation processes in order to achieve more sustainable decisions:
* Savings in time, money and resources (both with regard to the decision making process itself as well as the implementation phase of the project/program under discussion)
* Less risk of project delay, derailment or complete failure
* Reduced risk of litigation
* Less conflict, community friction
* Increase in social capital
* Better morale and increased willingness to cooperate (citizens, government employees, other stakeholders)
* Image gains (e.g. for the convener, decision maker)
Does that make sense?
October 6, 2010 at 3:34 pm #111257
The late Larry Terry, in his short-but-inspiring book “Leadership of Public Bureaucracies: The administrator as conservator” (the google link to the e-readable version is way too long, so I’ll just say to look it up), makes the distinction between the authorities and authoritativeness of a public bureaucracy/agency of any kind. The authorities are those powers given to it by law. But it is the perceived authoritativeness of the institution that really greases the wheels. The prevailing sense among all possible stakeholders, be they other agencies, legislators, the private sector, or citizens, that THESE are the folks that best understand and oversee domain X, leads to greater buy-in, easier cooperation and compliance with any regulatory powers, and achieving the mission in consistent fashion.
The real strength of Terry’s book is in the manner in which it meticulously pays attention to all the things you have to consider, as leader, to foster that perceived authoritativeness. Some of that is knowledge transfer. Some is your HR and HRM strategy. Some is your communication and messaging, plus a whole whack of other things. But a big chunk is the way one approaches interaction with stakeholders. You can’t wander too far afield from your mission and still be seen as THE credible source. That’s why Terry employs the term “conservator”; staying on course, and true to the agency’s mission and identity.
So, citizen engagement CAN increase the perceived authoritativeness of a bureaucracy if it can create the impression that “These folks have not only been on this file for decades, but they have heard ME and MY concerns as well. That makes them real experts. So whatever they propose, I’m gonna give it serious consideration.” But again, following Terry’s caveats, your perceived authoritativeness depends on your focus. Engaging citizens willy-nilly about seemingly disconnected things in a tangential way will yield very little useful return. Remember, it is not just the act of consultation and civic engagement; it is the manner in which that engagement is able to filter throughout the organization. If the citizen feels you’re connected to them, the returns are high. If they feel they are simply attached to you like some barnacle on the hull, don’t expect the returns to be that great. Their willingness to grant you that authoritativeness depends on tangible evidence that they were heard, not just given a chance to speak.
October 7, 2010 at 2:42 pm #111255
This is a great start of a discussion related to citizen engagement and defining the types of engagement that makes sense to engage citizens and ROI.
I will try to contribute some discussion points related to Citizen Request/311. Most recently there has been a push to have citizens report infrastructure related issues through “a system” using 311, 511, iPhones or web-based work order management systems that are integrated or not with municipalities or emergency management systems. There are so many private companies creating systems out there now leveraging all types of technologies, different pricing, different complexities, political hurdles, etc. These creative private organizations are attempting to connect their data forcing municipalities to address citizen reported issues either through a collaborative public/private partnership or simply reporting and logging the problem for future use and analytics for specialized reports, insurance, media, attorney’s, public opinion, etc. I think these companies are trying to create new methodologies to generate revenue and sharing those revenues with the various cash strapped agencies. What are your thoughts on this? How are companies making money and how does it benefit municipalities and their decreasing budgets when so many requests are being reported?
Also, I have seen organizations similar to Waste Management and Power Utility companies offer citizen’s points for recycling their goods or monitoring their power usage. These companies offer citizens access to a web-based account to convert those points to exclusive savings coupons or cashing in their points for goods and services. – I think that is an excellent way to engage a citizen or customer. I would image that the ROI on the point system would increase recycling thus allowing the recycling company to offer more converted materials to manufacturers of products. The follow-up newsletters to keep citizens or customers engage could be interesting from a sales and marketing perspective.
Just this past year, I myself leveraged an idea management system (beta) on my domain http://www.citizenrequest.com to capture ideas by subject, allowing people to rate the most important ideas and those ideas with the highest ratings could be addressed by the agency that’s ultimately responsible. This beta system replaced a work order management system we had so that we can seek out the most important ideas/requests that are important to citizens, measure and assign them appropriately. Some information submitted to the idea management system is also connected to our Twitter account @CitizenRequest – This will help us understand Citizen needs from the perspective of a mobile crowd at a major event. The Twitter account twitter.com/citizenrequest allows users of Twitter the ability to immediately report issues with links, pictures, videos, etc. and reports are relatively available to all immediately. – Essentially a 511, 311, Citizen Engagement and Request System Free and Easy to use. I have no idea how I can generate an ROI on this free use system just yet but I do have some ideas on a list just to keep me employed to pay bills. If you have any suggestions, let me know.
So, I really think there is a lot to learn about engaging citizens and figuring out how an initial request can be converted into a ROI. There are so many categories related to citizen engagement and each category would have to be thoroughly investigated to determine the potentials in a public/private ROI engagement that is why I like the rating system myself.
Lastly, I recommend reading some materials at icma.org related to 311 systems and Citizen Engagement; very useful case studies.
Citizen, Citizen Request, Citizen Engagement, 311 Works, Online Marketing, Citizen Rewards, Public Works Agency, IMCA
October 7, 2010 at 7:46 pm #111253
Great post, Carlos!
One of the best aspects of it is that you don’t treat citizen engagement in monolithic fashion. Rather, there are specific applications where it can serve well. Monitoring of infrastructure is a fabulous example. I would not expect citizens to substitute for food inspectors. And while I would not rely on citizens to do “deep” inspections of infrastructure, certainly they are able to report, without bias, when there is a clearly discernible problem, in between regular inspections. No government can afford to have armies of inspectors checking everything weekly, so why NOT turn to citizens to fill in the gaps?
Again, the notion is “Is there some value that can be added here, by engaging citizens?”. That moves it from mere buzzword, to tactic.
October 7, 2010 at 8:21 pm #111251
The government has multiple goals, monetary or fiscal efficiency being only one. As a government employee I have a committment to provide an opportunity for all members of the public to engage in a dialogue about policies, programs, and services. True, there are many cases where effective engagement will increase efficiency in the provision of services or reduce legal or political risk. More important is understanding the difference between government and commerce, the public and customers, as it applies to engagement and dialogue.
October 11, 2010 at 4:10 pm #111249
Hi Mark, I thought citizen engagement in general. There are many types of citizen engagement, I would think that maybe you might be interested in offering news and stories that citizens can relate to with the GovLoop offering for example Government Spend/Watch Dog related materials.
There is a huge conference going on tomorrow that might interest you. I have a ticket if you want to attend for tips.
“FedTalks 2010 will bring the most influential government leaders, technology executives and media giants together to discuss “How technology can change government.” The full agenda and other event details can be found at: http://www.fedtalks.com. ”
Carlos V. Roman
October 14, 2010 at 2:37 pm #111247
I think this is a good debate. I don’t take as a truism that Gov has always wanted feedback or engagement from citizens. Needed? Personally, I believe government needs citizen engagement to be relevant to its constituency (read: stakeholders). You just can’t solve a lot of problems for stakeholders without them being part of the conversation.
In the private sector, all companies want to reach more people — to market to them. There are a few big successes in the private sector that include their customers in company changes. Proctor & Gamble, for example, basically socializes product R&D to their customers with a variety of incentives (extrinsic and intrinsic) with a model that looks a lot like the MIT/DARPA Collective Intelligence winners (the Red Balloon contest from last year?). Socializing their R&D not only engages their customer base, but it saves P&G millions of dollars. That’s only one example of how engagement works in a tangible ROI sense.
My sector of government is Applied R&D for learning technologies. I can tell you that we’re looking at this kind of engagement model very intently. We have very big problems we’d like to go after and we don’t have all the people we need to do it in our own ranks. Considering the history of what’s come out of our particular program has impacted the enterprise and academic sectors, in terms of training technologies, bringing in a diverse range of stakeholders is, imho, how we’re going to be able to get anything big done and adopted.
October 14, 2010 at 3:28 pm #111245
Generally speaking, the gov’t needs to view ROI in terms of intangible value, as I see it. Credibility, public perception, and the like. If we’re talking monetary ROI, as a private company most often would, we would often be upside down. The true value of any gov’t provided service is greatly reduced by the total investment to provide the service.
The current administration seems to be struggling with this very problem. The more the talking heads come out and speak, share information, try to tell a “good news” story, the public seems to not believe the story, as factual evidence reveals many contradictions. The ROI appears to be negative when considering the intangible value being sought.
October 14, 2010 at 3:35 pm #111243
Yep. It’s an intangible asset – trust in government.
For direct citizen service like DMV payments, property taxes, etc – there can be a direct line in ROI of costs
October 14, 2010 at 4:04 pm #111241
Yes, intangible asset. Trust in government would be good but I don’t think that will happen anytime soon.
I think if you allow citizens the ability to report, discuss openly and vote what needed to be improved upon, that would be a fair solution; at least most of the people will have their input… like elections.
As long as the communication is transparent and people managing the information are accountable and responsible. From a monetary standpoint, I think citizen contributions to the engagement should be awarded in many ways like points, badges or certificates of appreciation. Organizations contributing to the engagement should have the ability to receive points, badges and certificates as well and opportunities for marketing. The individual or company that provides this type of engagement would have to figure out the potential branched revenue model and ROI. This is not an easy task but do-able…
For GovLoop citizen engagement, I would like to see Gov News for Citizens, Watch Dogs Articles and Alerts, Transparency Updates, Dashboard Analytics for Public Spending and possibly integration of other news like Huffington Post, CNN or FoxNews (a balanced approach to news).
Carlos V. Roman
October 15, 2010 at 1:53 pm #111239
I fully caveat that I am likely too naive to what we can really accomplish through government and I’m an optimist, even if I’m a skeptical optimist.
I read “intangible asset” as an acknowledgement that what we (however you define “we”) can work on together is greater than anything we could do on our own. Tackling wicked problems like unemployment, energy production and consumption, sustainability, public education, cleaner air, cleaner water, infrastructure improvements, transportation, sustainable and scalable agriculture… the public, be it a commercial sector or private citizens, can only do so much in any given working environment. If you think of the nation as one giant organization, there are lots of arbitrary (and physical) barriers to work through. Government can help set policy, hold meetings, provide infrastructure support to remove or at least work around such barriers.
I’d like to set the goals for citizen involvement to a peak where they are in deed “owning” the solutions created in partnership with government, because (and this is not meant to be political in tone) citizens “own” those solutions by electing officials, paying taxes that fund such solutions. We certainly need to allow for a broad range of engagement (adding joy and removing pain from taxes, fees; making voting easier; continually raising awareness of what’s happening in our agencies, our branches of government, etc) — but I also think we need to look at the abundant opportunities we have for everday citizens and government to both win from the ability to draw in a diverse group of experts to tackle big and really big problems.
October 16, 2010 at 2:29 pm #111237
Folks reading this post may be interested in a recent study that looked at the outcomes from public-government decisionmaking in 12 different countries, including the US. This is another way of thinking about ROI, in that organizations of all kinds usually engage with people in order to accomplish some kind of result.
The study was based on interviews with 66 public administrators, elected/appointed officials, NGO leaders and public participation practitioners, all with responsibility for engaging people and was funded by the International Association for Public Participation and the Charles F. Kettering Foundation. See the study at http://iap2.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=450. (You can download reports by country there.)
One of the three research questions looked at outcomes from participation/engagement, and it was fascinating to see the diversity of these responses across the countries; it also was particularly intriguing to see what the cultural context of a particular country or region meant for how/why it engaged with people around decisions.
All that to say, what’s considered ROI or outcomes from participation/deliberation may vary across countries/regions based on cultural values, traditions and histories that are unique to each place and that then are reflected in the social, political and institutional dimensions of engagement for that place.
Involve UK has done some work in this area too, see http://www.involve.org.uk/the_true_costs_of_public_participation/.
I guess I would also politely challenge the idea of ROI itself, as a term, in that it seems to coldly imply a very cost-benefit approach to engagement. As some other posters have noted, some costs-benefits are not easily defined or captured.
I would propose that we consider engagement not from an economic standpoint alone; rather, using other frameworks can allow us to account for outcomes that do not fit per se into the cost-benefit approach.
Some other frameworks in addition to cost-benefit might be:
• Political framework: Is there evidence that democracy as a system has been strengthened through engagement? Is there evidence that people are participating actively in deliberating about key issues that affect us as a country or community?
• Management framework: Is there evidence that an agency, program or issue area is being better managed as an outcome of engagement? Is there evidence that engagement has resulted in people confirming proposed decisions or program/service goals or in changes that have meaningful impacts?
• Sociological framework: Is there evidence that people have come together to address common challenges in ways that further our identity as a democratic people?
• Etc etc
Beth Offenbacker, Ph.D. (director of the IAP2-KF study and co-author of the report with Shareen Springer and Leah Sprain)
October 16, 2010 at 2:51 pm #111235
“I guess I would also politely challenge the idea of ROI itself, as a term, in that it seems to coldly imply a very cost-benefit approach to engagement. As some other posters have noted, some costs-benefits are not easily defined or captured.”
Well said, Beth.
A few years ago, I reflected on attending a conference (Learning 2007) with Doug Lynch, Wharton School of Business speaking on how ROI was a false pretense in terms of “learning.” Learning is the general field I play in, but my thesis is that many efforts of principally public interest share the same challenges as learning does with notion of ROI.
If you can buy that, I’ll reapply some of what was in my learnings from Lynch here.
Lynch suggested that there are ways to deconstruct the intent behind ROI in favor of “evidence of impact.” Impact is contextual to organizations, which makes it messy in some ways, but a lot easier to support in others. This is consistent with what we’re now learning since 2009 about collective intelligence, particularly with what MIT is doing in terms of collaborative innovation networks.
In terms of evidence of impact vs. ROI, Lynch asked…
- What level of sophistication do you need in terms of understanding evidence of impact?
- What tools do you use to gather evidence of impact?
- What tools do you use to analyze performance / learning?
- Do you use any methods to evaluate implementation in addition to the intervention?If so, how?
The idea behind ROI is that it is a number that is monetized. We define it, measure the costs and the benefits and then monetize it. Are these things easy to do? No, they’re not. Stock price is a net-present value of what the company is doing today and it’s speculation on how it will do in the future. Stock price also gets at some other things that are going on — like a company’s performance in relation to the rest of the market.
For us to say that we have impact in the context of ROI, we need to have control of everything that’s going on. To use ROI as a measure of learning’s impact, we’d have to control the entire market and factor non-related issues out — everything from competitive advantages, the cost of raw materials, fuel costs… you get the idea. And even if you could factor those things out… you still have to factor out all the human-factors to filter down to just Learning’s impact on an organization.
And, that’s just on “learning.” Government is bigger, it’s both inside and outside the organization. Even to focus on one particular sector of government impacting one particular sector of the population requires us, if we’re going to stick with “ROI,” to account for all the other Government and market forces that might impact the audience we’re looking at, big or little.
October 16, 2010 at 3:50 pm #111233
Excellent referral links, I will check them out and respond later…
Carlos V. Roman
October 16, 2010 at 7:37 pm #111231
Alice M. FisherParticipant
This is a great thread. The ROI of social media and the value of a conversation is an ongoing debate.
I hope you all don’t mind if I play in the sand box a bit with a bunch of various thoughts.
How do you measure the value of conversation?
Do you liken it to the cost per minute …of say a phone call? Or by some other standard?
Complicated at best, ehhh?
Physically engaging now, talking online and offline, and then any resulting future actions are all different forms of engagement. Right? Defining variouls levels of engagement might be a first step.
Although there’s no standized formula quite yet for measuring the ROI of word-of-mouth (WOM) or social marketing, there are some factors to consider.
The seeds have been firmly planted through press coverage, trend reports and media analysis; buzz builders are among us; governement, businesses and marketers are all drinking the word-of-mouth Diet Mt. Dew version. In particular, word-of-mouth or citizen engagement has proven to be a valuable way to reach the over-stimulated, ever-changing, often elusive, yet ready-and-able-to-spend 13- to 25-year-old audience. Media buyers and marketers alike are scrambling to get an aggregated WOW engagement measurement program while it’s hot, but are constantly dealing with one small hitch.
Nobody is quite sure how much it is valued or what it costs, in resources and time, etc. etc. etc.
“What is the value of a conversation?” is a common and fair question. We do this in the communications industry for example, a discipline marked by numbers and formulas developed to justify media spends so many dollars per column inch.
As 360-degree marketing and communications straddles aggregation of analytics and social behavior, the keepers of the budgetary keys are trying to figure out what to pencil into the value of the elusive word of mouth (WOM) engagement line.
Essentially, online social media listening and offline word of mouth tracking have essentially been two parallel universes.
Similarly, media buying agencies know how to calculate the value of a banner ads, pint column inches, broadcast radio and TV…which in part takes into account the number of eyeballs or ears seeing the ad, whose eyeballs they are, what/where the content is placed.
Is there a standard formula for word-of-mouth? Not yet, but I think we are getting closer in the communications industry.
Methodologies were previously being developed to try to figure out the value of conversations on a CPM basis. I don’t think that will worked so well. Why? Well how do you measure some of the following components of engaged people based conversations?
Whose word is more valuable — Britney Spears’ or your best friend’s? If one of my colleagues tells me she loved ‘Spanglish,’ but the New York Times tells me it’s more vapid than ‘Daredevil,’ who am I more apt to believe? Depends on your personal lense/frame of reference. The first way to value a word-of-mouth interaction is by considering its relevance to the individual. The more honest, pure and trusted the conversation is, the stronger the impact. All of these interactions may be valuable, but their interactions are valued differently.
According to research conducted by the Consumer Electronics Association in December 2004, 72 percent of teens wanted what their friends have ( I don’t think that behavior has changed to much over time) So, it’s worth a lot to inspire a conversation between two people who have a lot of friends, isn’t it?
Media buyers ask themselves, if Nike can reach the quarterback of the football team right before practice with a message about a new high-performance cleat, how many banner ads does this equal? Within the word-of-mouth industry, marketers have a range of methods for identifying the most connected, most active, most influential individuals in a group. As an industry, we’re striving to articulate our methods clearly so they can indeed contribute to the valuation of the conversation.
In order for a conversation to make sense, it must be contextually relevant. Think about it, if you’re a teenager hanging out on gaming sites all day long, you’re much more apt to talk to your friends about a new artist with a track in your favorite game than a new sandwich at Burger King. As marketing and communcations professional we are trying to place a value on a conversation, it’s vital to consider where, how and for how long the conversation is taking place. The conversation over time. Are people mentioning the product in passing or raving about it in their blogs? Are they in an environment where a purchasing decision is top-of-mind? Is the content consistent with the context? How long does the context of a message last?
If the communicator is the same, are conversations in person still considered more valuable than conversations taking place over the phone, on blogs, in print, in a social network such as this? Are people generally more engaging face-to-face than they are on the phone?The same could be said of phone conversations vs. online chats. Email endorsements are great, but on the whole are they less of an impact and therefore, less valuable than verbal conversations? Online conversations?
Or are we just getting mired down in to much blah, blah, blah in trying to figure out the $$$ value of an engaging converation?
The industry seems to not have developed a formula to value conversations, until maybe just recently.
I can’t tell you to take three parts authenticity, one part connectivity and 1.5 parts content and multiply it by a $30 CPM to figure out your ROI, but at least we’re closer, as an industry, to figuring out what the formula’s ingredients are. As a whole in the communications industry, we need to pay close attention to: authenticity — who is talking to whom and for what reasons, connectivity — how many conversations actually occur, context — why is a given community talking about your product, and lastly, medium — where are these conversations happening?
As a test, right here …right now what I would like to propose to you all to do is apply some ROI to this entire debate, and the extended word of mouth converation? How might you do so?
Try to quantify the bottom-line value of each conversation with some new out of the “box” thinking.
Value of time, the number of people engages and the unique referrals or action over time across all social media channels.
For exampl,e if you take a persons “life expereicne value” with some number across the outreach timeframe with some kind of diminishing generations of time and denote it by a depreciated value over time (Generation 0, Gen 1, Gen 2, Gen 3, Gen 4 value). this takes into consideration one person’s LTV across a time continum of some sort…
The WOM inputs are collected/aggregated by some sort of Chatter Box analytics platform.
See the chatter boxes I built to track certain engaged conversational topics using OMGili.com to see what I am generally talking about. http://unlimitedpr.net/BuzzTopics.html
The inputs potentially would be generated by some rate value (i.e the number of people told from Generation 0 to Generation 1, Generation 1 to Generation 2, etc.), which is a measure of reach, as well as generational “value”/purchase/ad rate (the percentage of people who report engaging, doing, or acting, orpurchasing the product or service at each generation). In theory, I could input in to those topics a informational link to materials for the public and watch my buzz metric meter to see if people engage and how many over time,, and track the actual link from Bit.ly as well
The value of each conversation, or “conversation value”, could calculated by combining the life time value ( in my chatter box examples, over 3 days, 7 days or 30 days…or longer monthly, semi annually, annually) and WOM referrals value and dividing this by the number of conversations with the unque number of people who engaged.
The “net present conversation value” would be then computed by subtracting what ever the costs for the marketing/HR/Outreach initiative were to develop by both direct labor cost and indirect labor costs from the conversation value figure.
You end up with a dollar amount, like $1.20, for example, and this number means that each time a person had a conversation with a new person as part of a marketing/communication or outreach initiative (whether it’s an advocacy or influencer WOM program, or a more traditional event marketing or sampling program) the company made or got an ROI of $1.20.
The value could be a negative number as well which means the initiative failed to generate a positive ROI. Companies can track this number over time and work to optimize their initiatives in order to increase their engagement or conversation value.
I am thinking out loud btw with all of this…and I have loosely followed this subject with some interest since about 2005 or 2006.
I end with the fact that this rambling what I posted about is not my original thinking. And this concept has evolved….of course over time….(no pun intended).
And, indeed there are aggreation social media tools now and what is needed is concept is some algorythm or ap to do it.
I do believe there are finally a couple of firms out there who are doing just that, which I recently came across.
Even with the growing proliferation of online social media and the mobilution conversations, an estimated 80 percent of word of mouth still occurs offline….but there does also appear to be a relatively new mobile-enabled media tracking solution that allows real-time measurement of consumer exposure to any type of brand touchpoint, including word-of-mouth and traditional media.
October 16, 2010 at 8:21 pm #111229
Well, lets say for example a work request for filling a pot hole or replacing a street sign. In the age of the dinosaur process methodology – low tech (2009), I gather the steps were far reaching more so than the example I give below – small scenario to baseline ROI:
1. Citizen complaint (Phone Call, In person or Writing – snail mail)
2. Agency receives complaint and re-writes on three part form or enters into MS Excel spreadsheet
3. Daily and weekly review of complaints to assign to a field technician who will verify the complaint in person
4. Load up resource(s), vehicle, equipment, materials and fuel to drive to the location not to mention all the insurances needed for the resource, equipment and materials
5. Schedule a visit to the complaint area – NO GIS available
6. Perform a damage assessment and write it on a 3 part form, take a picture, make a few calls to supervisor, coordinator and 3rd party suppliers
7. Drive back to agency, drop off the form in a box of complaints that will be data entried by the assistant/coordinator in Excel
8. Have meetings again to determine valid complaint and costs of replacement
9. 3rd party vendor bid procurement to replace the items in the complaint and to satisfy the citizen
10. Procurement process timeline, get 3rd party to fulfill work order
11. 3rd party fulfills work order and expects payment for services
12. Payment issued
13. Citizen is contacted to inform them the complaint is closed
14. Citizen is happy and engaged will participate more (tax dollars well spent?) hmmm
Well, with technology, many of the steps in this process can be eliminated which would improve the operational efficiencies of an agency.
If we are looking at ROI closely, I would consider each step in the process (1-14) a baseline to ROI. The money spent on that step vs money saved through the use of technology that can either be developed in-house, available for free or purchasing a comprehensive system that connects to various enterprise accounting systems for budgeting and allocating public spend – yikes. Now, if I am saying that one step in this process can be considered a baseline to measure ROI, a whole heck of lot can be done to analyze each step in the process and baseline that process to measure the performance of an agency which I think will ultimately determine the ROI after many tests and adjustments.
Now given that the agency using technology was tech savvy and treated their agency as a private business. These agencies can leverage corporate sponsorships and generate revenue from that. I believe Atlanta, GA is now doing this with State Farm sponsorships on highway vehicles and various street signs. Going back to my process steps, if we were to modify one of the manual processes to include corporate sponsorship, the 3rd party vendor could be responsible for the creation and placement of the new sign but the agency can request that the sign has a corporate sponsor logo saying “this sign is sponsored by Apple” and the agency can reap the benefits of corporate sponsorships simply by revamping a single step in the process (even without technology). Amazing things can happen to a ROI if we sat down to research, create baselines, test and adjust.
I hope what I said makes sense…
Carlos V. Roman
October 26, 2010 at 1:33 pm #111227
Hot off the presses:
May 25, 2012 at 4:53 pm #111225
Just wanted to give people on this thread a quick heads-up that we will be diving into the topic of ROI specifically as it relates to public participation (involving citizens in decision making) at the upcoming 2012 North American IAP2 Conference, September 30 through October 2, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
See my blog post here: 2012 IAP2 Conference: Let’s Talk Public Participation ROI!
This will be a collaborative effort, and I invite you to get involved. We may do a first group call as early as June. Ping me if interested. Thanks!
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