Social Media Measurement Roundtable: What number of participants and format makes for the best discussion

Yesterday I proposed that we organize a roundtable on social media measurement and metrics. The response I’ve received via comments on the blog post and email has been overwhelmingly positive.

So, let’s move forward with this.

Number of participants 

As a first question, what do you think is the maximum ideal size for a productive discussion? Is it 15, 20, 25, 30?

In choosing the ideal size, I think we need to balance opportunity to participate with the quality of the experience for the participants. The group should be small enough that individuals are able to exchange points of view. On the other hand, if it is too small, we risk excluding participants with valuable perspectives to share.


How about format? My initial thought is that we should have one discussion table for the entire session? Is this a good idea? Or would another format work better? Perhaps a common session to open the day followed by breakout groups on specific topics before reconvening for a general discussion?

Your opinion? 

What do you think is the best size for a discussion of this sort? The best format?

  • My hunch is that the conversation will divide into subcategories. Measuring the effectiveness of a political blog or this blog is very different from measuring results from Coca Cola’s blog. Maybe we start out with a session defining the topics and then break into sub groups. Then there’s another breakout. The measurement of engagement vs the measurement of outcomes. Joe will probably dis-invite me at this rate…

  • I agree with Katie. While I think the bases of measurement will be the same across the board, there’s definitely going to be different ways of measuring success for an advocacy group versus an international brand, or an international brand with a lot of detractors.

    A few small roundtables with the right people would probably yield the most useful results.

  • Thanks Katie and Ryan for your input.

    There’s definitely more interest in this topic than I had expected there’d be. So, your suggestions of breaking the group into a series of smaller issue-specific roundtables during the course of the day makes a lot of sense. Of course, we’ll need to find a way to ensure that all the separate topics come together again early enough that there is adequate opportunity to discuss their interplay and reconcile the various streams of thought.

    So, maybe a general opening session followed by issue specific in depth roundtables in the morning followed by an afternoon with the whole group hearing reports from each of the issue specific tables and then discussing how it all fits together…

    Let’s keep talking about this.

  • It is an exercise in herding cats. I wonder if there’s value to getting agreement to the measurement building blocks and then trying to figure out how and when to apply to particular social media executions.

    Eyeballs, subscribers, comments, engagement, links, so on and so on all mean different things to different people for different reasons.

    Also, measuring the success of your own blog or a client blog will be a very different task than measuring how a brand, company or product is being treated in the blogosphere at large i.e. Dell.

  • I like Dave’s thought of starting at 20,000 feet and agreeing on general measures first. Whether a blog or podcast is trying to motivate a purchase decision or a vote decision, the I think the process of getting there is generally the same, and the potential measures common (engagement, conversation, links, etc.). Let’s start at a very high level so we’re all in agreement before we start slicing and dicing for specific disciplines.

  • Joe… Happy new year… just back in from the holidays so apologies for the delayed response. This is a good idea… and in keeping with some of the earlier comments, I agree that it might make sense – before even considering the “how” – to discuss the “what”: meaning let’s reach some common agreement on the primary drivers or, to use David’s term, ‘building blocks’ of social media measurement e.g. engagement, relationships, conversations. Inherently, we know what each of these mean – but do the current definitions work from the perspective of “measurement”? Likewise, how do factors such as sentiment, visibility, frequency, credibility and relevance play within these building blocks and should one factor be weighted more heavily against the others depending on an organization’s objectives and its approach? A weighty topic indeed.

  • Hi Joe,

    Wow, I’m late to this one. I think everyone above is on the mark – it’s way too big a discussion to do through a single roundtable – multiple sessions make sense to me.

    I’m probably missing something obvious but a flow of sessions like (roughly worded) ‘definitions,’ then ‘measurement options,’ then ‘application to situations’ might work.

  • Jeff Roach

    The Round Table is a great idea. Building the event around social media is a great way to get the discussion going. It’s important to remember, though, that measurement is the last of the four crucial phases in planning. If the upfront homework needed to pinpoint precisely what needs to be accomplished through the communications effort is poor, measurement and evaluation will be poor as well. Too many communications programs are based on assumption that aren’t validatd. The real problems haven’t been identiified and the outcomes are poorly defined because of this. As a consequence the measurement effort, if it is made at all, is poorly conceived and directed. This is a big problem for the profession. You may want to focus some of the session on the notion that good measurement depends on good planning. If you are interested in tyhis, I’d be happy to help.

  • Very late to the party here.

    Joe, thanks for the invite to be a panelist. Looking forward to it.