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Forrester’s ROI Blogging Framework May Suggest GM FastLane Blog Needs More Justification

Charlene Li writes about the ROI of blogging and provides a framework for measuring the ROI of a company’s blogging efforts in her post, “New ROI of blogging report from Forrester,” the post is a companion to Charlene’s for fee report, “The ROI Of Blogging,” published by Forrester, cost $379.

I did not pay for the report so I was not able to give it a review, however, Charlene did provide an image of the list of benefits you can use to determine if your blog is going to achieve a return on investment.

Any company should go through a blogging assessment to determine if their company has the resources available, and the support to blog; plus its important to analyze your industry’s blogging community before jumping in with a blog. Charlene’s report provides some metrics to companies in the process of conducting an assessment of their blogging potential.

I think most companies will want to know if any marketing or communications dollars will produce a return on investment, that is part and parcel of the marketing budgeting process. If you are a marketing manager, how often have you had to go to your vice president or the president of your company and give a justification of your spending? The metrics provide some tools for doing that. I also talk about these issues in one of the chapters of my book when I discuss blogging assessments.

In addition to the report Charlene Li has developed a case study on the General Motors Fastlane blog.

I actually find the GM blog a strange choice for a case study on the ROI of blogging. The GM Fastlane bloggers rarely if ever answer any comments from blog readers directly in the blog. While specific customer service questions might be routed to another department, general design suggestions and questions are not directly answered on the blog. General Motors gives the impression the company does not answer comments or act on comment on the blog in general. The executives certainly do occasionally answer comments, but the overall impression for some blog readers is that General Motors does not answer them. In several posts on the blog, executives from General Motors explain that the company is not able to answer all of the questions and comments from readers, however most blog readers don't read those posts. I have chatted with a few of the General Motors FastLane blog readers and most were not happy with the lack of response, and had become rather discouraged with General Motors.

Here's a listing of all the articles I wrote about General Motors on my old blogsurvey blog in my former role at Backbone Media, I think these articles give some good insight into some of the issues with the General Motors blog:

A Quick GM Response Can Produce More Satisfied Blogging Customers

The GM Report Card From David Kline Get's It Nearly Right

Using 'Synthetic Transparency' to set Expectations on the level Of Transparency Found On Your Corporate Blog

The GM Blog: Lessons For Customer Blogging Relations

An Interview With General Motor's Best Customer

GM Customers Provide Critical Analysis of the General Motors FastLane Blog

Charlene Li lists one benefit from blogging as the "Reduced impact from negative user-generated content".

In the case of General Motors, the company does not appear to be answering blog reader comments directly in the blog, this gives the appearance to the public that the company is not interested in conversation. When the opposite may be the case, my advice to General Motors has been to change this situation, either answer more questions, or set expectations in every comment post that you will not answer questions. Because it appears by not setting expectations the General Motors blog is generating negative word of mouth for General Motors. I wonder if Charlene accounted for this negative word or mouth issue in her study?

Steve Rubel has an article on the blogging ROI report and case study, and must have seen the reports, here an interesting quote:

“Forrester also published supplemental material where they take a closer look at GM's Fastlane blog. Forrester estimates that GM saw 99% return for 2005 for its investment in blogging. In other words, the GM Fastlane blog generated $578,000 in value on an investment of $291,000.”

Lastly, if I were to use the Forrester ROI framework, one aspect I would put into the measurement is to check that my word of mouth marketing efforts have been effective, hence the title of this blog post, "Forrester’s ROI Blogging Framework May Suggest GM FastLane Blog Needs More Justification". I wonder if Charlene accounted for the negative word of mouth marketing generated by the GM Fastlane blog in her study? The way to do that would be to survey a representative sample of blog readers on the GM FastLane Blog.