Monday, September 22, 2008

can you measure a conversation?

Engagement in social media boasts a panoply of social psychological learnings, and yet takes classic social psychology and redefines the experimental boundaries. On one level, there are myriad new, online behavioral residues with which you can operationalize constructs of interest (e.g. Influence); on another level, social media, per se (as a medium/ channel of communication), forces us to question what it means to have meaningful interactions and  recontextualizes everything we know about group dynamics. 
But the essence of social media, as so many people are proselytizing, is about having a conversation (c.f. Jaffe, Shirky).
This is good news; conversations offer a vast array of measurement possibilities; furthermore, measuring a conversation, although unconventional, taps into meaningful psychological constructs that can tell you something important. While it may not directly align with your previous method of calculating ROI, I would argue, conversation affords more productive understanding of your efforts. Is your conversational style authentic? Is it perceived as genuine? Is your conversation in synch with your audience?
As enterprises rapidly adopt social media, we have a viable opportunity to measure, monitor, and eventually use these learnings to transform the way business works. What do you think? Do you think existing measurement models will endure? Do you think social psychology can help make make enterprises more authentically social? 


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