Over the past year, many more companies have delivered analytics tools to help you measure your investment in external social media tools and strategies. Monitoring what’s happening in your customers’ social networks and your reach within those networks is vital to every business, but there is another side to the social movement that's just as important to your bottom-line and is in need of much greater analysis and nurture: what’s happening socially inside your business.

Being a “social business” is about more than just being active on external channels; it’s about introducing that same transparent, collaborative and social philosophy to every aspect of the enterprise.

Investment without Measurement

As much as 60 percent of the conversations about your company are taking place internally between teams and on platforms such as Salesforce Chatter and Yammer. And while there is no doubt that over the last two to three years companies have increasingly embraced the social enterprise vision -- investing in everything from internal IM to advanced collaboration platforms such as Jive -- very few are measuring how effectively they’re achieving it.

In our experience, there aren’t many companies that have empirical data on how well social business tools are being adopted internally, what conversations are going on and whether or not these activities are actually helping to achieve business objectives.

This year we will get serious about measuring internal social initiatives and spend more time looking from the inside out, to understand how well social activities are impacting productivity, innovation, customer satisfaction and revenue. 

This shift will be driven by three things; the broader social business movement gaining momentum; greater sophistication in how we measure value from all of our business tools, particularly in light of the recent explosion in analytics for external social media, and; a tight economy driving many companies to evaluate whether the tools that they rolled out two or three years ago are being used to their full potential.

This is the year we move away from simply rolling out social technologies and assuming they’re working. We’ll start demanding better social business analytics so that we’re able to unlock maximum value from the tools driving the social revolution.

We need to be analyzing four things:

1. Your Company’s “Social Pulse”

While at least 50 percent of the transformation into a social business is cultural, you need the right technology to support it (and in turn, the technology can help measure how well you’re doing with the cultural shift). But, if no one is using these technologies, your social business is dead in the water. You need to be able to measure adoption within your target group to establish a basepoint, then identify your power users and influencers in order to improve.

2. Innovation and Intelligence

There is an overwhelming amount of content, ideas, innovation and opportunity happening inside of your company, and social tools give you the chance to identify it. Within internal conversations lie critical business intelligence. From conversations about customers, competitive challenges to even what your employees think about your own products, you can surface a huge amount of insight into your own business provided you have the tools to analyze the social stream.

There are plenty of tools to help us do this for external social interactions, far fewer that offer the same internally.

3. The Health of Your Business


Conversation analysis also helps us to understand the health of the business more broadly.

From simply tracking “likes,” to full-blown sentiment analysis, every HR person I know gets excited when this subject comes up. That’s because the potential to find out what your employees are saying about your business and getting insight into staff satisfaction is one of the obvious benefits that can come from using social business tools.

But again, we need the right analytical tools to make this possible. Manually wading through feeds to find anecdotal evidence of what’s happening, just doesn't cut it.

4. Social ROI

The holy grail of social business analytics is proving that “social” really does improve the bottom line. We know of course that it should, and almost certainly does, but as with any other IT investment we need to know by how much, why and what we can do to improve it.

Is your social activity helping your sales team to close more? Close faster? Win bigger deals? Are your social tools increasing real collaboration, or just becoming another system to maintain?

Competitive advantage will come from being able to understand what’s going on better than the other guys, not just in your marketplace but inside your business. You need to be able to get a 360 degree view of your social business -- not just externally, but on the inside too.

Image courtesy of Maksim Shmeljov (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: To read more about the work that lies ahead for the Social Business, check out Deb Lavoy's 2013 Prediction: Social Business Tech Will Stop Blaming Culture for Failure