David Carr has posted an interesting overview of the non-financial impact of social media for marketers, with some groovy images, including a social media onion.

In a nutshell, David argues that non-financial impact of social media investment can be measured in three ways:

  • Exposure (much like advertising)
  • Engagement (much like good advertising)
  • Collaboration (quite unlike advertising – except online create-an-ad contest) (the center of the onion)


David proposes a number of non-financial measurable indicators of exposure, engagement and collaboration, and does a good job of organizing thinking on social media metrics into a coherent whole. And we get a social media onion thrown in for free (click to enlarge)…


David suggests that the onion can be used alongside “true ROI” measurement (the financial impact – costs saved/sales generated) (see Olivier Banchard’s excellent presentation on social media ROI below).

For marketers the Carr onion speaks their language, and the onion contains intermediating variables between social media production and social media return. But until we can put a value on social media exposure, engagement or collaboration, I think ROI is the way to go… Onion or Money – I go with the money…