Forrester analyst Charlene Li writes today that “it’s not about the math” and says she wishes she hadn’t tossed out $1 million in new business as a quantifiable metric for the effectiveness of her blog. For the record, I am the guilty party who picked up on her $1M ROI comment at the New Communications Forum in March ’06.

I consider Charlene a friend as well as business colleague and I certainly didn’t mean to make things difficult for her. Now that I think about it, I can imagine her fellow analysts giving her a hard time about her ROI calculation. (“Hey Charlene, you sure it was only $1M?!)

Nonetheless I’m intrigued by her blog post today. She seems to be saying three things:

1. Her blog has incalculable value.

She writes:

“I also consider my blog integral to all of my activities as an analyst.
I discuss blog posts frequently with clients and the press and use it
to solicit feedback and conduct research.”

2. But ROB (Return on Blog, as I call it in The Corporate Blogging Book) is generally not a quantifiable metric.

She writes:

“Companies could spend endless cycles debating and calculating the
correct way to calculate the value of a blog and end up losing sight of
the core value of creating a dialog with their customers.”

3. And yet… couching that value in economic terms (which I take to mean not hard dollars, per se, but business value in a broader sense) is important.

She concludes:

Quantifying that benefit doesn’t need to be a long, drawn out exercise
but I do believe that clearly stating the goals of the blog in economic
terms is a good starting point for a corporate blogging strategy. Use
those goals then as the simple metrics to determine the success of your
company’s blogging activities.

Hmmm… but exactly how do you do that? Does this put us back to square one on the ROI of blogging? What do you think?? Leave your comment below. Or click on over to Charlene’s post and leave a comment there. I’d love to hear some chatter on this topic. I don’t think it’s going to go away.