What’s Gov 2.0’s return on investment?

I work in online marketing and social media for my “day job,” and we are endlessly consumed with how to measure returns on investment (ROI) in the Web 2.0 space.

There are similar issues with measuring Gov 2.0 ROI. You can involve yourself in all sorts of efforts — publicizing data, engaging in social media, utilizing email campaigns, encouraging questions, fostering transparancy. And all these things are great, but (just like with our marketing clients) someone’s got to answer for the bottom line. With governments tightening their belts and funding being cut, showing that investment in government transparency pays off is crucial.

The things is, there are no easy answers. A post from openSF (Measuring ROI of Gov 2.0 Efforts) highlights a few ways in which various social media efforts actually SAVE money, including:

  • Vivek Kundra quantifies value in dollars
  • Gavin Newsom notes the cost-savings of using Twitter (free) for 311 vs a SMS provider ($100K)
  • Edwin Bender, executive director of followthemoney.org, in a conversation sites legislative change through the use of their data in two Supreme Court cases
  • MAPLight.org (money/vote connection) highlights the use of their data in media to help promote accountability

The truth is, this space is so new, relatively speaking, there aren’t a set of cut-and-dried rules that apply across the board when determining what counts as making a worthwhile investment. There may never be. The flip side of this conundrum is that we can be a part of helping to determine ROI. We, the people, have the burden to prove its relevance and importance. And as the several examples above prove, once you get creative and put your mind to it, it may not be that hard after all.


  1. If you’re involved with an agency that places importance on transparency, why do you think they place an importance on such?
  2. What are some ways your agency “proves” the worth of its Gov 2.0 efforts?
  3. Have you discovered any unique, cost-effective ways to spread information?

Alexis James is the managing moderator/editor at an online marketing startup, while maintaining her own social media clients via 10thFloorPR.com. When she's not submerged in the web up to her eyeballs, she creates, markets and sells her own line of eco-friendly pet clothing (EarthsBestFriend.com), and postulates about life, politics and religion on her blog, alexisinthecity.com. You can track her down via her blog, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.


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