Fitting technical documentation into a Social Web strategy

Social Media experts, such as David Armano, of Dachis Corp, are proposing new business measures for assessing the effectiveness of social media marketing. Armano is proposing five key measurement factors:

  1. Attention: how many people are clicking on your site, blogs or tweets?
  2. Engagement: how much interaction there is between the community and you?
  3. Authority: your influence in the community and on the Web?
  4. Virality: how your information spreads by digital word of mouth?
  5. Health: the strength of the community and your online presence?

His slideshow covers this in more detail:


So can technical documentation be “re-framed” to meet these criteria? If so, will its value to the business become clearer?

I would suggest the most Documentation Managers would see these measurement factors playing to the strengths of technical documentation.

It wouldn’t take a great deal of effort to incorporate these factors into a documentation strategy. Be doing this, the efforts of the Technical Publications department would assist in maximising an organisation’s Social Web marketing efforts.

As a side effect, it could also move technical publications towards the centre of many modern organisations’ core activities.


Larry Kunz

Yes, I think technical documentation can play a major role in helping the organization score well in Armano’s five measurement factors. The risk, however, is that we’re nowhere near a consensus about whether these are the right things to measure or about how to measure them.

Nevertheless, I think your point is that the Tech Pubs department has a huge opportunity to increase its value to the organization. I agree with you. The possibilities are exciting.

Ivan Walsh

Hi Ellis,

<move technical publications towards the centre of many modern organisations’ core activities

Could you give an example of how this could work?

For me, the issue is that technical docs are seen as quite far down the food chain (compared to say marketing material).
Getting buy-in is tricky without use cases. Any suggestions would be welcome.



In the first instance, if a company decides to prioritise these measures, then there’s an opportunity to put forward technical communication as an activity that’s already contributing to these. Technical Documentation/User Assistance is strong with regards to Attention and Authority, so there may be a better appreciation of its contribution. If a company asks “Where are we getting people’s attention?”, then it may realise it’s in the user assistance it provides.

Secondly, there’s the opportunity to use technical documentation as a Social Media tool. Conversational and collaborative documentation, as used at Red Gate and Northgate IS (and promoted by Anne Gentle and others), creates content that is strong on Engagement and perhaps Virality.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.