Daily Archives: April 19, 2013

How to Measure Success Within Your Community

This week’s #cmgrclass topic is measuring social media metrics effectively and efficiently. We were assigned to watch two videos in addition to class readings. Those include, How to Use Data for Better Online Community Management with Rich Millington and a webinar (#bizmetrics) that featured four community managers sharing their insight on social media metrics.

According to Rich Millington social media metrics should follow three key steps growth, level of activity, and sense of community. He suggests using a data-driven approach to clearly see and analyze what really matters when it comes to the growth and development of your community. It is important is see what is contributing to the success or failure of your community, therefore, allowing ample opportunity for improvement.

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 http://www.flickr.com/photos/23148333@N06/4907723672/

Millington says that tracking data teaches the theory of where to go next. It provides the community manager with a guideline as to what to do next. He suggests finding out the ROI of your community. Being able to answers questions like “how does the online community enhance the company?” is useful in developing ways to better utilize the platforms on which you have an existence. Millington says if your answer to the stated question is solely engagement, you may need to reevaluate. Engagement does not lead to sales. Your online community should be connected to the areas where you are actively seeking results. Know exactly what it is that you’re measuring.

Gain better insight into what your community members are looking for out of an online experience. Don’t be afraid to ask what their hopes and aspirations are regarding the topic you’re tackling. Find out what challenges and successes they’ve encountered within the topic you’re covering. This will help you better generate content. Millington distinguishes between product strategy and social media strategy. Naturally, if you’re selling products, you need to ask specific questions to make sure you product is providing the needs and desires of your client base. Social media strategy is centered around engagement, but with a specific focus that will generate revenue or improve the company in ways that enhance the overall reputation.

Community managers should be proactive as opposed to being reactive. Millington says 90% of community managers’ time is dedicated to being reactive. This includes monitoring what’s happening in the community, responding to emails and comments, resolving conflict that arises among community members, etc. These things are essential but do not contribute to proactively developing the community. You’re simply working to maintain the current community, not advance it. There’s much value in being proactive. Develop of plan of action for achieving goals within your community. Once your community reaches a critical mass, your goals should be shifting from the micro to the macro level. If you’re still waiting for your critical mass, don’t patiently wait for people to visit your platform. Go market to the right people. Create a set of goals for yourself based on the results you discover from analyzing your data. Measurement isn’t the goal, but getting information that helps influence your business decisions and learning how to invest your time is crucial.

Share with the #cmgrclass which tools you use to measure success within your community.

#CMGRCHAT – “Battle of the Sexes”

CM  avatar images

 

I took the opportunity to check-in to the Twitter chat  of #cmgrchat on Wednesday, April 10th. I found the experience to be very enlightening and entertaining. The topic was formatted as “Battle of the Sexes”, which become apparent throughout the conversations that it was not really a battle but more of an open, honest conversation.

I wasn’t completely sure how to jump in to the conversation so I sat back and “listened” for a bit. The conversations were fluid with people shareing ideas and responding to tweets. It was apparent to me that most of them had a great familiarity with one another, which seemed to allow an open and “real” conversation regarding everything from pay scales (By the way, in case you were wondering about the pay, @TheCmgr shared this – “In 2012 men made an average of $54,880 to women in the same role making $50,400. How can women close the gap?”) to advice for communities and deliberating the possibilities of male and female roles as a community manager. The question was posed  regarding the possibility of an ungendered community manager position. Some examples that were given were “only a female could be the community manager of a feminine hygiene product”, or “could a female represent a predominantly man’s brand and get a good response from the community”.

m vs f

The majority of the CM’s on the chat seemed to agree that it is about connecting with your community regardless of gender. I personally have to agree with this statement. From what we have been learning and what I have observed online, a good community manager can connect with their community and engage well regardless of their gender. I think there may be only a few times where gender can matter. One was mentioned in the chat as dealing with women who have been abused. They may not be open to having a male as the community manager or feel they can openly “unload” in that space. @DebNg said it well with “It shouldn’t be tied to a specific gender, but how will the community react?” This is the primary question that should be asked and answered. It it is the community that ultimately will decide the effectiveness of its manager.

Community Connecting

My personal experience with this chat was amazement. I was very impressed with the open conversation in the safe environment that has been created there. People shared their opinions openly and were met with honest responses. That seems to be what a community should be all about. I also was impressed with the amount of great information sharing that took place there.( I can’t wait until I have time to check in weekly!) The take aways I gained from this experience were:

  • Sometimes you must agree to disagree but always be respectful about it
  • A key is being sensitive to needs of your community
  • In most cases it *shouldn’t* matter what the gender of the cmgr is. In some cases is absolutely matters.
  • A great #CMGR transcends gender and creates a community around a product, mission, goal, interest.
  • The best person for the job is the best person for the job, regardless of gender

Looking forward to all that this talented and creative group of community managers has to share in the future. It seems to be a great place to connect with knowledgeable, intelligent and kind people. Great community of Community managers!

Justifying Your Community Through Meaningful Data

question markWhy do we create online communities?

This week we are concentrating on the topic of metrics and how it can justify the expenditures of creating an online community. According to Richard Millington’s book “Buzzing Communities”, many organizations develop online communities in order to meet objects that aren’t suited for communities. An example of such an objective is to reach new audiences with the intent of them buying a certain product or service.

Such objectives raise questions on why would someone participate in a community for a product (or service) that they currently don’t buy? How do you attract new customers? Initially, you don’t, according to Millington, you should concentrate on your existing customers. If you create a community of your existing customers, they may bring in their acquaintances, friends or family, ultimately bringing new customers to your community.

Once you have an established community, you can begin analyzing its behavior. Monitoring is vital to justifying the amount of resources that you are spending on the community’s development and maintenance. According to Harry Gold’s article, some of the social media ROI metrics that are commonly used by companies include:

  • Engagement Rates: Ultimately, this is a clear indication of the community participant’s loyalty to your company. Loyalty can potentially result in repeat purchases and new customers through their own recommendations. In Harry’s examples, engagement rates metric is the total amount of Facebook likes and comments divided by the total fan count.
  • “Talking about this”: This is a “buzz metric” that indicates how many people are talking about you on Facebook. Can provide insight on how well a marketing campaign is being received by your audience.
  • Facebook Reach: Metric that Facebook generates based on the organic, viral and paid searches. This metric is very useful for determining how well each of your registered search terms are being utilized by community members.

The items above I believe are some of the most important metrics to use while justifying the costs of an online community. Engagement rates are vital, these indicate loyalty between customers that are participating in your online community. These are just some of the metrics that can be used to show upper management how important community management can be.

Reflection: My Own Experiences

During my time working with a previous employer’s marketing department, I gained some experience with tracking conversion through our social networking presence and public website. Through our consulting agency, we were able to track how many people interacted with our Facebook and Twitter page. Once we had a detailed view of who had been using our social media pages, we were then able to link the person to an appointment in our system, thus linking actual revenue to our online community.

Our ability to link our customer engagement to a specific dollar amount was instrumental in justifying our significant costs to upper management. Incurred costs included the day-to-day maintenance of our Twitter feed and Facebook page, along with general updates to our public website. Overall, this was a great learning experience on how to explain the value of investing in an online community.