Metrics with online communities are often thought of an elusive – How do we measure the value? What are the key risk indicators and metrics that we need to be focused on for measuring and reporting success – especially in a B2B or enterprise environment? The most important metric to track is the level and persistent footprint of engagement of the members.
25% engagement metric over the course of a month is a magic number that typically signals that the B2B community or professional network is healthy.
This means that about 25% of your active user base makes themselves visible in some way – not just logging in, but actually doing something that is traceable and visible to the community operations. This could be posting a message or leaving a comment, or even responding to a newsletter.
While this number may seem low, it is important to remember that professional community members are not like consumers. They don’t have as much time to spend online. They often visit a professional community only, on average, once every 8-10 days. They also generally don’t spend as much time online as a consumer – 4-9 minutes per session is about the average you can expect from a senior level audience.
So creating opportunities and reasons for members to log on and get involved is critical to the success of the community. A great way to do this is to involve them in the collaborative process and to reinforce and create incentives to support the behaviors you want to continue online. Valuing, acknowledging, and rewarding members for involvement are good ways to teach the culture of collaboration. This will build a sense of community around the professional issues and topics addressed in the community.
Rewards can be to encourage behaviors that are desirable for the community and deepen engagement. For example, some key behaviors the community operations will need to support include:
· Profile creation
· Rapid response to research in need of review
· Referring new members to the site
· Giving endorsements to other’s recommendations
Rewards are offered in multiple ways:
1) Monetary: This can be effective for some communities but can quickly be devalued if overused. Placing a dollar value on certain activities might seem trite and undervalue the activity, especially for an audience of sophisticated professionals.
2) Giveaways: iPods, tickets to premiere seats at a game or show, passes to a conference. These can create more interest than the actual cash value or money expended to obtain them.
3) Recognition (social currency): This is the most powerful incentive in a professional community. Some common implementations of recognition programs include:
4) Badges: Using medallions to identify a member’s special status (e.g. founding member etc.)
5) Spotlights: Post a featured member on the home page, including a picture, explanation of the recognition, a brief quote or interview of the member, endorsements, etc.
Use rewards to engineer the kinds of behaviors desired among members and reward individual behaviors. Create heroes and stars by identifying unique or valuable contributions. This kind of focused attention on members will certainly have a positive impact on your engagement metrics and keep users coming back for more!Thank you for reading Building Online Communities for Business by Leader Networks. We are a research and strategy consulting company that helps organizations succeed in social business and B2B online community building.
Visit us on the web at http://www.leadernetworks.com. Connect with us on Twitter http://twitter.com/vdimauro Call us at 617 484 0778