Cross-posted from the Online Community Report
One of the most interesting findings was around the concept of member engagement. Both the definition as well as the process of measuring engagement varied across the respondent organizations.
Highlights From the Report:
Most people determine the level of engagement based on the amount of activity and the amount of content created (forum posts, reviews, discussions, diggs, links added, comments and content, etc.). They also look at the amount of time spent on the site as one of the main measurements of engagement. Another important dimension, which only a few respondents mentioned is the number and quality of connections that a member has with the host organization (in some cases brand) and other community members.
A few respondents were using a set of “Leading indicators” to benchmark and track engagement:
• “1) Logged in/accessed the site; 2) Posted comments to the site; 3) Posted substantive content (e.g. conversation-starting forum topic) to the site; 4) Completed profile/member survey”
• “Engagement encompasses not only logins to the site, but activity: Digging/burying stories, submitting content and engaging in discussions on specific stories.”
An ideal Engagement Metric
Based on aggregate responses, the following metrics would be ideal for rolling up into an engagement metric.
• Amount of activity on site: page views, logins, searches, feature usage
• Number and type of content items created: discussion posts, tags, shared content, etc.
• Number of connections / relationships created: friends added to network, or inferred via frequent discussion exchanges
• Time on site: Total time per month
• Frequency of visits: / per month
• Recommendations: Members referring new community members, passing along community content outside of community, blogging about / promoting community
A perspective on member engagement:
One Fortune 100 Financial Services firm that responded to the survey uses the following definition / measurements of “Engagement”:
“We define engagement in a few different ways.
1) Very tactically in the community. Tactically: How many have registered? What are their posting rates? How often are they are engaging in the community?
2) Strategically with higher-level brand metrics: looking at how this pays off for our overall brand goal. [Company] uses a Net Promoter Score to measure the health of the brand.
We ask “Would you recommend [Company] to your friends?” on a scale of 1-10.
Then we subtract the people who answer low (either 1-3 or 1-5), from the people who answer high (9-10) that yes, they definitely would recommend [Company] to their friends.
That gives us a percentage and we measure it for the [Company] brand and at each of the product levels.
The community is about overall brand engagement and how the community drives loyalty and membership within the [Company] brand.”
All of the responses to the question about fostering engagement raise the point that as community host, you have responsibility for half of the conversation with community members. Themes of regular communication, active listening, strong moderation, fostering discussion and recognition emerged in the responses.
The most popular ways to improve member engagement include:
• Regular and easy communications:
“Send email – ones that are targeted and provide interesting news. We found over our 500 or so communities that those who send regular (monthly) email to members have 7x engagement numbers compared to those who did it less than once every other month.”
• Skilled moderation:
“Keep the forums on topic and firm but fair moderation. “
• Keep content fresh.
• Fostering discussion:
“Encouraging conversation. Sometimes, this means highlighting a potentially divisive, opinionated comment and inviting response. Sometimes, this means asking questions that everyone has an answer to, and nobody minds sharing.”
• Listening to participants:
“Seek member feedback and perspective, build meaningful connections”
• Recognizing members who participate:
“Create a sense of value to their participation.”
The full report is available to Online Community Research Network members. If you are interested in this report (and others), please consider joining the Network. Details are available here: http://www.onlinecommunityresearch.com