Category: Metrics

Marketing & Online Communities: An update on speakers and topics (and a kick ass reception)

Cross-posted from the OC Report: Following closely on the heels of the Online Community Summit, The Marketing & Online Communities conference is less than a month away.

The Marketing & Online Communities conference is intended to be an in-depth discussion on the current issues and opportunities in marketing to communities. Marketers and brand managers seem to be struggling with effective and appropriate techniques when marketing to the connected consumer. For instance, Edelman, the renowned PR firm that publishes it’s annual Trust Barometer, has had a couple of recent campaigns for Wal-Mart that clearly violate consumer trust. Conversely, online communities seem to be very reluctant to experiment with new and appropriate marketing techniques, and seem to fall back on crude tools like banner ads. Personally, I’m stunned every day at the crass and off-target ads I’m served in Facebook. We can all collectively do better.

In short: the point of the conference is to bring marketing agencies, brand managers and community hosts to the table to talk about how to market more effectively and respectfully.

Our topic list includes:

• Marketing to Communities – The Brand “Us”
• Anatomy of an Integrated Campaign
• Creating Successful Campaigns With Established Communities
• Hosting the premier community for your Brand
• Using Social Media in Your Campaigns
• Measuring The Success of Your Community Campaign
• Children & Tween Communities: Engaging the Future
• Boomer Networks
• The Future of Community-based Marketing

Our session lead list includes:

• Dave Bottoms – Yahoo!
• Betsy Burroughs – Future Catalyst
• Andy Chambers – Digit
• Mary Furlong – Mary Furlong & Associates
• Marcien Jenckes – AOL
• Michael Leifer – guerilla PR, Inc.
• Tim Manners – THE HUB Magazine / Cool News of the Day
• Bree Nguyen – Warner Bros Records
• Jeremy Welt – Warner Bros Records

A partial list of the organizations attending includes:

• AOL
• APC
• David X. Manners Company
• Digit London
• Eastman Kodak
• Fidelity Investments
• Guardian Investment Management
• guerilla PR, Inc.
• Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
• Lightworks New Media, Inc.
• LiveWorld
• Marketmaker Interactive
• Microsoft
• Omidyar Network
• Strategic Marketing
• The Luxury Institute
• United Nations
• WebEx
• Yahoo

Last but not least, we have added a reception following the event in the ultra hip Sanctum lounge. This is the prefect place for both sides of the community and marketing debate to sip a cocktail, relax, and network after what promises to be a full day of heated discussion.

If you would like to request an invitation to the event, please fill out this short form.

A few speaking and sponsorship opportunities are still available. Please let me know if you would like to discuss. bjohnston@forumone.com.

5 Questions Webinar: My content, transcript and archive

I had the pleasure of participating in a webinar yesterday with George Jaquette of Intuit and Aaron Strout of Shared Insights.

Aaron just posted the webinar archive and transcript on the Wearesmarter.com site.

Additionally, I wanted to post my notes from the event, which more or less sum up what I said (or meant to say: ) ).

Question 1: How do I create a value-driven community strategy?
It is important to remember that value is relative to your organization and also to your community. As an organization, you need to do some research (and soul searching) on why you want to host a community, what value you need to get out of the activity, and most importantly, what value YOU can bring to the table.
Hint: making your customers happy is generally a path to growth.
Question 2: Which metrics should I be measuring? (Measuring value in traditional and non-traditional ways)
The short answer? It depends on your community goals. It should be a mix of quantitative and qualitative.

Traditional Web Metrics ( a few examples)
Page views, time on site, referring sites, referring search engines, referring search terms

New Community / Social Media Metrics ( a few examples)
Member engagement: activity and “investment” in community
Member Loyalty & Satisfaction
Membership Growth and Attrition
Member referrals (also a sign of engagement),
Quality of content and exchange: For instance, resolution time, days thread was active, ratio of validated responses. Support communities are leading the way on best practices and reporting.
Tracking the brand through the “Community ecosystem”: Tracking brands and community members as they travel through the larger community ecosystem that spans sites, technologies and devices.
Impact of the community on revenue: Particular attention is being paid to the value of members, both to the host communities’ revenue, and the organization’s sales or fundraising.
Mobile interactions with the community: including views and posts from mobiles.

This question is explored more thoroughly in our Online Community Metrics 2007 report, which can be downloaded for free here.
Question 3: How do I manage my community, and how can I enlist my community to help?
First, you don’t “manage” a community. You host. If your intention in engaging in community building activities is to manipulate the community in some way, don’t bother. Members will run away in droves.
With that said, there is a role in every community for a manager or moderator that ensures that the community is a “clean, well lit place”, or at least keeps to the culture and values expressed in the community policies. Policies and norms of expected behavior should be clearly articulated and easily accessible. This leaves the community moderator / manager to more interesting activities than deleting all the posts with “f@ck” in them, like actually participating in the community.

Give your community the tools to help manage the community , including the ability to rate and flag content, escalate issues to the moderator, and provide feedback on the user experience.

Find your influences and evangelists (typically, the most active (and positive) members), and put them on a pedestal. Sean O’Driscoll of MS has a lot of great things to say about the topic of engaging influencers.


Question 4: How do I grow my community without losing intimacy?

I’ll be honest, I didn’t exactly get this question. If you design a community UX poorly, event one with 100 members will feel anonymous.
My feedback was to basically grow from your base, and stick to your values and culture. Give members the ability to create subgroups, and allow members to create rich profiles.

Question 5: Within our company, who should blog and who shouldn’t?
Those with a point of view, subject matter expertise and a PERSONALITY should be blogging. I made the point that good blogging candidates in a company are likely already blogging outside of the company. Good corporate blogging often times feels like corporate “reality TV”, providing access inside the corporate membrane in an informal, interesting and (hopefully) lighthearted way.

There were great questions via the phone, and a great back channel chat happening during the call. Again, the transcript can be found here.

The evolving role of the Community Manager

Cross posted from the OC Report:

The topic of online community team organizational structures seems to be getting increasingly hot.

The two main questions seem to be:

• Where does the community team “belong” in a corporate structure?
• What are the roles on that team?

I’ve explored the former a couple of times, so I thought I would spend some time on the roles of the team, and in particular, the community manager. I would really love to hear what you think about this. I know leaving comments on this blog can be a bit of a pain (working on it), so if you have any issues, please email me.

The role of Community Manager seems to be evolving in the following ways:

The role is less about moderation and more about product management.
Most thriving communities need little action by the moderators. Management tools are (in general) sufficient enough to combat spam, and most communities have empowered the members with tools to flag abusive or inappropriate posts. Simply put: with adequate and findable community guidelines, active moderation can (and should) be in the hands of the members. strategy, features, UX, platform, budgets, marketing (and a hundred other things). In short, very much like the role of a product manager.

An expectation of communicating value (ROI) rather than stats
Community managers are now expected to not just report stats (page views, membership growth), but also to report on other points of value, and to contextualize that value, at least in part, in terms of progress on business goals.

Community managers are expected to grow relationships with the influencers in the community
Community managers are increasingly expected to know who their lead members are, and what effect their influence has on other community members.

Community managers should be thinking about “portability” of their team
In some companies, sources of community funding, and even the reporting structure of the community team is changing every few quarters. We live in evolutionary times, so it is good for community managers to reach out to senior staff on teams outside their immediate reporting structures.

In some cases, seasoned community managers are evolving into the Community Director, with several functions reporting in to him / her. My Community dream team would look something like this (YMMV):
• Moderators
• UX
• Analytics
• Content Manager / Community Editor
• Marketing
• Developer / Ops

I’d like to hear from the community managers out there. What are you experiencing in your day to day work? What am I missing here?

Online Community Research: Metrics 2007 Report Posted

The Online Community Metrics 2007 research report has been posted on the Online Community Research Network. You can download the report from the OCRN home page.

Some of the most significant findings published in this study include:

• Metrics options: a wide-ranging list of new and different metrics which respondents found valuable apart from the norm of page visits and unique visitors.

• Desired metrics: a valuable wish list that has been complied by online community professionals for online community professionals.

• Tools for collecting metrics: a highlighted graph on data collected to see what the best services, tools and techniques are for collecting and analyzing online community data.

• Demonstrating ROI: Quantifying the value of community efforts for management.

• Advice: Top tips accumulated for community managers concerning best practice metrics.

Our research is predicated on the belief that the best source for information regarding online communities continues to be other online community professionals. A quote from the report:

“Numbers tell a story, but numbers only tell part of the story. Metrics are important – page views, new threads & posts, etc all tell you hard growth facts. But part of community is organic — how the culture is developing, how many people are forming deeper relationships with each other — these are important things for community growth that can’t be measured.”

Again, the full report can be downloaded from the Online Community Research Network home page: http://www.onlinecommunityresearch.com

This research study is conducted as part of the recently launched Online Community Research Network (OCRN).

The OCRN is a collaborative research effort of online community professionals to better understand the challenges of building and managing online communities. You can find more information on the OCRN home page, if you are interested.

Enjoy the report!

Social Networking: It’s still early

Joi Podgorny had an excellent post yesterday… mostly about LinkedIn bashing, and general snarkiness of late in the debate about Facebook vs. (insert your favorite social network / social media tool here).

One point she makes in the post is that it is still *really* early in the game. Those of us using social networking and media tools are the early adopters. I tend to forget this, as I am on the periphery of the bay area tech hype bubble, which tends to be self-referential and self-absorbed.

The Numbers:

From http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm

  • Global Population: 6,574,666,417
  • Global Internet Users: 1,154,358,778

Sourced from Wikipedia:

  • My Space Members: 106,000,000
  • Linked Members: 10,000,000
  • Facebook Members: 30,000,000

So, assuming that these numbers are in the neighborhood of legit, the best of the best social network only has ~10% global penetration.

It’s easy to forget that it is still early.

Metrics: Page Views Out, Time On Site In

Nielsen/NetRatings is dropping page views as a key site ranking metric, PaidContent.com and the AP report:

Now, news that Nielsen/NetRatings is planning a major shift in web metrics, moving, according to the AP, from page views as the key metric to time spent on a site.

This new approach will likely shake up current rankings, for instance:

…under the current system, AOL ranked sixth in total page views for May but first in total minutes: 25 billion. Using total time, Google drops to fifth from third in page views. (The reason given is Google’s mission to send people off quickly for answers; that’s probably true but ignores Google’s other mission now, which is to keep people engaged on its own sites.)

In our Online Community Metrics 2007 study (to be released in August), we found that page views were far and away the most collected and reported metric. If general confidence in this metric starts to erode, what will take its place? Is “Time spent on site” the most meaningful metrics for communities?

The other big issue is with online advertising. Most sites are using page views to correlate “impressions”, similar to traditional marketing campaigns. If page views become meaningless, who do marketers communicate value back to clients?