Thursday, 29 November 2012

Measure the Success of your Community

Measurement in social media is perhaps the biggest and nastiest beast that can cause community managers, like me, heartburn.  How do you prove your efforts in crafting a vibrant community have been successful? The metrics necessary to demonstrate progress will vary based on the goals of your community and the platform you are using. In recognition of the organic nature of communities, you will want to set long-term goals in the six month and year range. Setting expectations with management as they pertain to community growth and health is critical to avoid stopping the effort short. In addition, setting short-term objectives and evaluation methodologies must be done to guide you in your pursuit of long-term goals. It is easy to get off track quickly if you don’t have constant feedback to help you consistently assess and adjust your tactics. Lastly, keep in mind that this type of reporting is at the community management level, not the business value level. To show the business value of the community is a different beast.
Community building is both a science and an art. It should not as a surprise that measuring the health of a community also requires a combination of both.
The Science
Your community platform dictates what quantitative measurements that can be tracked. Here are some common quantitative metrics:
  • Total Members - This is an easy metric to record and demonstrates the overall growth of the community. You should calculate the total members in your community on a monthly basis, at minimum.
  • Active Members - How many different faces are you seeing in discussions? Membership alone is not enough to define your community as 'vibrant'. You need folks to be engaged on a regular basis.
  • Participating Members - The amount of participation in the discussions you launch is a valuable indicator of your success as a community manager. It also reveals whether the content you are posting is resonating with members. You should be frequently evaluating the topics that generate the most participation to help you tailor content to your members’ interests and needs.
  • Contributing Members - This metric (when paired with 'quality of content' discussed below) indicates the vibrancy of a community. One of the biggest milestones for a community manager is reaching the point where the community become self-sustaining, with its members contributing the majority of content and discussions.

If you're a community manager for a Jive-powered community, you have the ability to determine total members (users), active, participating, and contributing from the community manager reports.

The Art
Focusing entirely on a quantity approach will overlook the intangibles that go into building a healthy community.  Looking to qualitative metrics is not only desirable but necessary for an accurate picture of the community. Some qualitative metrics to consider:
  • Sentiment – Tracking the positive, neutral or negative nature of the content is core to determining the satisfaction of the community members. Member feedback and tone in the community is critical for the community longevity.
  • Quality of Content - Activity in your community may be skyrocketing, but this metric is insufficient to determine the value of the members’ contributions. For example, if your community is being hit by a systematic spamming effort, the activity level may be quite high, but the quality of content inversely low.
  • Resolution Rate - How quickly is a question answered or an issue resolved when posted in the community? This is another useful way to measure satisfaction of community members.
  • Ideation - What kind of ideas have come from your community? How have those ideas been implemented in your company? If one of your goals for your community is to develop new products and services, then need to be tracking the useful ideas generated and implementation.
  • Advocates - Measuring advocacy dances the line between quantitative and qualitative, depending on whether you are looking at the number of advocates or the quality of advocates’ contributions to the community. Tracking the activity level in helping their peers in the community, posting valuable content, and keeping the discussions alive are ways to measure your brand advocates effectiveness.
These are just a few metrics that you can use to assess your community. Finding the right mix of metrics that provide the most useful feedback will take trial and error. It is best to begin with measuring as many factors possible, then paring back as you identify those measurements that are the most relevant. This approach also provides you with a wide variety of baselines to help track your progress. Some examples of how these community goals can be paired with metrics:
  • (Goal) Increase member satisfaction with the community by 10% in six months = (Metrics) Sentiment + Resolution Rate + Advocates
  • (Goal) Increase membership by 50% in six months = (Metric) Total Members
As you get farther into the measurement process, you will have recorded a robust data set that will help you set more realistic goals in the future. A word of caution: while proving the value of your community is important, it is possible to over-analyze your community. Avoid getting bogged down by measuring minutia, such as the number of "likes" each post receives; otherwise, you will end up wasting valuable time that could have been spent actually building your community. Striking the right balance will take practice. Carefully evaluating your goals and the metrics you are using to determine success will help you conquer the once feared monster of social media measurement.
How do you measure social success in your organization?

Monday, 26 November 2012

U.S. Social Media Ad Revenues To Double By 2016

BIA/Kelsey, a leading media analysis and consultancy firm, forecasts that social media advertising revenue in the U.S. will grow from $4.6 billion to $9.2 billion in the next four years – that equates to a compound annual growth rate of 19.2%.
“The continued development of native ads, such as Facebook’s Sponsored Stories and Twitter’s Promoted Tweets, and the acceleration of mobile monetization will be the primary drivers of social advertising growth through 2016”, said Jed Williams of BIA/Kelsey, adding that 2012 was the year of social advertising’s “coming of age”.
According to Dan Greenberg, CEO of Sharethrough, ‘native advertising’ is “a form of media that’s built into the actual visual design and where the ads are part of the content.” The revenue from ‘native advertising’ is predicted to grow from $1.5 billion to $3.9 billion by 2016.
There will also be an increase in the revenue from other forms of social media advertising: the revenue from social display advertising, such as the banners on YouTube, will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 15.2% from $3 billion to $5.4 billion.
Mobile advertising is expected to increase 300% over the next four years, from $500 million to 1.5 billion. Jed Williams admits that they are “clearly placing a bet that mobile ads will perform. Obviously, mobile ad economies are not very good, but as demand goes up, hopefully the prices will go up.”
Are you surprised by BIA/Kelsey’s findings?
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Thursday, 22 November 2012

Free and Open Campaign

At the start of 2012, many internet companies and brands teamed up to fight against web censorship, in the forms of the SOPA (stop online piracy act) and PIPA (protect IP act) bill. It worked very well, but now a new threat looms over the free internet. And it's headed by the UN.
In December, nations around the world will be meeting in Dubai to discuss proposed changes to how the Internet is operated. Currently, much of the Internet is operated by ICANN, a neutral NGO. Some nations in the UN want to transfer its power to the ITU so that member nations in the UN can have more of a say in how the Internet works.
Open Web proponents immediately decried the idea, and the US has been investigating the potential harm such a change would cause. For their part, Google has started another “Take Action” campaign that asks citizens from around the world to demand a free and open Internet.
Going off of precedent alone, Google may very well be successful with its latest campaign. The search giant, along with other Internet companies, were instrumental in mobilizing US citizens against SOPA and PIPA in January.
Of course, there are some key differences between the SOPA blackout and now that could swing the campaign in either direction. For one, trusted brands and companies like Google, Facebook and Wikipedia all came out against the legislation with blackouts and other extreme visual messages. The proposed changes in the UN have had no such campaign yet, and prolific Internet figures like Mark Zuckerberg and Jimmy Wales have yet to issue strong statements against it.
Google’s campaign, however, could make all the difference. The company could inspire the same amount of fervor if it were to lay a doodle over its homepage again. The company hasn’t done that just yet, but we could see more action on the part of Google as we move closer to the UN gathering.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

If you use Facebook as a tool for promoting your business or brand, then you have probably noticed that Facebook has recently updated its EdgeRank, also known as its News Feed Algorithm.
Facebook is not trying to hide the fact that they want businesses to start paying to promote their posts. It is in Facebook's best interests if your posts are not showing up in people's newsfeeds. They want you to pay to have your posts appear there.
You might wonder if there is any hope in getting your posts noticed in Facebook's newsfeeds without having to pay to promote them. While it is not possible to have your posts appear to everyone who has "liked" your page (even if you pay to promote them), it is possible to improve your chances of having your posts noticed by keeping these tips in mind.
Keep Your Fans Coming Back for More
Many people post whatever comes into their head on Facebook, even on their business pages. Before you post, ask yourself if this is something that your fans would really be interested in seeing. The more posts your fans ignore, the less likely it is that your future posts will appear in their newsfeeds. Many people who "like" a page on Facebook never visit the page again. To get people coming back to your page, your content must be truly engaging.
Remember that negative interaction with your fans can actually count against you. If your fans think you are spamming them they can report your posts to Facebook, further reducing your chances of your future posts being seen.
So how do you get your Facebook fans to interact with your business page? First let's look at what Facebook's EdgeRank algorithm is measuring.
Facebook's EdgeRank Algorithm
EdgeRank takes into consideration how much you interact with your fans. The more interaction the better, especially if your fans are actively interacting with you by "liking" and commenting on your posts.
The EdgeRank algorithm also looks at what type of interaction your fans are having with your page. It gives greater weight to comments than "likes", and the more comments the better.
The algorithm looks at how long ago a post was created. The more recent the post, the more weight it is given.
It is important to remember that the more fans you have the better. If you have a big fan base and are showing ongoing interaction with your fans, the EdgeRank algorithm gives more weight to your Facebook updates.
Create Engaging Content
Before you post on your Facebook page, ask yourself what your fans would like to see. It is easy to fill your page with links to your web site or blog, which is not necessarily bad, but if your fans are not interacting with your posts, think about how you can vary or improve your content to generate more interest.
Images have been shown to create more fan engagement than just text links. People like to look at photos, and if you post some interesting pictures that people can relate to, they will be much more likely to leave a comment.
One of the most effective ways to get people to respond is to ask a question. Try to think of questions that many people can relate to. People like to talk about themselves, so ask a question that will get them talking about what is important to them. Their responses may just give you some ideas for new posts or articles.
When people do leave comments on your page, make sure to respond to their comments. Show your fans that you care about their thoughts and that you will respond to their questions and comments.
Contests and giveaways are also effective ways to increase fan engagement on your Facebook page. People always love to win things, and they will keep checking your page to see if they have won.
Time Posts to Increase User Engagement
Remember that most people are not logged into Facebook all day. Try to time your posts to the times of day when people are most likely to be checking their newsfeeds, such as first thing in the morning, at lunch time, and after dinner.
Unfortunately, there is no way to completely understand Facebook's EdgeRank algorithm. Facebook is slowly moving toward a pay-to-play model and business owners will either have to adapt to the new model or find another way to promote their businesses. Don't forget that creating useful, engaging content, however, will go a long way toward getting your posts viewed by more of your Facebook fans.