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Ask Dows: Measuring the Value Of A Community Manager

Measuring Value

What specific metrics can be tracked to demonstrate the value of what community managers are doing? In other words, what are some good methods to show to your client or company that the work you do both online and offline to engage customer communities is valuable to them?

— Kari Finn

Great question—thanks, Kari. We’ve had a few questions around measuring the value of community managers so I’ll throw some ideas out there to help.

To me, it’s important to look at the community health over time as community managers develop, nurture and grow the community. That might mean a single forum or a whole network of sites. So, there are a few different metrics to look at to gauge the health of a community.

Here are some trusty ones:

Positive or Negative Sentiment

This is a good metric to look at because you can point to a few different insights. You could look at the positive sentiment in the community or where the community manager has impacted the brand perception. Some questions and thoughts to guide the data include: Understanding if the positive sentiment is growing? What examples show that the community manager has engaged to create positive sentiment? Or, conversely, where has a community manager stepped in to alleviate some negative sentiment?

Time to First Response

There’s been a bit of data published and some criticisms about how long it takes brands to respond to questions from customers on social media as well as the amount of questions go unanswered. There’s obviously a strong customer service and brand advocacy to community management and a metric like ‘time to first response’ or ‘percentage questions answered in a certain time frame’ can really show the value of having dedicated community managers engaging on social networks.

Engagement per Post

‘Per Post’ metrics can often be overlooked because they don’t usually come in your standard metrics insights box. However, it’s a good number to look at across your posts and updates to get an overview on engagement. You could look at replies or average number of comments per post, for example.

Posts by Non-Employees

This is a simple one. But by looking at posts by customers and your audience, you can get insights into the level of unprompted interaction from your audience. Having customers respond to brand posts is great for engagement but it’s even more special to see your audience willing to take the first step. Gartner lists this as a great metric for understanding the health of your community which extends to the community manager.

Change in Distribution

You might also look at where your audience is interacting with your brand as well as how that is changing over time. One quick example: you may have a strong community following on Facebook, but as your company moves into a new market, there’s a need for a support community. After time, the support community might outgrow your Facebook community and bring different benefits, like a reduced need for customer support because questions are being answered in the forum.

Share of Voice

Community managers can really help amplify the share of voice for their brand and so this might also be a good metric to understand and track. Share of voice is basically measuring how much of the chatter across social networks is about your company. It ties closely with sentiment meaning that the goal is to get a lot of positive chatter and a big share of voice.

Of course, these metrics sit on top of basic KPIs that you collect and measure such as overall size of the communities, general engagement and reach metrics, for example.

Not all of these will apply and you might need to prioritize based on your resources and ability to access the data, but plenty of social media measurement tools out there can help you with these metrics. The good news is that, given the right tools, there are a few data options out there to highlight the value of community managers to a client.

Have questions about data and your community? Get your questions answered here, and visit the Ask Dows About Data column to learn more about community data.

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About the author

Chris Dowsett

Chris Dowsett (or Dows for short) is your friendly data analyst, statistician and numbers person. Originally from Australia, Chris works for Intuit as a social media analytics manager. He's also studying a Doctorate focused on improving data use in business decision making.

6 comments
JoeManna
JoeManna

While these qualities are functional metrics are very valuable, they miss the two that write our checks. 

Specifically: 

-- REVENUE: How much revenue did our community and/or social efforts yield the company? Similarly, how much cost-savings can we associate due to our social program? 

-- OPPORTUNITIES: How many new opportunities (leads, prospects, etc.) did the community and/or social efforts generate? 

Truthfully, the executive team and the CEO doesn't care how quick we responded to a blog post. He cares that we did it successfully and it yielded a return for the company. Of course, that doesn't mean that *I* don't care about how quick I respond, but that's a different story. 

terakristen
terakristen

I find that most employers look at some of these as vanity metrics. Especially "engagement" measured as likes or retweets, or what have you. 

How do you tie your metrics back to sales or sign-ups? Those are the metrics that employers appear to care about the most...

TonyHymes
TonyHymes

Very good article Dows, but the engagement per post metric is tricky considering that certain types of content get way more love than others (images vs. links, for example). This poses a problem for a community manager who wants to engage their community with relevant content, but ends up with minimal interaction from an explanatory link or blog post compared to a funny photo of the team at a party. What would be better would be to look at the change in engagement per post throughout the tenure of a community manager. If photos used to get 5 likes on FB for example, but now they get 25 (we are a small community at Whyd) the community manager has been doing their job. But if links used to get no likes and now get 3 or 5, that is a gigantic improvement. Advice would be to look at how the community manager increases the engagement per post, within the context, and keep track of what each type of content is trying to achieve: propagating the vision, explaining functionality, or branding the team. 

ChrisDowsett
ChrisDowsett

@JoeManna That's true - these are functional and specifically linked to the value of day-to-day activities of our community manager. If we take it up a level as we look at social media/communities as one integrated unit - that's where we match social to revenue opportunities. Community managers are a (very important) function of that through things like customer service (leads to lower customer attrition) and brand reach (reduced paid marketing costs and increased new customers). So the community manager metrics tie up to broader social activities that will lead to revenue, opportunities, efficiency savings, improved collaboration and various other components to social ROI. 

TonyHymes
TonyHymes

@terakristen yep, exactly, if the primary goal of building a community is to gain word of mouth growth for new customers or users, the content that you share should always link to something (like your FB page or blog) with a clear call to action and sign up link. With Google Analytics you can see where people are coming from to your sign up page, and with close monitoring you can see if the content you are sharing is achieving your goal. 

The true value of social sharing metrics is that it tells you what your community wants, so you can adjust the content that you share to increase the engagement. If people aren't clicking on your links to 20 page visionary white papers, maybe try sharing quotes from a founder or making images with excerpts from longer information. Like Dows said yesterday in the comments, it's about how a community manager can increase the ratios over time.  

ChrisDowsett
ChrisDowsett

@TonyHymes Great point Tony. It's definitely important to put the numbers in context (as you mentioned, images might get more love) and look at how the community manager develops the community over time. So looking at growth and changes in these ratios is very important.