Measuring the value of branded communities has always been difficult. Community managers are often forced to fall back on the savings they generate for customer support teams, rather than reporting on the revenue they generate for the company.
Even worse, these communities consistently fail to live up to expectations on both sides of the screen. Posts become quickly outdated, content is stale, and engagement is low. Compared with vibrant third-party communities like Quora and Stack Overflow that exist across the social web, branded communities tend to perform dismally—in large part because they don’t offer their members any real return for their time and investment.
However, with this realization comes a shift in focus. New research from CMX, sponsored by Influitive, reveals that 27% of respondents are switching the main value of their community towards advocacy in order to better understand and engage their customers.
The 2017 Community Value and Metrics Report examines the state of branded communities today to understand the ways in which they are being used. It also examines which metrics have been adopted to track the value of these communities.
By understanding where organizations drive the most value from their communities, you can change course to face the direction that is most useful for both you and your customers. Read on for some key conclusions from the report, or download it here for a comprehensive look at the data.
Shifting from Traditional Support to Advocate-Driven Communities: Webinar
How the value of an online community is determined
Two-thirds (66%) of respondents agreed that they define a community as a group in which “members develop relationships with each other online or offline”. By making building connections between customers a priority, organizations will see greater engagement as customers become able to develop their networks and start seeing greater value in the community.
The report also revealed that 54% of organizations report measuring customer retention to demonstrate their community’s business value, making this the most popular metric. It is clear that more and more organizations are switching towards a model that focuses on this and other customer experience metrics, such as customer satisfaction ratings and customer loyalty (used by 37% and 31% of communities, respectively).
This shift in perspective helps organizations avoid falling into the trap of expecting their customers to do all the heavy lifting themselves without receiving any value in return. The communities driving the most value are those that are best able to engage their members and can track what that engagement is worth.
A growing focus on advocacy within branded communities
Although the traditional view of communities is as a location for customers to resolve their support issues, organizations are beginning to recognize that the meagre cost savings generated by this model isn’t really helping anyone. Only 21% of respondents are tracking percentage or number of answered questions to prove the business value of their communities, in contrast with the focus on retention mentioned above.
It’s for this reason that organizations are shifting focus to advocate communities, in which they can blend fun and educational asks and create connections between members. This allows them to begin asking their customers for feedback, as well as progressing to bigger asks, such as references and referrals. It also allows them to get to know their advocates better in order to give them what they really want from the community.
The organizations that are most likely to shift focus toward an advocate community are those that were originally using their community for content generation—in fact, 21% of communities who began with this focus reported switching to advocacy.
Why is this? According to the report, “Many companies who plan to use their community for content creation end up identifying key ambassadors and advocates who add value when given more structure and power from the brand. Their contribution becomes a lot clearer to measure and define.”
Plus, by uncovering their most passionate fans and providing value back to them, organizations are able to mobilize their communities more effectively than ever before.
For more trends in community marketing, and to learn more about metric selection and the internal impact of these communities, download The 2017 Community Value And Metrics Report.