Measuring the ROI of your Online Community efforts + engagement pyramid model

large__4105747756I asked several community experts to advise me on how to measure the ROI of an online community. Most experts said that the ROI of online communities and social media efforts are almost impossible to calculate. According to them, there are still no real valid metrics on the market. How to justify your online (community) practices is the B-I-G question for many managers. So why is it that so many brands dive into something that seems immeasurable?  How do they ask for a budget if they cannot present a reasonable ROI?

Luckily, I found some ways that could help non-profit organizations in the process of seeking a way to determine their ROI.

What can non-profit organizations do to measure the ROI of their Community Efforts?

The more people love your community and brand, the more they will show their engagement. Let’s say your Facebook page has 5000 Likes. What does that really mean? Anyone can click on the ‘Like’ button. It does not yet mean that the person absolutely loves your organization, your work or cares enough to comment and/or share it with friends and eventually engage.

My own engagement pyramid

I tried to visualize the levels of interaction that people can show during online community efforts in the figure below. How engaged people are show up in their actions: the more engaged they are, the more they will interact. The more they interact, the more engaged they ‘become’. In the first level, fans can visit your community or like your Facebook page. You know that they start to care more about your brand when they turn their observation into commenting and contributing. At the most engaged level they act. In the case of nonprofits for example, they might donate, volunteer or become a monthly supporter.  The higher the levels in the pyramid, the easier it is to identify clear metrics to measure your ROI. In an earlier post I showed you how online communities evolve in a community life cycle.  I showed that in the very first stage, inception, it is very difficult to measure and determine the ROI. In the maturity phase, you should be able to have some clearly established ROI metrics. This correlates with the pyramid that I have composed below.

Model: Engagement Pyramid

If your community becomes more mature, there will be higher levels of interaction and thus more engagement. The more engaged a person is and starts to act, the easier it is to identify ROI metrics.

So how do you measure engagement in your online community? Find out in my next post!

Until next time,

Anne-Sophie Gaspersz

Photo credit: Alan Cleaver via photopin cc

Photography: Alan Cleaver

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