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.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , ,

A financial perspective on the measurement of the ROI of an Online Community

large__3418499435If you decide to invest in an online community, how do you know that it will pay off? Especially for non-profits,  every investment should have a reasonable return-on-investment (ROI). Every dollar needs to be spend wisely.

Non-profits obviously want to understand and see through the relative impact of their online community efforts. The ideal situation would be to be able to determine quantifiable business results that are directly extractable to the online community. In reality, however, this is a very challenging (almost impossible) task due to a variety of reasons.

Continue reading

Tagged , , ,

Management and control of your Online Community

large__380840630We have come to the point that it is important to discuss management and control. (stage 10 in my decision matrix). Your organization can launch a wonderful community, with great content, and even better tools, but if the community is not managed well, it will probably become a failure. “New technologies make new economies, and new economies make new jobs” says blogger Daren Brabham. Community management is an “emerging and fast growing profession, especially given the growth of branded online communities” (MacAlpine).

Continue reading

Tagged , , ,

Shaping the Community frame: Content

large__2597109669In this post I explained what specific needs member fulfil in an online community. Information seeking, relationship building, helping others, self-expression et cetera are some examples of needs that members satisfy in online communities. With the corresponding Maslow’s hierarchy of needs model, that I designed and showed you, we could clearer see the importance of these needs. I also discussed how brands can foster and sustain engagement in their online communities, by describing a three-stage process that managers can use to turn their community members into highly engaged contributors. I emphasized the importance of encouraging content creation and co-creation among members. Creating enjoyable experiences for your members is also an important element.

In this post, I like to translate all of this into a concrete advice for non-profit organizations. What should be the content of your online community if you want to turn it into a lively, vibrant place where your target group will show sustainable engagement? Continue reading

Tagged , , ,

Shaping the Community frame: Platform – Part 2

large__2815083396In part one of this post, I showed you the interesting perspectives I got from the community experts on classification 1 (UNICEF should build an entire new platform that they own by themselves) and two (UNICEF should use existing social media platforms to build their community on). In this post, I will continue with classification 3, 4 and 5. I will also give an analysis of the results of these different perspectives and give a conclusion on the community platform decision.

Continue reading

Tagged , , ,

Shaping the Community frame: Platform – Part 1

large__3045809413Deciding on the best community platform type for a non-profit  is another important step. It is the part that I got the most different opinions about. I first like to make clear that there is a difference between online communities and social media platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc.). Deborah Weinstein, president of Strategic Objectives, illustrates social media strikingly as: “the new Wild, Wild West of Marketing, with brands, businesses, and organizations jostling with individuals to make news, friends, connections and build communities in the virtual space”. Continue reading

Tagged , , ,

Shaping the Community frame: Focus (model: t-shirt matrix)

large__7434014840Stage 7 is an important stage in the decision matrix. I am convinced that the focus, platform and content of a community will heavily influence the chance that you will have success or not. Do you remember the figure about the online community types that was presented in an earlier post? In this post all of these elements will be discussed. We are going to look what focus the community of a non-profit should have. Brand-focused or generally-focused? Continue reading

Tagged , , , ,

Is an Online Community strategy necessary and relevant for UNICEF or other non-profits?

large__6384704645This is stage 3 in the decision matrix that I introduced in my last post. I think here an important question is on the agenda. As has been described in the decision matrix section, the answer on this question will mainly depend on the results of an extensive internal and external analysis that your non-profit will need to do.  As described in earlier posts, there are hundreds of examples of brands that already invested in online communities. There are not many examples yet of non-profit organizations which also invested in them.  I found it interesting to see what the community experts and managers thought about this issue. Continue reading

Tagged , , ,

Strategic perspective on the creation of an Online Community – Decision matrix model

large__1747917718Based on the theories learned during my studies at University (Strategic Management, Marketing etc.) and the new insights I gained about online communities, I was able to design a new model for non-profits like UNICEF: a decision matrix (see the figure in this post) that non-profits can use in their decision whether or not to invest in a brand community and if so, which issues they need to consider. I believe that the strategic decision of creating a brand community can be divided into 11 stages. My decision matrix highlights this process. Continue reading

Tagged , , ,

How Online Communities work : Fostering and sustaining engagement in online communities (model)

large__853070269How do you foster and sustain engagement among members in your online community? This is a question a lot of managers struggle with. A decreased commitment is the main reason why a lot of online communities fail after a couple of months.  It is an enormous challenge to keep members engaged for the long run. Branded communities will have to compete with hundreds of other websites and social media platforms that people can spend their time on. Besides, people (especially the young generation) like to hang out where their friends are, for example on Facebook or Twitter. What can managers do to ensure that their online community becomes and maintains vibrant, lively and successful? Continue reading

Tagged , ,