To really focus on the growth of your online community, factors such as community traffic, activity, number of users, etc., are important, but delving deeper may prove more valuable. Monitoring activity within your online community means you are analyzing, understanding and responding to conversations about brands, products, reputation and end-user opinion. How do you monitor this information?
Here are four ways to monitor your community's health:
- Social Bookmarking
Are users at popular bookmarking sites like Del.icio.us, Ma.gnolia, or Stumbleupon tagging the pages of your site that are viral in nature i.e., articles, insightful posts, etc? If so, how many people are conducting such activities on a monthly basis? Additionally, is there a significant increase after you have conducted community marketing activities?
- Content Consumption & Contribution
It is imperative that you closely monitor who is reading and contributing to your blog and/or community before, during, and after you begin a marketing campaign, in order to have a true depiction of campaign success or failure. Additionally, finding out where users came from, as well as which pages they viewed and for how long can provide invaluable insight for reaching more people with future campaigns. It is also important to measure spikes over time by making comparisons with past campaigns via your analytics program to see which campaigns were effective as well as which ones are not worth repeating.
- E-mail Posts
If you allow your site posts to be e-mailed to others then it will be a good idea to see how many are being sent to other people through your site's e-mail form. This metric is a strong indicator as to whether or not your content is being portrayed by site users as viral.
- Social Media Profile Engagement
Profiles at sites like MySpace, FaceBook, or LinkedIn can be used to gauge whether your community is gaining any traction amongst other general or professional networking portals online. Each site has its own metrics to review (i.e., profile visits, comments, networking requests, etc.) and they will help you gauge how much exposure your brand has in these socially geared environments. Plus, you may also make some good business contacts by actively having an online presence and constantly monitoring your profiles in these social portals online.
Standard community metrics are the quickest way to get a pulse on the health of your community. But by delving a bit deeper and listening to your community members and tracking meaningful metrics, you can make informed improvements over time.
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