On My Watch

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Community Metrics and Instrumentation

Why Communities Fail suggests traditional metrics used to measure communities are wrong:

"The third problem with online communities is how businesses go about measuring the success of their communities. Businesses say that their primary objectives are generating word-of-mouth marketing and increasing customer loyalty. Yet the metric that businesses use most often to measure success is the number of visits to the site. Moran points out that there isn’t much of a connection between what businesses want and what they’re measuring. Better metrics might be rankings in Google or the number of inbound links"

So what are the right metrics then? Yes, of course what is measured should be aligned with the goals of the community. But how? How should a community be instrumented?
In my view, the top metrics (selected from a larger list courtesy of GetClicky ) to choose from include:
  • links
  • links-outbound
  • site-rank
  • visitors
  • visitors-unique
  • actions-average
  • time-average
  • bounce-rate
  • visitors-online
  • feedburner-subscribers

And inbound link statistics, in particular, are a good indicator of real, organic community traction and are applicable to nearly all community types. Plus tools like GetClicky provide them - as shown here

And additional ones to watch include:
  • Twitter-use - since its use is rapidly increasing and creates a useful snapshot in time
  • Cross-community links, such as Facebook for consumer-focused communities, LinkedIn for business/executive-focused communities or even Apache mailing lists for developer-oriented ones.
But, I have yet to see a really good model for which to use when and which ones to really bank on.

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