As we sift through the survey data from this year’s quantitative State of Community Management, one area the research advisory board has called specific attention to is how organizations are defining and measuring the success of a community. The survey results allow us to add to the context we already have about this topic by breaking it down by the different types of business communities.
Survey respondents classified their communities in one of three categories, and responses were almost equally distributed between the three:
- Exclusive: The community has qualifications or barriers to entry, a “home base” online and membership is explicit.
- Discrete: The community has a “home base” online, and membership is somewhat explicit and based on participation.
- Distributed: The community interacts in various places online, and membership is vague.
Some of our findings include:
- Exclusive communities were more likely to be able to quantify the value of community management. More than 50 percent of respondents from exclusive communities reported this value compared with approximately 25 percent of discrete communities and 30 percent of distributed communities.
- Discrete communities were less likely to report ROI of the community. Less than 10 percent said they can measure it compared to approximately 30 percent of distributed communities and 25 percent of exclusive communities.
- The more explicit the membership in a community is, the more likely member stats (numbers of total members, active members, contributing members) are regularly measured and reported.
- Exclusive and discrete communities were more likely to report seeing a change in the way their organizations’ employees work as a result of their community programs. Nearly 90 percent of both exclusive and discrete communities reported at least some kind of change, and exclusive communities were slightly more likely to report more significant changes. Approximately 70 percent of distributed communities were seeing change.
And what are some of the changes they are seeing?
- Increased speed and access to knowledge/expertise (the top benefit of the community program reported by distributed communities)
- Increased employee engagement (the top benefit reported by exclusive communities)
- Increased satisfaction for core audience (a higher percentage of distributed communities reported this, with discrete communities closely following)
More research results coming soon – we’re looking forward to bringing it all together for you later this spring!
The Community Roundtable’s research turns tacit knowledge learned from TheCR Network members into explicit knowledge, which, in turn, can help others understand how leading organizations are innovating their management techniques.