By Ted McEnroe, Director of Research and Training, The Community Roundtable
It’s here! Months of data gathering and analysis. Hundreds of thousands of data points. More than 100 charts. Today, we release the most comprehensive State of Community Management report in our history.
This year’s report is a collaborative effort, involving not just the members of TheCR team, but members of TheCR Network who gave their time to the State of Community Management Working Group, and hundreds of community professionals – 339 in all – who invested the time to take the SOCM survey.
Now in its 7th year, this research has turned the tacit art of community management into the explicit discipline of community management. We now know how to build successful communities. That is enormous progress and it has been rewarded with the strategic spotlight. Communities are now seen as the most effective way to deliver on a range of complex goals from delivering digital transformation to enabling integrated customer experiences to creating a culture of innovation.
That strategic spotlight is burning brightly, putting pressure on community professionals to demonstrate value and community ROI. It’s a tall order and it’s time for community professionals to prove themselves.
Our 2016 key findings are broken down by strategy, operations and tactics:
Strategy: Defining shared value drives success.
Communities that define the value of community for their members that overlaps with the value for the organization outperform those that don’t explicitly do so. And communities where the shared value is defined and can be measured handily outperform all others in the survey.
Operations: Empowering members accelerates engagement.
In last year’s The State of Community Management 2015, we highlighted the importance of strong advocacy programs. This year, we take a broader view. Communities that give their members real opportunities in the community – to lead programs and give actionable feedback – also achieve higher levels of engagement.
Tactics: Measure what you want to see, not what you have.
Our third finding suggests that communities need to be aspirational in their metrics instead of settling for what is easily available. Measuring behaviors and outcomes rather than just activity correlates with overall community maturity. That’s a challenge for a couple of reasons – those metrics can be harder to define and they can be harder to track in many platforms.
However, tracking behaviors gets at the heart of how the community generates value. It also taps into an important part of human nature. If you measure something, and you hold yourself accountable for it, you are more likely to do things to improve yourself in that area. Measure “members online” and you’ll try to improve members online. Measure “questions answered” and you’ll try to improve the number of questions answered. Which one has more value to a community and to the organization?
We can’t wait to hear what you think – tag your thoughts with #SOCM2016 to join the conversation!
There is a lot more in the report – including an expanded section on measuring ROI using a straightforward metric – answers. It’s a topic for another post – but the bottom line is clear. Communities are now seen as strategic enablers. Executives are watching and listening. But if we can’t or don’t show how communities drive business value over the next 18 to 24 months – that attention will go away, potentially to the latest shiny object like the idea of using chatbots instead of community managers to generate engagement.
But the thing is – communities do work and they work because of excellent community management. For the third straight year our data disproves the “90–9–1 rule” of engagement and our ROI findings show that those who can measure their ROI can post remarkable numbers.
We hope this report is the next step forward in helping you quantify the value of community. There will be a lot more to come and we have many other resources and services to help you deliver on the promise of community.
Learn more about The State of Community Management and ask your own questions. Higher Logic and The Community Roundtable present the State of Community Management 2016 Release Webinar: Wednesday, May 25 at 2pm ET. Register now on higherlogic.com.