The Quantitative And Qualitative Value Of Your Online Community

December 9, 2012 — by Tim McDonald0



The Quantitative And Qualitative Value Of Your Online Community

December 9, 2012 — by Tim McDonald0

Greg Meyer on My Community Manager Hangout

Justifying your job as a community manager often comes from proving the value of your online community. Easy to say. Not so easy to do. So how do you go about determining the value of your online community? There are both “soft” or qualitative measurements and “hard” or quantitative measurements as explained by our guest, Greg Meyer, of You can read more from Greg about the topic “How Do You Quantify The Value Of Your Online Community

We we’re joined on the Google Hangout by: Jonathan Brewer, Ally Greer, Greg Meyer, Garrett Button, Andrea Bredow, Steve Cassady, Karen Schulman Dupuis, Eric Herberholz and Rosemary O’Neill. Sherrie Rohde moderated our Twitter Chat using #cmgrhangout. We had 60 people join us on Twitter and produced over 500 Tweets!

Here’s a summary of the Tweets for #cmgrhangout in a visually pleasing slideshow:

The Value Of Your Online Community

What is the value of your online community? What are the soft, qualitative measures and what are the hard, quantitative measures?

Storified by Tim McDonald · Sun, Dec 09 2012 11:02:35

The introductions…
Hey everyone! Sherrie here from @sweettooth! Also handle #cmotd here at @myCMGR and am way too active in the @magento world. 🙂 #cmgrhangoutSherrie Rohde
Hi friends! #cmgrhangoutGarrett Button
Hi everyone! I’m Tim, #cmgr with @HuffPostLive and founder of @myCMGR Excited to have @grmeyer join us! #cmgrhangoutTim McDonald
Managerial Consultant, Volunteer Community Manager, and Linkedin Coach in Kansas City #cmgrhangoutSteve Cassady
I’m Elisabeth, social media marketing & community manager for @ubervu. #cmgrhangoutElisabeth Michaud
OK, guess I’m twitter-only today…hey everybody! #cmgrhangoutRosemary O’Neill
Hi Everyone, Have a good day #cmgrhangoutMichael Hahn
Multitasking. In a meeting and keeping tabs on #cmgrhangout Gwynne Monahan
Just hopped on today’s #cmgrhangout with @grmeyer! Great topic today: "What’s The Value of Your Online Community"ë Geddes-Soltess
I’m so very late but happy to be here via Twitter! Hi @tamcdonald! #cmgrhangoutJeannie Walters
I’m Josh Isom, community manager at Trendy Entertainment. I won’t be able to stay long. Just wanted to say hi! #cmgrhangoutJosh Isom
Hey everyone, Alison here, I am a #CommunityManager at @Trulia! #cmgrhangoutAlison Hillman
Hey, Simon here, #CMGR for @HarvardAlumni #cmgrhangoutSimon Goodacre
Whoo hooo! My favorite @allygreer is rocking #CMGRhangout yet again! I may have a crush on you Ally….Carter Gibson
Our highest attendee…
@tamcdonald Quick pop-in to #cmgrhangout from 30,000 feet. Do I get extra credit for devotion?Tom Buchheim
Now the questions…
Q1) What is an online community? #cmgrhangoutTim McDonald
Loaded question? “@tamcdonald Q1) What is an online community? #cmgrhangout”Gwynne Monahan
We can’t see, touch or experience a community and each one is like a snowflake. #cmgrhangoutTim McDonald
No two communities are the same – this is one of the most difficult parts of being a #cmgr #cmgrhangoutAlly Greer
A1) A community is an organized group of people united by a common interest or mission. #cmgrhangoutRosemary O’Neill
It is so true that most of the community is lurking!!! #cmgrhangoutJewel Fryer
Split of community: 90% lurkers; 9% ready to pounce and 1% engage occasionally. But they all have connection. #cmgrhangoutJeannie Walters
Believe it or, I lurk more than I engage. #cmgrhangoutTim McDonald
A2) An online community = brand advocates #cmgrhangoutShelby
Couldn’t agree more @gbutton. There are so many different definitions of value.. #cmgrhangoutAlly Greer
i disagree, i seen communities cannibalize each other causing more harm then good because they didnt differientiate #cmgrhangoutMichael Hahn
@tamcdonald people who share common interests #cmgrhangoutShelby
Communities aren’t always defined by engagement. Active participation =the goal, but there are lots of observers out there too! #cmgrhangoutAlison Hillman
A1) An online community is a close-knit family. Connected by a common interest but with many different opinions about it. #cmgrhangoutJosh Isom
Just found #cmgrhangout cc @NEOGOV @HRcloud @GovernmentJobs A1 Customer feedback + employees expertise = PR + branding on twitter/facebookALEX BOTTOM
Q2) How can you evaluate the value of an online community? #cmgrhangoutTim McDonald
@myCMGR A2 good question. depends on the community. on the brand. on the purpose. #cmgrhangoutEmily Zei
"If you want to evaluate a community, look at the stories that emerge." —@grmeyer #cmgrhangoutSherrie Rohde
@myCMGR it has to be done objectively because everyone treats it as their baby #cmgrhangoutMichael Hahn
A2) To know the value, you must have established the reason for your participation in the community up-front. #cmgrhangoutRosemary O’Neill
Tell a story with your numbers. Don’t just present the numbers. #cmgrhangoutTim McDonald
A2) Evaluation should be based on quality of interaction, not quantity. #cmgrhangoutJosh Isom
A2: depends on what type, who you’re asking. Value can be one thing for a brand, something else for a community member. #cmgrhangoutElisabeth Michaud
@tamcdonald Stories give faces and build relationships rather than creating more statistics. #cmgrhangoutSherrie Rohde
1st measure of community – what will provide a green traffic light on the executive report? via @grmeyer Love that! #cmgrhangoutJeannie Walters
A2. Measure a community depends on your overall goals #cmgrhangoutShelby
@emichaud A2 Depends on channel too. Value on FB is different than value on Twitter #cmgrhangoutEmily Zei
A2) Depends on goals. For us, it’s about members connecting with us + each other. Increases value of the degree on the wall! #cmgrhangoutSimon Goodacre
@sgoodacre Love that connections are important to you guys. Relationships are priceless. #cmgrhangoutSherrie Rohde
#cmgrhangout A2 Quality information attracts your industry & value derives from peers vetting your expertise & transferring authority to youALEX BOTTOM
Q3) What are "hard" or quantitative measurements you can use? #cmgrhangoutTim McDonald
Important quantitative measure of community = attendance driven by community to real-life events, locations via @karensd #cmgrhangoutJeannie Walters
A3) I’ll be honest. Finding quantitative value measurements has been very difficult for me. #cmgrhangoutJosh Isom
A3) New posts, new registrations, time since last login, page views, brand mentions #cmgrhangoutRosemary O’Neill
A3) Not always easy to measure (actually, usually v. difficult), but ROI – on time and $ spent – is always on my mind. #cmgrhangoutElisabeth Michaud
Great insight on quantitative community ROI: how many inbound requests/activity v. outreach via @tamcdonald #cmgrhangoutJeannie Walters
A3) For alumni association: Dues Paying Members, Attendance at Events, Information/Updates Contributed via social activities #cmgrhangoutSteve Cassady
Another great KPI: where and what # of users are sharing your content within their own network? Sharing #’s via @tamcdonald #cmgrhangoutJeannie Walters
I think it’s always great to see relationships on one platform transpose to another. That makes a connection real to me… #cmgrhangoutSimon Goodacre
A3) continued Alumni meetups coordinated through social media. #cmgrhangoutSteve Cassady
What about traffic insights? I find social drives SO much of the traffic to our site, I like to track progress. #cmgrhangoutJeannie Walters
@jeanniecw My old community had traffic goals. This community is about engagement. Depends on goals of the organization. #cmgrhangoutSimon Goodacre
#cmgrhangout A3 Its a mixed bag of metrics on @topsy @bitly @googleanalytics @facebook Insights @twitter @klout but ultimately sales is keyALEX BOTTOM
Q4) What are "soft" or qualtitative measurements you can use? #cmgrhangoutTim McDonald
a3) for qualitative, it’s whether or not conversations are happening organically. If I took a day off, would they still happen? #cmgrhangoutElisabeth Michaud
Numbers are important, but qualitative measurement is also key. It’s those personal interactions that make great stories. #cmgrhangoutZoë Geddes-Soltess
While quantitative fluff makes the heads nod in my favor, sharing my stories & interactions is when the understanding sets in. #cmgrhangoutBlair Hite
What qualitative measurements do you use for community? Advocates, comments, interactions, success stories? #cmgrhangoutZoë Geddes-Soltess
A4) Qualitative measurement comes from how you put value on the numbers. #cmgrhangoutTim McDonald
A4 another good qualitative measurement for me is brand recognition outside community: knowing who we are before I tell them. #cmgrhangoutElisabeth Michaud
OMG what Greg just said about using real customer photos was AWESOME #cmgrhangoutRosemary O’Neill
What you give the community should be qualitative, what the community gives you should be quantitative. #cmgrhangoutGarrett Button
Is a lack of negative feedback an accurate indicator? Looking at neutral versus positive sentiment is also important. #cmgrhangoutZoë Geddes-Soltess
Great community management is great story telling ~ @grmeyer #cmgrhangoutTim McDonald
The trend in business is moving away from story telling…but that’s what community does best! #cmgrhangoutJeannie Walters
My biggest frustration is when data is collected for data’s sake. The insights from data are what tell the story. #cmgrhangoutJeannie Walters
That’s my story, sticking 2 it @CarterGee "Great community management is great storytelling." Nothing truer has ever been said #cmgrhangoutJewel Fryer
Storytelling has ALWAYS been valuable. For instance, most famous ads in ’20s told stories. Why? Because it’s effective. #CMGRhangoutCarter Gibson
Q5) How can you start doing this? Qualifying your online community, that is. #cmgrhangoutTim McDonald
CMs humanize brands. Needless to say, knowing how to deal with all sorts of personalities translates to our personal lives too #CMGRhangoutCarter Gibson
A great community manager talks geek and regular simultaneously. via @grmeyer #cmgrhangoutJeannie Walters
@grmeyer Yes, I always jokingly refer to myself as a translator between our dev team and our users. #cmgrhangoutSherrie Rohde
.@grmeyer says to check out –> #cmgrhangoutTim McDonald
"Stuff will happen if you do stuff." – @gbutton #CMGRHangoutJonathan Brewer
Some final reminders…
Don’t forget to apply for Community Manager of the Day! We’d love to show you off –> #cmgrhangoutMy Community Manager
So many good conversations today as always! Feel free to continue it here or in the @google community –> #cmgrhangoutMy Community Manager
Thanks for joining us today! Subscribe to our blog if you want to stay in the know for future hangouts –> #cmgrhangoutMy Community Manager
Today is the LAST CHANCE for Community Manager Secret Santa! Sign up here –> #cmgr #cmgrhangoutMy Community Manager
Visit us at for more online and offline events for community managers. 

And here’s the complete Community Manager Hangout (that can also be viewed on YouTube)

What do you think? We asked:

Q1) What is an online community?
Q2)  How can you evaluate the value of an online community?
Q3) What are “hard” or quantitative measurements you can use?
Q4) What are “soft” or qualtitative measurements you can use?
Q5) How can you start doing this?
Be sure to join us every Friday for our Community Manager Hangout. Sign up and be notified of each weeks topic.
Do you have a topic or guest you think we should host on a future Community Manager Hangout? Leave a comment below.

Tim McDonald

None of us are alone. That is Tim’s mission in life. To let everyone know they are not alone. It’s why helping others doing social good is his purpose.

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