Much like the corporate land grab for a website in the mid 1990’s, the late 2000’s saw a similar land grab around setting up online social networks. Both were created initially “because everyone else has one” with little regard to what it could do (or should do for that matter). The first iterations of the website were no more than online versions of a company’s marketing material. Over time, as forward thinking marketers began to test the limits of being online and the sites began to morph into something useful. Today, corporate social networks or communities (as they are sometimes referred) are just now beginning to test the limits of how they can add value back to the company beyond branding and product marketing.
Initial metrics included things like page views, time on site, # of likes, # of comments, # of shares all of which are valid for marketers when comparing investments in marketing mediums. Smart companies however, are starting to look beyond impressions and explore other ways to leverage the investments in community including IT, headcount to manage the site and the opportunity cost of not doing something else with those resources.
If there is one consistent thing that companies get wrong initially, it’s trying to copy the wrong competitor’s community. The truth is that there is no one “right” way to build, manage and measure a community because every company’s needs, skills and platforms are different. Companies have to identify a business objective or issue that can be improved by interacting differently, then go execute better than anyone else. Setting up a community is the easy part. Having the fortitude to measure/test/learn/rinse/repeat over the long term is the hard part.
The opportunity is one like never before. If a company can re-imagine their business with these new ways to communicate and interact, they will have a distinct advantage over their competitors who take a long time to figure this out. To better understand how to build and measure a community successfully, we went to the front lines with Lauren Vargas, the community manager at Aetna. Lauren’s expertise is shining through in this emerging field and we are happy to have her experience to lead this week’s discussion. The topic and questions for #sm129 will be:
Topic: Your Company’s Social Network: How Do You Know If It’s Worth It
Q1: How do you measure impact within your community?
Q2: How do you differentiate and/or blend quantitative and qualitative metrics?
Q3: How do you measure community efforts if management is outsourced?
Please join us in this online chat on Tuesday, September 27 at noon ET. Follow #sm129 from your favorite Twitter client or simply go to our LIVE page at www.hashtagsocialmedia.com/live. The format will stay the same with the first question starting at noon and a new question coming every 20 minutes at 12:20 and 12:40.