Measuring community for the non-techie

If, in this(still) number-obssessed – bo(b)sessed – world, someone asks, how would you measure a community’s success in non-technical ways, what would I say?

Proxy Measurement

Not a new idea, but still worth looking at. Partly because sometimes we have no choice.

Proxy measurement is the measure of some other indicator to reflect on the performance of the social media campaign under scrutiny. Say for example, you have sales figure X before you start a new social media campaign. Note that down. After the campaign, check out the figure again. Is it X+Y now? Then Y is the ap-proxy-mate gain the campaign caused. May. Have caused.

Look at it with common sense. During the social media campaign, did you post something of note that caused a big change/spike in sales? On that day, did sales/pageviews go up? It’s quite often we say that “The photo post on Tuesday attracted a lot of comments and likes, and that appeared to have boosted sales. We made 15 more sales that day then usual.” Common sense says the stars are aligned and something nice happened. So, might as well make it a little bit more powerpoint-presentable and state that:

12 comments and 80 likes resulted in 15 more sales.

Do this multiple times and you’ll have more and more data, and begin to see patterns.

Not precise enough? Speculative? Rubbish? Hey, remember, there was a time when computers and Google Analytics and even Excel did not exist. How did businesses measure sales performance then?

“I had my guy stand in the street giving out flyers at 6pm and I made about 10 more sales than usual on a Monday evening.”

“Our newspaper ad went up on Thursday and traffic in the store increased by 100-150 people, resulting in 15 more sales than usual.”

“Over 2012 our fan page increased its fan base by 10,000 likes. 8000 likes were amassed during our social media campaign. The average number of likes and comments on our posts have gone up by about 25% comparing from one year ago. “

It’s common sense logic.  It looks speculative at first when you have just started, so you have a very small sample size. Do this over years and you’ll have 100, 500 samples to form clear patterns. It’s worth a shot.

Anecdotal Evidence

You’re in a meeting and your boss asks you how’s the website/Facebook page doing. You can report the numbers, month after month. But you know there’s one thing far more powerful, effective and memorable – a customer’s compliment.

No one really remembers actual numbers (only that they are going up. Or worse, down). But if you show customers being happy with the company’s services, showing positive sentiments, or recommending your product – that sticks in the minds of people (like da boss), because it is a source of great satisfaction and pride. Every business wants the comfort of knowing their customers are happy.

So, collect these like the rare artifacts they are: customers’ positive feedback. Embed their quotes on your presentation slides, tag them with real names. Even if your numbers are not impressive, a single compliment from a customer can cause wonders. Even if you have a complaint from a customer, use it as an opportunity to show how you handle a crisis.

Businesses regularly do surveys to collect both numbers as well as “Any Other Comments” – you’re doing the same thing, without incurring the cost of running a physical survey. So collect these comments, categorize them (positive, negative, suggestions, opportunities) and report them. You might even be surprised how many approving nods you can get from a screenshot from a nice comment on a Facebook page.


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