It’s Time To Focus On Generating A Positive ROI For Your Online Community

(Richard Millington) #1

Originally published at:
Many community professionals are measured and rewarded by their ability to increase activity. But the gap between activity and value is wide and growing. The tasks which best boost activity (e.g. controversial discussions, less challenging interactions, and games/quizzes/events) don’t create more value…they just create more activity. You incur extra costs managing that activity. Thus increasing activity tends to boosts costs more than value. If we exclude advertising-supported communities, only a tiny percentage of interactions generate anything resembling value. You can see these in the following table: A table showing the ROI of online communities You might have a community with…

(joel galbraith) #2

Ugh, a frustrating week. We (under my excellent community manager, @cwilson’s, leadership) have been working for months building a case for a new community platform, identifying user stories and criteria, painstakingly comparing vendors, justifying it, and securing budget. Just when it was about to be a done deal, some challenges surfaced and resources are being diverted away to higher need projects. The reason? “Your department is low risk.”

The work we are doing in our woefully inadequate (and manual) community platform is deemed sufficiently adequate–and even outright successful! I can’t decide if we’ve fallen victim to our own success, or if I’ve fallen down as a leader in communicating the value of our team to the organization (communicating our ROI)…or both. I’m still licking my wounds, and hopeful that funding may come available again next year. In my disheartened state, I can’t yet turn back to the drawing board and the ROI tools to revisit and sharpen our ROI proposition for management.

While we’ve been focused these many months on justifying the need (and price tag) for a new platform, I fear we’ve been neglecting the work that brings real value and results that is clearly laid out here in Rich’s article.

At the moment, I’m accepting any sage wisdom and words of encouragement.

(We’re in the non-profit, higher education, faculty/professional development space, and I struggle to clearly communicate ROI.)