Word trends, do you monitor them?

(ForumSentinel) #1

How many of you actively monitor popular words and topics on your communities? What do you do with that data and is it helpful to have a grasp on those micro aspects? Also, if you use a program to perform this, what do you use?

This is always a feature I’ve felt is missing from ours, especially the larger the site, the more potential problems may go missed and possible new trends to capitalize on may go unseen. For us it’s just up to browsing new posts, running the “street beat” in each section, and searching (if we already know what to look for).

Sorry for all the questions :smiley: but thanks for any input!

(Bo McGuffee) #2

We’ve never done this where I am, so I can’t give any advice or insight.

You say you feel it’s missing from your site. Out of curiosity, can you give us an example of what exactly you might want to accomplish with it? I wonder if there might be another way to tackle the task at hand.

(ForumSentinel) #3

A couple reasons.

One would be for better tracking of potential legal or compliance issues as well as brand discussion. While our forums are hosted on a site that also has a store, the forums are very rarely used for customer support purposes. It would be helpful to find any discussions that do originate in the community concerning products or services provided to make sure those are addressed.

The second is for better tracking of popular topics and trends to better cater to those discussions (for example creating a new sub-forum). We offer broad range of discussion topics and to ensure viability in the future we need to be able to react to changing winds quickly.

Traffic has really slowed down since its peak in 2011 but we’re still plenty busy with about 21,000 new posts a day.

(Bo McGuffee) #4

One thought comes to mind. Regarding catering to trending discussions, could you somehow set up some sort of trending filter for the community to use? This will allow the community to keep in touch with the hottest topics, and it will allow staff to identify what conversations people are chasing.

(ForumSentinel) #5

I would love that. I forgot to mention that there are basically no free engineering resources so it would have to be something that can be done within the constraints of the vBulletin stock software or a program that doesn’t require updating the database…

(Bo McGuffee) #6

Okay, so being able to identify trending discussions would be good. Since trending discussions are basically identified by the community’s behavior, and you can’t automate measuring that, why not ask members of your community to help you do that?

How about the following…

You identify the members who seem to be most in touch with what the community wants to talk about. Then, approach them with the opportunity to help you quietly take the community to the next level. Tell them you want to spotlight the best discussions of the day. For that, you need “spotters” to help by sending in what they think should be the most interesting material. Ask them to send you links via PM to key discussions and state why they think they should be highlighted. Then, you can place them in the “Endorphin Rush” area.

The “Endorphin Rush” area is a sub-forum that appears at the top of the other forums (not unlike a pinned topic in a forum). Maybe it could be a “top 10” list, that changes regularly. When something is promoted, it is simply moved (with a placeholder in the original forum if possible). When it’s spotlight time is done, you simply move it back.

This should accomplish a few key things.

  1. You have community members picking content out to highlight, which encourages continued conversation.
  2. Your leaders in the community are recognized as such by you (ego-boost), which facilitates a stronger sense of belonging (retention)
  3. As members create topics that become highlighted, they are reinforced through recognition, which encourages continued quality topic creation. If it is someone who doesn’t normally create topics, the sense of achievement will help overcome the emotional barrier of fear that might keep them from taking another big step like that in the future. (And, yes, I think it’s much scarier to create a topic than to reply to one.)

So, “Spotters” find topics that lead to powering up the “Endorphin Rush”. (To keep with the theme of your avatar.) I throw those terms out there as easily replaceable by something you think is better. I recommend that whatever you use, you keep with the theme of your community. By doing so, the roles fit more smoothly in the community’s story, and thus become more meaningful.

That’s just one option, and I’m not sure if it will work with your community. You’ll have to decide that. At the very least, I hope it helps stimulate creativity. Maybe others here will have more ideas for you.