We’re all of a sudden oh so busy trying to identify, quantify and qualify our online influencers. Amy Lee’s recent post, entitled The Value of Lurkers. In our efforts to measure the noise of the online conversations the lurkers (people who read, but don’t actively contribute content) often get ignored in the measurement – perhaps because they are harder to find and measure.
The Lurkers are important – these probably form the larger proportion of the community and are the one’s probably being influenced. Amy picks out three metrics that will allow measurement of Lurkers:
- The number and turnover of lurkers
- Segment users into groups and start tracking email open rates more carefully
- How long a person remains a quiet part of your community
A thoughtful response by Scott Moore discussed benchmarking of participation metrics and balancing a set of metrics that contribute to the overall health of the community.
But again it all tracks back to the role and objectives of your online community – and this is equally important whether your community is independent or sponsored by a business.
Which takes me onto a post from the Web Social Architecture blog entitled Getting It Right: Designing Community to Support Your Core Offering. This post is a fantastic antidote to the current trend of every site should be a community – “People aren’t on your web-site to make friends and using community to get something done is a huge value, because it promises responsiveness, detail, honesty and affinity”. Don’t just throw up discussion boards, but think about your offering and help your customers increase that value. Ryan Turner‘s post is worth a read.
As we at Overtone are designing our Influencer metrics and engagement tools, we are thinking deeply about why you’d want to identify, qualify and quantify your online influencers. The top three usecases are:
Turning Customer Issues into Product Innovation – online communities are where customers get to make their feelings known to the organization, to other customers or to both – to get their issue resolved. You want to identify those customers who are your expert users, those who will provide the most useful feedback that will help you improve your products. You’ll want to get into a deeper level of engagement with those customers – the Lego Mindstorm case study provides a great example of how Lego recruited “citizen developers”. Sony Online Entertainment actively engage with their Community Influencers to list, publish and incorporate the most desired features of their influencer group.
Customer Self-Support – The recent Business Week article on Intuit discusses how their Online Community has spawned a number of expert customers advising other customers and taking the load off Intuit’s in-house support team. To be able to identify those customers who are performing such activities and then providing them with improved service levels when they need support provides a leveraged model.
Managing Customer Champions – Finding champions for you products who have some influence and engaging with them to ensure that they stay that way. These champions can be found on your own and on third party community sites.
We’ve got a few more, but we’re also mad keen to hear why you want to identify and engage with your online influencers.
Other articles worth checking out too if you’re keen on identifying the Influencers in your community:
How to Measure Online Influencer by Micah Baldwin, March 2009
Online Influencers: How The New Opinion Leaders Drive Buzz On The Web by Alice LaPlante, May 2007
How do you find influencers? by Sam Decker (CMO at Bazaarvoice)
Online Reviews Second Only to Word of Mouth as Purchase Influencer in US, Survey Finds in Business Week, October 2009
A Poor Man’s Guide to Finding Influencers by Mike Nelson, March 2009