Community Platform & Services Satisfaction Research

The Online Community Research Network is currently conducting our next research project to assess the level of satisfaction with online community platforms, and platform and service providers.

The research targets online community executives, strategists, and managers, working both in the commercial and non-profit space.

If you would like to participate in the study, you can find the research survey here:
http://bit.ly/487DWj

All participants that submit a complete (and valid) survey will receive a copy of the final report, to be published at the end of February.

Again, the survey is intended for community managers and strategists only, please. This person is on the “customer” side of the customer / vendor relationship. If this describes you, please proceed. Responses from online community platform and service vendors will be factored out of the final data set, if submitted.

Online Community Research: Community Culture

Online Community Research Network: Our Research Agenda

Cross-posted from the Online Community Report:

Over the last 3 years we’ve conducted research with over a 1000 organizations actively engaged with online communties, including Fortune 500 companies, cutting edge community-based startups and some of the world’s leading non-profit organizations.

We are currently conducting 6 studies annually, and we typically release the research reports (for a limited time).

Currently available (free) research reports include:
Identity, Reputation & Ranking:
The Identity, Reputation & Ranking research project studied current practice with online identity, member reputation (including reputation systems and programs) and content ranking techniques.
Key findings from the study include:
– Members typically don’t fill out non-required profile fields;
– Slightly less than 1/3 of the respondents (32%) have, or plan on making member’s profiles portable in the next 6 months;
– Slightly less than 1/3 of the respondents (32%) have, or plan on implementing a universal ID solution in the next 6 months;
– The majority of respondents have, or are developing a reputation system for their communities.
Download this report (free).

Online Community Revenue and ROI Techniques:
The Online Community Revenue and ROI Techniques research project studied revenue streams of online communities as well as monetary and non-monetary measurements of value.
Key findings from the study include:
– Respondents generally valued non-fiduciary dimensions of value, like loyalty, over direct revenue.
– The most effective revenue generating techniques were advertising and charging for community subscription.
– A member-first attitude is needed when considering the addition of fee-based or revenue-generating services. The best way to find out what your members do or don’t want? Ask them.
Download this report (free).

Marketing & Online Communities:
The Marketing & Online Communities research project was intended to study the intersection of current marketing practices and online community building.
Key takeaways from the study include:
– A list of community marketing tactics that community hosts engage in;
– Feedback on the most effective marketing tactics;
– Host policies that marketers must adhere to;
Download this report (free).

Research Reports Available to OCRN Members:
Online Community: Marketing, Growth and Engagement Report / July 2008 (also available for purchase)
Online Community ROI: Models and Reports / February 2008
Online Community ROI Research Report / April 2007
Online Community Metrics: February, 2007
Online Community Metrics: Best Practices Survey / March 2006
Blogs, Wikis and Workspaces: June 2006

Our Research Calendar for this quarter includes:

Online Community Compensation (team structure, titles and compensation packages from over 250 community professionals): to be published August 2008
Community Vendor Satisfaction (Platform & Services): to be published September 2008

In addition to all the research reports, OCRN members get an active say in steering the research agenda, and also help shape the research instruments.

To find out more about the OCRN, please feel free to ping me.

Online Community Engagement: Recent Research

Cross-posted from the Online Community Report

Marketing & Online Communities Research Report Released

Our Online Community Research Network (http://www.onlinecommunityresearch.com) initiated the The Marketing & Online Community research study in June of 2007. The study explored the current state of marketing to online communities, from the perspective of both the online community host, as well as from the perspective of the marketer.

The research participants included large software companies, large community destination sites, niche community sites, platform providers and interactive marketing and advertising firms.

We discovered early on in the research process that while community hosts and practitioners were willing to share their experiences, most marketers were not. At the beginning of the research I conducted several in-person interviews, it became clear that most marketing and advertising agencies have not met with great success in their community marketing efforts, and are unwilling to talk about their experiences. What limited success marketers have had is generally viewed as proprietary knowledge within the agency, and is closely guarded.

I’ve included excerpts from the report below. To download the full report, please go here (short registration required).


What are the biggest challenges you face working with third-party marketers?

It is clear from the survey responses that most online community hosts are still negotiating the relationship with third-party marketers, their messages, and their methodologies.

The main challenges in working with third-party marketers included:

• Third-party marketers want to control content/context in which their ad will be shown.
• Difficulty matching ads with content
• Overhead associated with helping marketer understand community culture
• The lack of a pre-screened third-party ad network
• Marketers seem to have no affinity with community / company brand
• Advertiser push invasive or unusual advertising to get results
• Difficult to determine fair rate and cost basis

What general advice would you give a colleague that was considering incorporating marketing and advertising into their community?

Respondents shared valuable advice about incorporating marketing and advertising activities into communities, from their direct experiences.

Recommendations included:

• When introducing marketing messages into your community, be very cautious and attentive to your member reactions, and open to their feedback
• Understand your audiences needs and sensitivities to advertising messages
• Establishing a good relationship with the agency account manager is key
• Establish creative and messaging guidelines for marketing to ensure appropriateness
• Make sure ads are appropriate and add value to community
• Be clear about policies and ensure that policies are available to and understood by community
• Involve the audience. Surveying members to determine which brands / types of messages they would
• Ensuring the right mix of content to ads
• Test and refine based on marketing effectiveness and feedback

Again, to download the full report, please go here (short registration required).

Online Community ROI 2007 – Report Released

We publicly released the Online Community ROI report last week. The research project was conducted as part of the Online Community Research Network agenda, and was initially released to OCRN members in May. The study had many interesting findings, including:

• Only 22% of respondents could clearly articulate ROI on community efforts
• The majority of respondents gave a high priority to establishing an ROI model in the near term
• 49% were reporting some dimensions of value back to management on a monthly basis
• “Value” of online community efforts are contextual to an organizations goals and objectives

Download the full report here, free of charge.

This was cross-posted from the Online Community Report