Whilst all the seasoned community managers know how to measure the effectiveness of their enterprise social network (ESN), many newbies continue to struggle with the basics of measuring how their ESN delivers value to community members and their organisation at large.
The majority of ESN vendors, including Jive Software, Socialcast, SocialText, MangoApps, tibbr, IBM Connections now all include baseline analytics as well as the option of delving deeper via business intelligence tools like QlikView and Tableau. All of this is excellent if you need to present deep dive figures to your board or senior leadership team. On the downside though is that it takes a fair bit of time and effort to produce the reports, usually involving other support personnel (typically from IT if you are extracting raw data and then turning it into a presentable format).
If you’re new to community management or just new to enterprise social networking full stop, you may want to work your way into gaining insight into how the community is performing. A base function of pretty much all ESN’s is the ability to conduct Polls. Polls are a quick way of gauging the value community members are getting from the ESN. You can whip up a simple Poll in minutes and then make it available to either a select group of members or the entire community. You can be as creative as you like and you will get feedback quickly.
The tendency for most of us is to just let things go and not elicit the feelings of people, however social networks provide an enormous opportunity to change this and a big part of this leading from the front, so go ahead and ask your community what it thinks of the value proposition that they get out of the ESN.
Based on this feedback you may need to make adjustments to the strategy. Most of all be as transparent about the process as you can be. Being social is about changing the way work gets done and leveraging the strength of an entire community. The more the community values the effort being put in to ensure the community remains relevant, the more important the community becomes as a way of supporting business processes.
Here is one story that indicates how the use of Polls (as well as other initiatives) has helped HP to continue to get real value from its ESN.