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The Health and Wealth of your Online Community - Part 2

Khoros Oracle

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The concept of ‘wealth’ from one person to another tends to change very little. 

Most people equate wealth exclusively as the accumulation of money and/or assets.  But there are some of us who think that the deeply personal things in our lives (family, friends, etc) are also part of our ‘wealth’.  In my opinion, things that we are grateful for should be classified as wealth. 

That broad way of defining ‘wealth’ (i.e. - 'things we are grateful for') conveniently emerges as my own way of talking about 'wealth' as it pertains to Online Community.  In our world of measuring Online Community, it is imperative to measure both the quantitative and the qualitative.  Community wealth is not just about saving money or making money, Community wealth is also about those things that we cannot conveniently monetize, but that we are nonetheless grateful to have received.

Speaking of something we cannot conveniently monetize, lets talk about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). 

Now here is something that definitely has money associated with it. Just ask any employee of Google, or better yet, just ask anybody in Marketing that has ever had anything to do with a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) budget. 

The challenge that our Business Value Consulting (BVC) team runs up against here at Khoros is when we’re asked whether or not a Community’s SEO value should be classified as a ‘savings’ or a ‘yield’. It may sound cowardly, but I always let the brand decide.  If they want to cut their SEM budget a bit because they are getting lots of search engine referrer traffic hitting their Community, and then that traffic subsequently spreads out to the rest of the brand’s digital properties, well, that is their choice.

But I also will tell brands that it might serve them best to not even think of those valuable SEO hits to their Community as a monetary savings or a yield, but instead to (temporarily, at least) value those SEO hits as a ‘soft benefit’ until the business can figure out how they want to calculate the value. 

‘Soft Benefit’?  What the heck is that?  A ‘soft benefit’, my friends, falls into that concept of wealth that I mentioned earlier.  It is something personal that we hold dear that can not easily translate into a dollar figure, but we are certainly grateful to have it.  Probably the most boorish (but adept) way of articulating a soft benefit is to use the words of Gary Vaynerchuk; “What is the ROI of your Mother?”

Here are the most common Online Community ‘Soft Benefits’ that I like to explore with brands:

  • Increased Customer Satisfaction
  • Amplified Positive Sentiment
  • Real-estate to place advertisements / offers for additional products and services
  • Helps to establish trust and fellowship among customers
  • Increased Customer Insights

Each of these items above might be measured in dollars, but it could be a stretch to get there and in some cases the credibility of the figure would be dubious.  The wealth that you yield from your Community should be measured first in dollars.  On that point I do not compromise.  But it is foolish to think that wealth begins and ends with just money.  We do not measure wealth that way in our personal lives, so why pretend that we cannot do it in our professional lives? 

Benjamin Franklin was the son of a candle-maker that had 17 children. 

He grew up extremely poor and started working when he was 12 years old. I started this series of two articles with his maxim, “Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”, because it makes perfect sense to look at both the health and wealth of an Online Community. 

However, I learned more about Franklin on the way and also gained greater exposure to a long list of his proverbs, two of which have stuck with me because I like to keep an open mind whilst simultaneously staying laser-focused on my goals. 

The first, “Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones”, is something that we can apply to our personal lives as we strive to do better.  

The second, “They that will not be counseled cannot be helped”, is something you and I can apply to ourselves when reading the works of wise people throughout history.  It is also a perfectly appropriate observation to consider when reading my blog articles as well.  


Read Part 1