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Guest Post: The Community Health Index for Online Communities

Lithium Alumni (Retired)

NeilB.jpgSomething special today: a quest post from Lithium's own Neil Beam, Director of Enterprise Programs in our Client Services group. Neil's recently been spending all his time immersed in metrics and numbers to help us describe what makes your community tick (and more importantly, how to keep it going strong). Today he's here to share some of the though that went into developing Lithium's newly announced analytics offering:

 

We are releasing today our new Lithium Insights suite, and Scott invited me to talk about it in more detail here on his blog.

We have amazing projects in the wings but today the first thing I want to show you is the Community Health Index.

The Index is the first step towards an industry standard – focused on what community practitioners should measure, report and be held accountable to in their daily practice. It does two things: 1) serve as a absolute measure of communities where you can stand them up side-by-side and say – “okay, now I know how to compare these communities” and 2) provide actionable measures that tell practitioners what to focus on first and what to do next that are specific and relative to the individual community – 6 health factors do this. Three are predictive and three are diagnostic. Note, we picked these 6 factors (Liveliness, Interaction, Responsiveness, Members, Content, Traffic) because they are an universal denominator common to most community platforms, even Twitter could fit this paradigm.

Case in point, when I was the project owner of a community in my past position I quickly discovered that simple metrics (page views, posts, registrations) only gave my management team a partial snapshot and single dimension of a very complex and dynamic system. It never felt good. How did I compare for my executives the other 5 communities on the Lithium platform at this company which were built for different products and completely different audiences and launched at different times? The Community Health Index addresses this.

So what does the Community Health Index look like?

 

CHI Acme sample.jpg


There is a lot going on here (it is the front page to a longer analysis) but this report shows a Community Health Index of 672 on a 0 to 1000 scale is a range of ‘healthiness’. We intentionally didn't scale the Index into the negative because this would immediately imply an unhealthy/healthy dichotomy, which isn't the case. Instead, the healthier a community is, the more likely it will accomplish the goals of the members and the company. Obviously a Community Health Index around 100 or 200 is not accomplishing as much for the members, guests and the company a community with a score of 700, 800 or even 900. You can always improve your health – and what is really important is that the 6 health factors tell you exactly what to focus on first. Here we point out Responsiveness and Interaction as target areas in the Compass. This customer got specific recommendations based on those health factors.

Finally, you'll notice that the methodology and formulation of the 6 health factors and the Community Health Index are fully disclosed in the white paper. We did this so practitioners could land on a common dialogue.

So, how did we do? We welcome the feedback because the point is to continue to improve methods for helping our customers derive value from their communities, and help the industry grow as a whole.

 

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