Matthew Thomson is a Senior Product Manager at Lithium Technologies and all round cool guy. You can follow him on Twitter at @daddymention and on Lithosphere he is MatthewT. Don't even try to take one of his Foursquare mayorships. Last Friday, Phil gave us a great overview of why it's just so important to know where you stand when you build an online community of any kind. In essence, benchmarking is of the utmost importance in helping our customers determine how their community is doing today vs. other communities. More importantly, we can tell our customers within a month of launching their community what their community is likely to look like six months from now. This helps manage your managment's expectations and show them that a social strategy need not be so risky. (Nothing like having some hard numbers behind your forecast.) In addition, Benchmarks provide the following: A good set of benchmarks let you understand how you stack up against the competition. You may be doing well...but are you doing as well as you should be? You might as well get a feel for how well your community really is doing, once you remove seasonality and macro factors. Quite converse to the first point, your community may not be doing as well as you'd hoped...but does that mean that you're not doing well? It helps when you can tell management that, despite the fact that you're not hitting your stated goals, you're certainly blowing the doors off everyone else in your category. Benchmarking lets you focus on areas of improvement. Maybe it's a mixed bag for your online, social presence. You do well in some aspects but not in others. For example, you drive a ton page views but other sites with less page views do much better with their customers' engagement. Don't you want to know where you can pull yourself up? But enough of the benefits, let me discuss in the remaining time what Lithium has put together to help you realize these three points. In the case of benchmarking communities, we had an interesting problem that we needed to circumvent. As a SaaS company, we have all of our customer data in a single area. We can compare two communities head-to-head. And some customers would absolutely love that. Alas, we are also a very security-conscious company and our privacy restrictions simply don't allow such a thing. So we looked for the next best thing. We're always interested in taking a look at what the more successful consumer companies are doing these days to make difficult concepts easy for customers to divine. And, further, how are sophisticated companies using multiple forms of data to make the most meaningful comparisons? For our benchmarks, we used concepts like "similar homes" used in home-buying sites like trulia.com and recommendation engine approaches most commonly associated with amazon.com. The result is a clustering algorithm (concocted, of course, by our own inimitable Dr. Michael Wu) that assigns a set of similar communities to each Lithium community. The performance of these similar communities becomes the benchmark. Dr. Wu uses the following facets to create the list of similar communities: Age - How old is the community. Size - How big is the community. Type - What is the focus of the community (Support, Marketing, Innovation, or some mix of the three). Audience - Is the community B2B, B2C, internal, external. Industry - What industry does the community's parent company play in? Dr. Wu blends this information up in different ways to come up with two types of benchmarks: Date-Based - What does your community look like today against the average of the similar set of communites. Age-Based - What does your community look like against the average of the similar set of communities when they were the same age in weeks? So, for example, how many registered users did your benchmark set have, on average, when they were 20 weeks old? These benchmarks appear as blue line-graph components throughout are available in the Lithium Engagement Center for the following community metrics: CHI Score Searches Registrations Posts Page Views User Sessions Unique Posters Average Time to Response And, believe it or now, there are benchmarks available for even more metrics in our Custom Reporting module. More data = more better. As always, please let us know what you think and how we can improve our products.
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Matthew Thomson is a Senior Product Manager at Lithium Technologies and all round cool guy. You can follow him on Twitter at @daddymention and on Lithosphere he is MatthewT. Don't even try to take one of his Foursquare mayorships. There's a lot of talk about the value of social software as being immeasurable. But that attitude keeps social software in the realm of social experiment instead of moving it into the pantheon of "mission critical addition to the business." At Lithium, we deal with some pretty savvy customers, and we've learned a lot from them about how they measure the value they're getting from our service. Over the past year, I've spent a lot of time working with customers to use the data that we collect to them demonstrate the value of their Support communities to their management. So we decided to take it that extra step and put those same simplified calculations into our new Engagement Center in the Support Overview tab. Since we're huge fans of Turbo Tax, we loved the idea of providing a simple in-app calculator that Support communities can use to track the value created over time, in real-time. Behold: the Total Value Created and Value of Cases Handled widgets. Both of these use simple calculations to come up with a useful estimate of the savings your community is generating. Let's take a look at how this works. The real action takes place in the Settings tab. This is where we need you to plug in some numbers. The numbers we need from you are: Average Cost of Phone Incident - How much you pay for a phone incident. Average Cost of Email Incident - How much you pay for an email incident. Average Cost of Chat Incident - How much you pay for a - you guessed it - chat incident. Then you need to tell us how these channels break down in terms of their frequency of use as a means of support. Hint: These should total 100%. Phone as % of All Incidents - What % of support incidents are solved on the phone. Email as % of All Incidents - What % of support incidents are solved via email. Chat as % of All Incidents - What % of support incidents are solved via - wait for it - chat. Next, you need to do a little more work and give us an understanding of how your community fares with regard to the quality of the content and the mix of traffic. Solutions as % of All Views - This is the % of people who leave your community feeling like they've had their problems solved. Many of our customers generate this data by polling their users. Robots as % of All Views - This is what % of your traffic you think comes from crawlers and spiders like Google, etc. These robots obviously don't have problems you can solve. Once you input those numbers, sit back and grab a snack. Lithium does the rest, calculating how many views your threads get, checking how many accepted solutions you have, and then determining how many potential cases your community has deflected. To get a quick understanding: Direct Deflections = Accepted Solutions: If someone marked it an Accepted Solution, we reason that it must have solved at least one person's problem. Indirect Deflections = Solutions as % of All Views x Views: We take the percentage you indicate and multiply it by how many views we see that you get on your threads. Our logic is that they landed on a thread for a reason. We don't count views of your community's home page and such. Why? No one can get a support answer there. We’'ve purposely created a very simple calculator so that it can apply to many of our customers and be simple to implement. At the same time, the basic functionality should lead you provide us with the most natural ways to extend it over time. We’'re open to suggestions. We've already garnered a ton of feedback from our extended beta. Here are two, future directions: Choose forums to include. Not all forums have support written all over them. We want you to be able to choose only those that can actually help your customer. Auto-fill for Solution % and Robots %. The latter we can do right now and we'll make that available in the next version. The former is more difficult but totally attainable. We'll be enlisting survey tools in the near future that will allow you to use exit surveys to populate this field. The Support calculator is just the first of its breed. We expect to release both Marketing and Innovation calculators in the coming months, so you can get a more complete picture of the return on your Social CRM investment. Let us know what you think.
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LauraB: Right now the integration is mainly a delighter for fans on your community that allows you to remind people that you also have a vibrant brick and mortar presence. Both of the use cases that you suggest might be next options. Most definitely. I'd love to talk to you directly if you're interested in integrating a widget like this.
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Matthew Thomson is a Senior Product Manager at Lithium Technologies and all round cool guy.
You can follow him on Twitter at @daddymention and on Lithosphere he is MatthewT.
Since I'm just about to dip onto Southwest Air to SXSW in Austin, TX, and because this year is dubbed the year of geolocal social media at SXSW, I'm juiced to announce that Lithium has integrated Foursquare into its award-winning community software.
What does this mean? Well it means that Lithium community customers can finally see real-time comments from in-store customers.
Lithium lets every brand with a brick-and-mortar presence drive the most extreme multi-channel engagement possible by bringing offline activities into the online sphere. And online users from a certain location - oh, let's just say, for example, Emeryville, CA - can now see what's going on at stores in their area.
More importantly, Lithium-hosted online communities can now remind users where there are great brick-and-mortar outlets to serve them and harness the best comments to show off those outlets.
We've embedded the first iteration of our Foursquare app here to the right. This simplified version of the Lithium Foursquare app simply shows the current activity at Lithium HQ: while I'm busy in the Lithosphere I can still see what my colleagues are saying as they roll into the office.
The widget scrolls as new comments come in from the "real world". More fully-featured versions of our Foursquare app show the Mayors of specified locations, rotate through a chosen set of locations, and show the hottest offline locations (number of people checking in) to online customers.
As always, Lithium is a Superuser in all things social.
BTW, if you're at SXSW this weekend, and want to chat about Lithium just hit me up on Twitter @daddymention - looking forward to it.
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