Defining the success of a community can be really challenging because different people come to communities for so many different reasons: support, connection, innovation, feedback, validation, learning, helping, and so much more. But it doesn’t have to be complicated for a community manager to know if they are helping: just ask.
Success Rate is one of the most important metrics that almost nobody talks about in Communities. At Khoros, we believe that it is so important that every Khoros community has the ability to customize and deploy Community Experience Surveys to determine their success rate as frequently as possible. We also have benchmarks from hundreds of other communities to help you know if you are on the right track.
One of the best parts about Success Rate is that it can be really easy to improve quickly. Here are a few of the best practices we have seen over the last few years.
The easiest way to help people is to make sure that the content they are looking for exists. Monitor and analyze the most popular discussions to understand what people are looking for - and importantly what they are finding - and turn it into knowledgebase articles to improve findability, and relevancy.
Search analytics also provide great insight into what people are looking for, but possibly one of the most underutilized approaches is to simply ask the community what they need. Such qualitative feedback can inform brainstorming with your team, your super users, or other SMEs at your company to get the content created.
This can be as easy as changing results using a Promoted Search tool, featuring content on threads or community landing pages, or making sure solutions to discussions are being marked as Accepted.
There are also more subtle tools, such as how and where you place the featured content, the top right of the page is often the most impactful, as one of our customers who’s big on design discovered recently after we performed a deep dive, but be sure to understand what works for your audience, and measure and monitor the impact of any changes.
Retiring Old Content
Sometimes old content gets a lot of backlinks and begins to accumulate search ranking - resulting in significant SEO. The problem these days is that like seafood, people expect a certain level of freshness in content. The best way to handle this is with the archival of old content and replacing it with updated, fresh material on the same topic. This way you don’t lose the great traffic, and you don’t deliver disappointing experiences to the searcher.
Optimizing Search & Architecture
Search is the number one activity in every community. And probably on every site everywhere. You probably can’t spend too much time improving your search.
One important, yet misunderstood, fact about search is that it uses architecture (headers, page titles, meta-text, etc.) to help clearly define results. In Khoros Communities, Search Places is a recent feature that highlights areas of the community - like threads, boards, or groups - that closely match keywords in your search. If you are searching your mobile provider’s site for “iPhone 10 issue” for example, a Place search result will not only show specific threads for your issue but also an entire category of posts about the iPhone 10 where you can find the most popular discussions related to that device.
Beyond places, promoted search, and archival, one of the best ways to impact search is with Synonym Search . One of the most frustrating things for a new visitor to a site is trying to use the right terms to describe a problem. Especially in high tech products and software, it can be easy to miss some jargon or acronym that would help you immediately find your problem. This is why it is important to understand the connection between new visitors and expert content through the use of synonyms. For instance, an electrical “fault” is somewhat different to a normal fault, and a novice might struggle to name why their power turned off suddenly. So a savvy community manager could use synonyms to make sure that any search for an “outage” would also pull results for expert posts about “faults.”
How have you improved Success Rate?
We’ve seen customers talk about using SEO/SEM tools to identify broader keyword trends. The same post suggested looking at Accepted Solutions Views to Overall Topics view to understand and add content to topics to help them reach the Accepted Status.
Other key strategies involve personalizing featured content, making recommendations for content in emails after people fill out surveys or sign up for groups.
Are you monitoring your success rate? Do you have any projects underway targeted at improving this key metric?
Get a Tune-Up
If you are interested in an expert consultation or professional services to improve your success rate, reach out to your Success Manager or Account Manager today!
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When you think about reward and recognition, your thoughts instantly move to gamification. Yet, gamification is just one small part of reward and recognition.
In fact, effective reward and recognition starts before the community visitor has even decided to register to your community.
How is that possible, you ask?
A visitor's first reward on the community is achieving their goal. That goal is finding what they’re looking for, whether it's content that helps solve their problem, inform their buying decision, and more. They find it quickly, easily, and at a time that suits them.
Whatever method they take to reach the community, they’ve decided to visit. Once that user’s decision is rewarded with the achievement of their goal, they are motivated to use the community again in the future when they’re in need.
That's it, right there, the first hook.
So what can you do to make sure that first visit is successful?
Well, first and foremost, you need to understand how successful it is today. Using value analytics, you can determine your community’s success rate , ensuring you can set realistic goals and measurable outcomes.
Once you know how well your community performs today, you can think about how you improve it. Your goal is a smooth, intuitive user experience, one that enables visitors to find what they’re looking for with ease. Sounds simple! But there’s often a tendency with user journey/ experience to think design, and while design is an important part of the user experience, it's not flying solo.
Design and architecture (the configured organization of content) are committed partners in creating an effective user experience. The experience can look great, but if you fail to support it with the right underlying architecture - and the visitor cannot achieve their goal to find content - it doesn't matter how great it looks, they’ll leave. In other words, form should always follow function.
So what should you be looking for?
Topical navigation - does your configured structure support the user journey, reinforce signs of life and vibrancy in the community? As a best practice, you should review your community structure annually or whenever you’re making significant changes to your community experience. It's not uncommon to find communities that haven’t reviewed their topical stricture in many years. Yet, over time, it's expanded to accommodate the brand’s changing needs, taking it further away from the user’s needs.
A good starting point is a quantitative ‘gut check ’ of your community structure. You’re aiming for a minimum of 5 - 10 posts per board, per day (avg.). It's this rate of participation that we find reinforce signs of life, which encourages participation and growth. Less than 5 - 10, and you risk the perception of inactivity, which can deter visitors from participating.
While a qualitative review is needed, this initial gut check can signpost you to how big or small of a problem you potentially have and clear the fog between your perception and the reality of how well the structure is working.
Design for the user!
One of the most common mistakes we see with topical navigation is the tendency to over-engineer, creating dedicated spaces for every possible scenario or topical theme a visitor may wish to find or discuss. This approach is often driven by the belief that creating multiple niche topical areas can make it easier for the user to see what they’re looking for. In a help/knowledge base environment, that makes sense; however, the opposite is true for a community. The more areas there are for me to pick from, the more you risk diluting signs of life, the more steps you add to my journey, and the harder it is for me to reach my goal… to find what I’m looking for.
Consider how the topical navigation leads them intuitively to their desired destination and do so with a careful eye on the balance between the size of structure and volume of discussion.
While getting the architecture right is important, there are other ways to support the findability of content.
Utilizing taxonomy features such as labels can provide a more granular identification of content without risking effective navigation.
Consider the right interaction style for the user goal. What method of interaction supports them finding and engaging?
Content syndication enables you to introduce content to their journey in a relevant and meaningful way.
Signposting from the lower content levels of pages to other relevant content and information, remember this is where most of your visitors will spend much of their time
Don’t let beginners luck be just an accident
Gamification just doesn’t have the same effect without an end goal for the user. The community should be designed so it leads its visitors to their first achievement, and ultimately on a path to success.
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Let’s be honest; as community experts, the term superuser will be as familiar to your ears as the roar of a car engine is to a racing driver. In fact, consider the last time you had a conversation about community without talking about superusers?
The problem is that people assume that there is a hidden word in the middle there - “super- valuable -user.” And it is not always a good assumption. .
We talk about them a LOT.
Discussions and debates about the topic of superusers can be found far and wide throughout the business of online communities. It’s often in the context of ‘ superuser programs, ’ but what does the term ‘superuser’ even mean?
In the context of online communities, a superuser is someone whose participation is statistically significant when compared to your community's average member .
This understanding is not new, but we see brand communities struggle with the superusers concept every day. The problems are varied but often start early on (long before the impact is evident), when brands are looking at the value their members bring to the community.
So what's the issue?
By nature of their statistical significance, this group of users combined will typically contribute more valuable content than your occasional participating community users. While this statement is true, unfortunately, it is also where the problems start, as we often see an inadvertent correlation created between the volume of participation and the value. They’re not one of the same, and this is an important distinction to remember.
Quantity ≠ Quality
Members who bring value to the community through their contributions are typically superusers, but being a superuser doesn't always mean those contributions are valuable.
Statistical significance can help you identify those who are most likely to bring value to community users and the brand, but this alone does not ensure it. Qualitative assessment is equally, if not more important.
You’ll often see this problem reflected in the frequency with which a formal recognition program is referred to as the community ‘ superuser program .’ A formal recognition program is designed to recognize those who bring value to their peers and the brand through community participation. As previously noted, statistical significance does not equal value, so why are they so frequently called the ‘ superuser program’ ?
This blurring of the lines between quantity and quality of contribution forms the foundation for so many of the issues we often see brands struggle to recognize.
Stay ahead of the challenges.
This problem can manifest itself in many ways, it's often not immediately evident, and by the time it is, it can be challenging to reset, so it's good to know what to look out for and get ahead of it.
When working with brands to redesign their formal recognition programs, we often face a few common challenges time and again:
Brands are historically relying only on the volume of contribution.
A lack of qualitative assessment fails to capture a member’s attitude toward their peers, the community team, and the brand.
And once invited to a formal recognition program and receiving their badge of honor, these members can feel empowered.
At best, their attitude doesn’t improve. At worst, it escalates. This formal recognition creates the perception of their behavior’s approval, setting the tone for what's acceptable. In turn, this has a direct impact on new and existing members’ continued participation.
Maintaining a clear distinction between superuser vs. valuable member within your community strategy and initiatives helps ensure the lines between quantity and quality are not blurred, programs are built with the right members in mind, and your set for success.
Remember, while valuable members are typically superusers, being a superuser doesn't guarantee value. In the end, superusers are just statistically significant. It is up to the brand to assess for value.
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@Toby you're quite right, the system cannot qualitatively assess community replies. The reminder is based on a received response to the topic, and by default worded to ask the question if the response solved the problem, and when it did invite the member to mark it as solved. Its a great option many communities use, but not every feature fits every community 👍
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