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All of the above is great but how do you correctly attribute to sales? Your 15,000 community members have also been exposed for that TV ad, your Facebook, newsletter, seo efforts etc - how do you justify the connection?

Also likely that your 15,000 members are low transacting customers, lower than your Average, but does that nake them useless? How about the value if them as brand influencers (sry for the buzz word)

Richard Millington

Hi Joakim,

For sure, they might have been exposed to a lot of other materials too - but so was everyone else. That's why you survey people before and after they join the community.

The goal isn't to be precise, that's going to lead you to insanity, but to put together a fairly decent picture of the value the community offers.

Truth be told, you can also use stratified sampling here too.

Why would 15,000 members be low transacting(?) customers?


Great article, Richard. This question of value feels like the next iteration of the social marketing conversation. We've figured out how to gather fans, now how to assign value to our communities?

Right now we have to paint the picture with loose stats (e.g. Twitter referrals as a proxy for success) but ultimately I think upper management will demand more detailed reports.

When it comes to this, companies like Buddy Media, which can literally track a person's path from a particular tweet or Facebook post to website to purchase (and store that consumer's information for 30 days in case that purchase happens later on) is a leader. In a couple years I feel like this kind of tracking and attribution will be standard.

The unspoken consequence there, of course, is that those kinds of analytics require data scientists and therefore even more social spend. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Adi Gaskell

Super article Richard. I think every community should have a purpose for existing. This then provides it with a social ROI that is linked to how often that purpose is met. That in turn underpins the business ROI that flows from the commercial value of that purpose being met.

In answer to Joakim, there probably aren't that many communities that are sales orientated. If you were to take something like Threadless however, they have a clear ROI aligned to sales of t-shirts.

It won't work for every community, but if you don't even try and define your purpose to begin with then you'll never prove the worth of your community.

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