Measuring the social return first requires identifying a proxy figure. This might be the number of people reached with a message, the number of mentions about the topic online (and the % of those that mention the organization’s work), the change in views on a topic as measured via a survey, the perceived level of knowledge of members, or quantified surveys where members can estimate their life satisfaction and their ability to handle their conditions.
From these, we can calculate a score and put a cost to the numbers which achieved this score. Once we have this score, we can compare this score before and after the community (or non-members vs. members) and estimate the impact of the community. From here, we can determine the cost per improvement in this figure.
However, this assumes a cost saving rather than increased performance. It is equally possible using the CSAT scores approach to calculate the additional performance metrics of social return. For now, however, we will use the same method we use to determine customer spending.
To measure the social return this way, we need the following metrics:
- Average satisfaction/happiness scores of newcomers to the community.
- Average satisfaction/happiness scores of the same group 12 months later.
- Average members within this cohort.
- Average member retention rate.
- Cost of the community (technology, staff, processes, overheads).
- Number of people reached by offline efforts.
- Duration of this reach.
- Investment per category of satisfaction point (content, events, staff costs, PR, direct response, etc.).
Community ROI Template
You can drop these figures into this spreadsheet or follow the method below.