Online Communities Grow While Actively Developing Strategies
Companies are actively growing and monetizing online communities and social media initiatives and simultaneously figuring out the community business plan by trial and error
San Francisco, CA – May 19, 2008 – Forum One Networks, a strategy and research group specializing in online communities, has found in a recent study, Online Community ROI – Reports and Models, that 67% of the respondents said they are actively developing a comprehensive online community strategy or had no strategy. Only 31% of the respondents said they had a comprehensive strategy in place.
“We found it surprising that 59% of respondents felt their community goals were closely aligned with their corporate goals, yet only 31% had a comprehensive community strategy in place,” says Bill Johnston, chief community officer of Forum One Networks. While most of the respondent’s community strategies are still being refined and developed as they build and grow their communities, there are clear trends in measuring the success of the community. The survey respondents noted the three most important success factors as: membership growth, member activity level and traffic. One respondent notes, “We have doubled the size of our community membership in the last 6 months. Two years ago, only 34% of our company’s up-sells and renewals were also members of the community. In 2007, 75% of our up-sells and renewals were community members.”
Companies are finding myriad value in community building efforts, including increased trust, loyalty, engagement and revenue. Not surprisingly, membership growth was listed as one of the top three goals of online community and social media programs along with making financial targets and knowledge sharing. Most companies are allocating large budgets to building or refining their online community and social media initiatives. According to Bill Johnston, “strategies and business plans will likely emerge in a more organic fashion as they learn from their successes, failures and research in the industry. Right now the industry is still trying to determine cause and effect, not only in building community, but also in how it impacts the company’s bottom line. We’re still in a ‘learn by doing’ phase, which will eventually morph into a more applied science once the learning curve is established.” This sentiment is also mirrored by a survey respondent who notes, “online community is key to our organizational strategy and goals. I don’t really have to justify it internally. I just need to justify the speed at which the communities are growing.”
The Online Community ROI – Models and Reports study was published by Forum One Networks’ Online Community Research Network. The study was created to gain insight into specifically how organizations value and report on their online communities’ activities and to identify who the stakeholders are for ROI metrics. For more information about the Online Community Research Network, or to purchase a membership to view the full report, please go to: www.forumonenetworks.com/ocrn
About Forum One Networks
Forum One Networks is a division of Forum One Communications, a web strategy and development group based in Alexandria, Virginia, with offices in the California Bay Area. Forum One Networks produces events, conducts research, and provides networking and strategic consulting for online community and social media professionals.
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