Measurement, A Priority for Online Communities. Lithium Offers Community Intelligence with ‘Insight’

Left: Lithium’s Insight Report provides brands with key community attributes, and automated recommendations.

Measurement is more important than ever
I was briefed by Lithium, one of the vendors in my Community Platform Wave report, of their Insights listening product, which they announced today. In the Wave report, I heavily emphasized the need for measurement, here’s a few key reasons:

  • First of all, “new” media like social is already under scrutiny, measurement was already important.
  • During a recession, with dollars stretched, marketers are under increased pressure to prove their programs.
  • Social media, being largely experimental for many brands, need to measure to quickly ‘course correct’ programs in real time.
  • During times of cutbacks, marketers must know what to cut, and in order to do so, measurement is key.
  • Go beyond web analytics
    Beyond this need, I quickly noticed there are two types of measurements when it came to communities, the first is server analytics, which we already are aware is web analytics, Google, Omniture, WebTrends provide these services. Secondly, the more advanced measurements are ‘community’ analytics that actually track the healthy, influence, and sentiment of a community.

    Lithium’s entry to this space, is a blast at Telligent’s Harvest measurement product, the current best-in-class, and Lithium’s Insight product offers community health metrics (in the form of a 6 attributed ‘rose’ graphic), baseline reports, and premium reports with additional services from account managers for the brand wanting the white glove service. Read Joe Cothrel’s blog post to learn a bit about the history of the project, and about the product itself. The Lithium product, which is based off the research from a scientist Michael Wu, they hired that’s conducting similar research to HP’s Bernard Huberman, has been able to identify the attributes that will help predict if a community will be successful within the first few hours of launch. Another key feature is that the community health metrics will not only indicate which attributes are strong or weak, but will offer practical recommendations to improve the community.

    Next steps for measurement –and what Lithium must improve
    Despite Lithium’s momentous launch for this measurement tool, there’s still more to be desired: 1) Measurement should be based on business objective, not just attributes on a dashboard, to learn more, understand the difference between dashboards and GPS. 2) Although we’ve yet to see great tools to glean opinions, demonstrating qualitative information such as quotes and even sentiment will be the next step. 3) These reports will need to export and be seamless to other measurement systems and dashboards, although they have a partnership with Omniture, there’s still many other marketing tools used for analytics.

    Lithium isn’t alone, there are a variety of listening platforms in this space that are offering social media measurement tools, you should also expect the other community platforms to launch competitive products.

    Key Takeaways

  • Social Media Measurement is important, and now with the recession, critical.
  • Tremendous amount of customer and prospect data is available in these communities, the savvy vendors are hiring bright minds to analyze what works –and what doesn’t.
  • Measurement must evolve beyond web analytics and now focus on community insights, vendors are now hiring scientists to help decipher the community ‘code’.
  • Analytics tools on their own are worthless, without actionable insights, brands will suffer, vendors must provide recommendations.
  • To be successful, Lithium must continue to partner with the ecosystem around them, customer communities span the enterprise, that’s why I held this roundtable
  • Expect other community platform vendors to launch similiar products, most will come before the end of Q3 to meet the needs of the recession.
  • If you’re a customer of Lithium, leave your opinion, or email me if you want to be off the record. I’m your advocate.