Matthew Thomson is a Senior Product Manager at Lithium Technologies and all round cool guy.
Last Friday, Phil gave us a great overview of why it's just so important to know where you stand when you build an online community of any kind. In essence, benchmarking is of the utmost importance in helping our customers determine how their community is doing today vs. other communities. More importantly, we can tell our customers within a month of launching their community what their community is likely to look like six months from now. This helps manage your managment's expectations and show them that a social strategy need not be so risky. (Nothing like having some hard numbers behind your forecast.) In addition, Benchmarks provide the following:
But enough of the benefits, let me discuss in the remaining time what Lithium has put together to help you realize these three points. In the case of benchmarking communities, we had an interesting problem that we needed to circumvent. As a SaaS company, we have all of our customer data in a single area. We can compare two communities head-to-head. And some customers would absolutely love that. Alas, we are also a very security-conscious company and our privacy restrictions simply don't allow such a thing. So we looked for the next best thing.
We're always interested in taking a look at what the more successful consumer companies are doing these days to make difficult concepts easy for customers to divine. And, further, how are sophisticated companies using multiple forms of data to make the most meaningful comparisons? For our benchmarks, we used concepts like "similar homes" used in home-buying sites like trulia.com and recommendation engine approaches most commonly associated with amazon.com.
The result is a clustering algorithm (concocted, of course, by our own inimitable Dr. Michael Wu) that assigns a set of similar communities to each Lithium community. The performance of these similar communities becomes the benchmark. Dr. Wu uses the following facets to create the list of similar communities:
Dr. Wu blends this information up in different ways to come up with two types of benchmarks:
These benchmarks appear as blue line-graph components throughout are available in the Lithium Engagement Center for the following community metrics:
And, believe it or now, there are benchmarks available for even more metrics in our Custom Reporting module. More data = more better. As always, please let us know what you think and how we can improve our products.
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