- Quantitative reporting of forum visitation patterns is critical. It will help compare its performance against expectations and other engagement strategies.
- The raw numbers from a report are useful in understanding and explaining the level of interest in a project i.e. visitor numbers, the number of comments, the number of registrations, etc.
- Investigate the ratios between key indicators. For example, the ratio of registrations to visitors can give you an instant feel for the level of engagement around an issue.
- Your IT department may try to convince you that Google Analytics (GA) can give you everything you need in the way of quantitative analytics. It can’t.
- GA was designed for people who are interested in making their websites commercial. While some of its features are useful, a lot aren’t and more importantly, it can’t give you the information you need to analyse your consultation outcomes.
- Big numbers don’t necessarily mean success. For example, if you measure success by community satisfaction with your draft policy, then large numbers of comments may point to policy failure.
- Small numbers don’t necessarily mean failure. For example, large numbers of visitors with very few comments can indicate a general level of satisfaction with your proposal.
- If you get lots of visitors but only a few who criticize your proposal, this could indicate that you’re dealing with a noisy yet vocal minority. While this doesn’t mean you should ignore their views, it does mean that they should be taken with a grain of salt into a broader social context.
- If you get lots of visitors, a high rate of conversion to registrations and heaps of comments, chances are you have a very “hot” issue on your hands.
- Tag your comments by “quality”, “learning” as well as “topics” for a richer understanding of the conversation.
See our previous articles on related online engagement tips:
Part of the 100 Ideas To Help Engage Your Community Online guidebook.