What have you learned from your community lately? A discussion with Dan Neely

I had a very enlightening conversation with Dan Neely of Networked Insights today. They are about 10+ people company (and growing) based in Wisconsin focused on delivering customer insights from your community. They have some very unique software offerings giving you visibility into customer interaction and communication that happens with your online community. I liken it to proactive customer intelligence instead of reactive customer reporting.

Over the last few weeks I have been talking to several publishing company & media marketing executives, and the “spend categories” for 2008 include
a) Customer intelligence – both reactive for marketing and proactive for trend spotting
b) Customer engagement – blogs, wikis, etc. – (you’ll be still surprised how many media companies still dont allow blogging by their reporters / associates and
c) Consolidation & consistency of all online efforts. There are several companies that have grassroots efforts in community / social media, etc.

Here’s the key point that I learned from Dan: Do you want a community for “community sake” – because everyone else is doing it? Or do you want to really engage and learn from customers and are going to use the community as a platform to do so?

I can pretty much tell right-away by the first 2-3 questions a person ask about their community effort (if they already have one) if this has management buy in or NOT.

If I get questions like:
1. How can I have more people commenting on our community?
2. Our pageviews on our community site are very sporadic. How can we make it more linear?

This is a grassroots (not a bad thing BTW) community and the community manager looking for tips to improve interaction.

But if I get the following questions:
1. How do I justify the community resources from a tangible perspective?
2. How do we align and deliver integrated marketing campaigns with out social media and community efforts?

Then I know they are being asked questions from their VP of Marketing / CMO to leverage the community effort as another means to listen and learn from customers.

Now, back to Networked Insights. They target Retail and Financial Services industries and have a set of applications to help you get that knowledge  based  on interactions amongst your community members. 

This is a very valuable tool that you can leverage in putting together good metrics and value KPI’s for how to measure your success with your community.

I will do a more detailed review of this application in the coming weeks and will have a better perspective on how to use it.