Calculating ROI is usually one sided

So, when I come across ROI and metrics data often what people try to calculate or show off is a one-sided story — that of how the business benefits from the community.

One such example:


But if community is ‘all about the people’, why aren’t businesses truly interested in the ROI of the people.

  • How does community help people grow?
  • What do the outcomes of members look like, in comparison to non-members?
  • How are members recognised and awarded?
  • What impact do the members of the community have on the industry as a whole?
  • Is the pie being shared with everyone? Or is the business selfishly using it ‘as their competitive advantage’ without giving back.

Most of this is a mindset, yet it’s often frustratingly dismissed by businesses.

Feel free to discuss :sweat_smile:


This is a good question about the nature of capitalism and how business incentives align to that :grimacing:

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One of our primary if not primary measurements is “Are our members generating more revenue” which we bump up against non members. In our case it’s the entire point freelancers use our platform, so if we aren’t helping you generate more money, what’s the point (I guess one could argue Community is the point, but lets ignore that):man_shrugging:

With that in mind, everything else kind of just falls into place from there. Are members in our Academy doing better? After attending an event what does 45 days later look like. If you are in 5 groups, does that help or hurt you? If you create a topic, are you truly generating more money down the road? If not, why would I focus on trying to get users to generate more topics/answer more support tickets.

Something I brought up to my team to dig into last week is if Community members are falling into various situations less often (scams, chargebacks, various negative things). My assumption is that those in Community cohort would have far more positive outcomes than the overall. This has a tremendous impact on their earnings, and if were having a positive impact, we’ll look at how we further expand that (and also having to dig into specifically what/why/how).


I love this example and appreciate you sharing it. :heart:

I guess to your advantage (I assume) you have access to the amount of money the freelancers are making, at least from within your platform?

Yeah, we ultimately had to tie the two distinct sources of data together in an analytics tool, but, who is to say you can’t ask for this information if you don’t have it directly from your users, whatever that measure of success may be.

I feel like the forums of old used to let you add in additional profile attributes you want to ask users about with the click of a button (Not always pretty but you could have the field there). Now’a’days, that’s a $10k professional services engagement for many.

The forums of old made you DIY.

Those DIY options still exist with modern platforms, but there’s a bit more Wizard of Oz going on.

You can either hire a great and powerful developer at significant cost, or they can do it for you as part of an ongoing service retainer.

(Or you can read the docs and figure it out.)

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This is why I’ve explicitly asked my team to set one to two business goals and one to two member goals for each initiative. They need to live at equal importance levels to ensure they’re delivered on, and they need to be measurable otherwise they’re just nice sentiments.