Calculating Reach

Originally published Jul 11, 2012 in JiveWorks

I’m building a leaders leaderboard — called the Leaders Board — for our CEO to display how senior leaders in our company, and their teams, rank in terms of activity and engagement in our internal Jive community (the Hub). Although the number of these leaders is relatively large (18), it’s small enough that I am willing to undertake some manual data collection processes so I can make this report meaningful.

I came up with a new metric I’d like to share here, and I’d like others’ thoughts about it, including suggestions for improving it or criticisms of it. I call it Hub Reach, because our community is the Hub, but we can refer to it simply as reach. It is a highly imperfect metric. I am well aware it has many flaws. But it’s the best I can do right now with the limited data I have available to me.

Reach as a Metric

Intent: reflect the reach that an individual has within the community. This is a measure of influence. Reach very roughly approximates the number of people that a person reached within the community.

Components:

  • count of content authored (from Content section of Community Manager Reports, filtered by username)
  • total views for content authored (manually tallied by scrolling the Content tab, filtered for Authored, of each person’s profile)
  • count of content participated (manually tallied by scrolling the Content tab, filtered for Participated, of each person’s profile. This is usually comments on content, but also includes voting in polls — perhaps more is in this?)
  • number of followers (manually recorded by looking on the person’s profile)

Calculation: Reach = Followers * (content authored + content participated in) + views of content authored

Rationale for Calculation

Views of content are the number of people who consumed it directly in the site (this omits people who got email notifications and read it without ever clicking through)

Followers * (content authored + participated in) is only a rough estimate of “reach” in terms of how many people may have been reached. It is inaccurate and problematic because

  • we don’t know how many of the followers get the content in email notifications, nor how many of those only read it in email or how many click through to also view it
  • we don’t know how many of the followers track in communications, and so may get it in email (with same issues cited for email, above)
  • we don’t know how many of the followers get Followed activity in email (same issues as above)
  • we don’t know how many of the followers read the content in their Followed Activity stream without expanding it (which is required to register as a view) — for short items this may not be necessary to view it
  • many Followers may not see the content at all, as it goes past in their activity stream and they don’t notice it — so multiplying Followers times content is likely hugely overstating the number who actually SAW the content
  • we don’t know how many people are following the container where the content was posted. This reach calculation omits those numbers, thus under-representing the actual number of people the content “reached.” And then we have the same issues for those container Followers as listed above for Followers of the author.
  • simply using the count of content participated in gives no information about how many views the comment may have gotten (beyond the commenter’s own followers). An early comment will get fewer views than a late comment on a very active thread, because all the earlier posters will be notified about it.

My Conclusion

As long as we acknowledge this is an imperfect metric and don’t try to represent it as the number of people who actually read what the author posted, then I consider it a decent way to compare the relative reach and therefore influence of individuals in the community.

My Wishlist

If others agreed that this were a worthwhile metric, I’d love to see Jive include it in the Community Manager Reports so I don’t have to do all the manual work to calculate it.

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