As community manager of the Japanese Support Forum on the EMC Community Network, I have observed a number of behavioral trends regarding our users and how our customers consume our content. Below is the Product Lifecycle Model I create based on my three-years of experience as a support forum moderator.
This model demonstrates what is happening in the Japanese support forum right now. We’ve been facing some mysteries over the last several months. For example, questions posted about VNX are rapidly decreasing but page views of VNX content seem to be constant or even increasing. On the other hand, questions about Isilon are rapidly increasing but page views for this product are not.
Measuring Community Health
Questions and page view number are both important metrics for support forums. Typically, the higher numbers we get, the better our forum is performing. However, what’s happening in the Japanese support forum is a bit more complex! We have more questions about Isilon than those about VNX and more page views about VNX than those about Isilon. It makes it difficult to measure the health of our community and answer the simple question “Is this product forum healthy, or not?”
After more investigation, we believe we can answer this question now, and the answer is “Yes, it is healthy.” And the Lifecycle Model shown here helps to explain it. Below, I have plotted both the VNX and Isilon products in the model, to demonstrate the new trends we have observed regarding user consumption of support forum content.
Take a closer look… Can you see the reason why the Isilon > VNX (Question#) and VNX > Isilon (Page View#)? Both are on the right track, aren’t they?
Applying What We’ve Learned
The great insight this model provides is that it encourages us to create strategies based on the stage of a product forum’s lifecycle, since the most important thing for support forum moderators is to facilitate the product lifecycle to unfold as quickly as possible!
Depending on the stage of a particular product forum, we develop content appropriate for that stage and post it to the support forums to benefit our customers. For example:
For early-stage product forums (e.g. ECS, ScaleIO), we create introductory content including a blog article, an Ask The Expert event, and a video with helpful product tips
For middle-stage product forums (e.g. Isilon, XtremIO), we create how-to content and best-practice content
And for later-stage product forums, we provide break/ fix content and allow our community experts to contribute content as well
If you participate in EMC’s Support Communities and our various support forums, we’d love to get your feedback. Have more questions about how we measure community health and manage successful global support forums? Please post your comments below!