How big and valuable is a community?


What and how to measure for a fairly comparison and valuation?

One of my personal interests and tasks at Peperoni is to track the development of our industry sector (Mobile UGC / Mobile Social Networks). Furthermore people (mostly investment bankers :o) ask me often how big and valuable our community is – but honestly, it’s not easy to answer this question satisfiable.

In our and other communities you have “creators” and “viewers”. We also have some “new visitors”, “repeat visitors”, “heavy users”, “sleepers” and of course some “bouncers”. (There is a small survey about the typical Web 2.0 users from Forrester Research on ECIN – for German speakers.) In between that we also have our “unique visitors” and “registered members”, which I think could be the most informative key figures in this category.

Beside the already existing challenges on the net, it also seems not to be so easy to count the “unique visitors” on the mobile internet. So how to manage a proper measurement based on IP addresses, if e.g. the mobile network operator (MNO) use dynamic IP technology and their customers share the same IP addresses? Some MNO give you the information about MSISDN or a customer-ID, but in the off-deck world only very few of them are such generous. Furthermore you can use cookies, but many of the cell phones and MNO don’t support this technology. The bottom line is that you have to have some king of extrapolation on your figures, but like my old professor on statistics Prof. Dr. Walter Krämer used to say: don’t believe statistics that you didn’t make/fake :o)

You can also count the “registered members” which seems to be obvious, but in some cases it doesn’t span the whole community. For example you don’t have to register to join peperonity.com. Many of our “members” appreciate the anonymity, by still have the access to a broad range of functions in the community. Here some figures that I found (or not found) on the net today:

  • tagtag.com has 269,960 sites
    you can count the sites in the tagtag.com catalog
    but there is no figure about the number of members and you can’t deduce it, because a member can have more than one site in a member account.
     
  • itsmy.com has 2,104,214 sites
    you can see the figures on the itsmy.com homepage
    I suppose they have the same number of members, because you can only have one “nickpage” in a member account.
     
  • mocospace.com has 104,914 members
    you can count the profiles in the mocospace directory
    I assume that they have the same number of sites, because you can only have one “profile” in a member account.
     
  • peperonity.com has 394,586 members
    you can see the figures on the peperonity.com homepage
    and they have definitely more sites, because you can have more than one site in a member account.
     
  • mobango.com has 1,500,164 members
    you can see the figures on the mobango.com homepage
    and I assume that they have the same number of sites, because you can only have one “profile” in a member account.
     
  • mygamma.com has 44,213 sites
    you can count the sites in the mygamma.com catalog
    but on the other side they have “only” 20,044 members on the Gamma Life Ladder.
     
  • pitch.tv has ??? sites/members
    I couldn’t find a way to count anything here :o(

The conclusion is that nobody knows if these figures are true, if they reflect the total of uniqe members, if they include nominal members/sites and if they can verify the “quality” of an community. So for me such manifestation is just a simple marketing instrument – we also use it :o) – and not really a significant benchmark. Another interesting question would be, how big the overlap on members all communities have together. I know some “heavy users” having several accounts in different mobile communities. I myself have three accounts on peperonity.com and one on each of the above communities. Some days ago we had a chat with Fred from AirG.com about our industry sector and it’s quite difficult to measure the size and growth of our market in terms of end user. Maybe some of my visitors have a hint for me on some studies on this …

Another way would be to count “page impressions” which seems to be easier. But even here a clear definition of a page impressions is needed, because sometime you risk to get total figures included page impression on error pages and other technical notes :o) And those figures only a provider can tell you. There are some statistic tools on the net like alexa.com, but in my point of view you should take these tools with a pinch of salt, even if you receive a first impression on the differences between services. For example you can compare peperonity.com with other services, but according to my current knowledge alexa.com only count the PC web traffic of people with an alexa-plugin. And for instance alexa.com says that most of our users come from Indonesia – I can’t confirm that. So it’s an interesting tool, but not the whole story.

And I love such figures like “ad views so far” [greetings to admob.com] or “total downloads so far” [greetings to itsmy.com]. I must ask my team mates how many millions of billions of trillions of page views we have served so far, but I promise not to get megalomaniac :o)

Leave a Reply