Welcome to The CITE -- a blog on Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education, created by Mark Nelson and now part of the Publications Department of the National Association of College Stores. CITE is a pun with multiple meanings - referring to cite as in citation, something people reference; site as in location, website, or place people go to; and sight as in foresight or looking ahead to what is coming. Comments, discussion, feedback and ideas are welcome.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Look to Lurkers for Fruitful 'Engagement'

“Engagement” is probably the buzziest buzzword these days. From schools to retailers to employers, all are admonished to engage their students, their customers, and their workers, or suffer abandonment.

Online engagement is often measured by the amount of two-way interaction—likes, posts, retweets, comments, and such. However, Sephora, the beauty-products retail chain, discovered that wasn’t such an effective indicator of true engagement.

According to a Fast Company article, Sephora analyzed user data for its online community site, which was launched in 2010. Visitors to the site, called Beauty Talk, could set up profiles, share tips, and ask questions. Before the analysis, the company assumed the users who actively participated the most often were also their best customers.

The data showed otherwise. Many posts were questions from new visitors seeking advice on specific beauty problems. Once they got an answer, they didn’t necessarily return to the site.

“Instead, it turns out that superfans can be predicted based on their lurking,” noted the article. “The more a user logs into a site day after day, week after week, month after month, the more likely they are to become an active superfan. Posting activity had relatively little to do with it.”

It seems superfans enjoy viewing posts and other content on Sephora’s community, but they don’t feel like chiming in. The upshot is that superfans shell out 10 times the amount spent by the typical Sephora customer.

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