When MyFC started recruiting members before taking over Ebbsfleet United, one of the rules was that the first year of membership would commence when the club was formally taken over. Which means that on February 19th 2009, over 20,000 memberships will expire. Some have renewed their subscriptions already, but there is great uncertainty as to how many will actually commit on or before the deadline. This is a problem because the clubs budget depends on the funds that these renewals will bring in – the CEO hinted as much on a recent BBC TV Inside Out report.
So whilst there are various issues that the Society is dealing with (not least how to deal with dissenting views, and others that I’ve commented on previously) the Operator has a new campaign to get people to commit. They have asked all members to signal their renewal intentions, and whether they will be purchasing gift memberships for christmas, perhaps donating a little more to the club kind sir?
I’m not sure at how this information can be considered representative, as it doesn’t seem to take into account the thousands who really don’t care any more. I said on the forums after the first couple of days: “by the end of next week the figures you have will be pretty much all your going to get”, and sure enough, for the last few days, there has been little increase in the number of respondents, which is now at about the same level as recent Society vote turnouts. I.e. everyone who was ever going to respond has done so, so their response should in no way be extrapolated to the rest of the 28,000 people who haven’t replied.
This report from Forrester Research could be far more useful, not just at estimating likely renewals but as a guide to work out how better to engage the different “kinds” of community participants.
It suggests that users of social websites like MyFC can be categorised by the extent to which they participate online and can be described by the following activity profiles:
- Creators – write articles, create social content, upload images etc
- Critics – respond to articles and forum posts, add to Wikis etc
- Collectors – organise content for themselves and others
- Joiners – join social networks and maintain their online identity / profile
- Spectators – read articles, watch videos etc but otherwise do not contribute.
- Inactives – neither create nor consume social content.
Clearly these categories are not all discrete as some participants may be both creators and critics, for example.
They also report significant differences in patterns of activity between different age groups, gender groups and nationalities. This is demonstrated with the profiling tool.
A quick glance to me suggests that things may not be as bad as some of the more skeptical members make out, and reinforces my belief that the “Target” survey does not truly reflect likely member participation. This data seems to suggest that a website where 40-65% of the membership are either inactive or only spectators is not unusual.
My hope is that the Society Board and the Operator will at least consider this research along with their own demographic data, and use it to make better estimates about the renewals strategy and website development.