Making Support Social with Consumer-Generated Answers

Steve Alter threw out some impressive numbers from Microsoft Answers help community right from the get-go:

· 114 million pages
· 250,000 visits/day
· 24,000 returning visitors/day
· 77% of all questions are answered within seven days

What got more “Ooos” and “Ahhhs”, however, were these stats:

· 31% of all answers come from Microsoft MVPs
· 35% of all answers come from general users

Steve pointed out that top users are scarce and can’t scale – the key is getting one person to answer one question. There are a large group of people who will be engaged at a lesser level, so DON’T just focus on top influencers—make sure you reach out to the pool in the middle. He supported this assertion with these Five Truths of Community Support:

1. One answer goes a long way
2. Hundreds will make ordinary contributions
3. Hundreds of thousands will make single contributions
4. People will take help wherever and from whomever they can find it
5. A post is forever

Steve states that one “myth” of community support is that the community will do all the work now….maybe they won’t do ALL the work, but it appears they can potentially lighten the load.

Follow Steve at @stevealter

One afterthought: My favorite quote from Steve’s presentation (referring to community support) was this: “If you don’t build it, they will come anyway, and they will be really unhappy that you didn’t build it.”


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