Does your Community have a Key Player Risk?

SWOOP: Key Player Index

An important characteristic of networks is that some individuals are more important to the performance of the network than others. In fact, if we were to plot the relative influence of individuals in a network, the degradation from the most influential to the least follows a power law distribution. This means that the level of influence between the most influential members and the least influential reduces exponentially; emphasizing the importance of these few selected influencers in a network. Networks that have just a few key influencers are clearly at risk if one or more of them were to leave the network. So how can we tell how open your community is to a key player risk?

This post continues the series of deeper dives into the specific measures included in the SWOOP Collaboration Framework #swoopframework. We have previously addressed individual behavioural personas and the important social cohesion measure.

How is this Measured?

The key player index is a measure of the degree to which a network is reliant on a ‘selected few’. To compare networks we measure the proportion of members that are responsible for 50% of all connections. The higher the proportion, the higher the key player index is and the lower the key player risk is. The range of scores from our 20+ benchmarking sample is between 4% and 12% for online communities, with a mean score of 6.4.


What we have ascertained from our online networking studies is that online communities are much more susceptible to key player risk than off-line communities/networks. This may potentially be attributed to an existing ‘digital divide’, where by only a proportion of community members choose to be active online. Alternatively, it could simply be the online medium makes it easy to attract a larger, only marginally active, membership. That said, we think that the relative scores are still a good indication of key player risk.

What should this mean to you?

If your community/network has a low key player index, meaning a high key player risk, it is important to start to address this by encouraging more members to act as hubs in the network, by actively connecting others. If you notice that selected individuals are doing all the ‘work’ in keeping the community active and vibrant, start trying to lend a hand. If you are one the ‘selected few’ key players, try and encourage others to join you and become more active in connecting others. Perhaps ask others to host online events or initiatives as a way of broadening the community leadership responsibilities and increasing the visibility of others.

In summary, a strong, sustainable community has built in redundancy, so that it can remain active, vibrant and productive, even if some the key players were to leave or be absent for an extended period. By ensuring that your community has many hubs and/or alternative sources for brokering and connecting the community, the longevity of your community will be more assured.



Subscribe To the SWOOP Newsletter

Join our mailing list, we regulary keep you up to date on the latest industry insights and research into Enteprise collaboration.

Thanks for Subscribing to SWOOP's newsletter