The Community Club

Ben Halpern
Ben Halpern

Posted on

How do you measure community success and health?

What do you report to your boss? Are there any measurements you feel bring authenticity of success and health if you are building community either within a company or independently?

Discussion (7)

mac profile image

The white whale! This one is always the fascinating question to me, especially given what we're building at Commsor.

I think it varies a lot on stage of company and stage of community, but regardless I've always said that "number of members" is the cardinal sin of community metrics.

For an early community its more about things that are harder to measure - value that members are getting, member happiness, etc. Size and growth matters less than building a proper foundation, though it can be hard to convince your boss of this.

For later stage communities where you know your foundation is solid, you can start to worry about broader metrics, % active in a given period, % creating vs consuming content, etc.

It also depends a lot on the purpose of the community - for a larger enterprise support forum for example, % questions answered, average time to answer, etc is going to be more important.

ben profile image
Ben Halpern Author

member happiness

Size and growth matters less than building a proper foundation, though it can be hard to convince your boss of this.

I wonder if member happiness is measured consistently and not just a gut feeling, it might be an easier sale. Maybe make the argument: "I'm going to measure periodic member happiness and seek to improve that, and that will give us the foundation to move to more growth-oriented metrics".

.... That might be a good story to tell. It will at least make you seem like you have a plan, which could buy you time to do it the right way.

mac profile image

I feel like we need some version of NPS score. MHS - Member Happiness Score, or MSS - Member Satisfaction Score.

shinyee_au profile image
Cindy Au

It's OKR season, so I'm definitely thinking about this topic a lot! Though let's be honest, I'm never not thinking about this :) A coworker recently shared this article with me: I'm curious if anyone has used "Natural Rate of Growth" (or a variation on this formula) as a way to measure community impact?

jillrossco profile image
Jill Ross

I like the Value Added / Value Gained framework developed by Ted Hopton for community success and health. This example is for an internal/employee community, but I think it could apply to external/customer communities as well:

This approach gives you a better sense of the quality of your community activity based on the quantity of specific behaviors. There are tons of false negatives and positives when it comes to community metrics, so making the distinction between what adds vs. extracts value is important.

bryanwi11iams profile image

The big question! We focus on obtaining data where ever possible. Validating and not just attributing community as ''a nice to have'' being the goal.. Few areas we focus on

  • Event/engagement growth over time: try and break down by new members, existing members, and better still if you cant track those not members, and why
  • revenue (where applicable) Quick surveys for instant NPS
  • would you recommend to colleagues or network?
  • would you attend more events ahead?
mdimino profile image
Marissa Dimino

Agreed with Bryan's approach! I've admittedly struggled with this recently (being granted enough time from leadership to prove value), but in a prior community I had the luxury of having a few years to build programs data and feed into the CRM. We were able to eventually prove that 85% of customers were more likely to remain a customer if they participated in community programs. We also ran biannual satisfication surveys and had periodic "happiness" pulse checks. And then of course the event conversation data, activity level, etc.