Community, Common Room
How do you prove that your community is successful, and a key part of the business that merits continued investment? Here's a checklist for community metrics to monitor and what they mean.
We'll cover success and engagement metrics across four categories:
We’ll begin with a summary of success metrics you can track over time, and then go into further detail for each category. You can also read how organizations like Asana, dbt Labs, Moov, and Temporal measure community success and drive business impact.
The most basic metric is your total number of community members.
This is likely the easiest one to measure. However, be careful not to solely focus on the absolute figure, but in the context of the other key metric areas. While ultimately you want membership to go up and to the right, this should generally be accompanied by a corresponding increase in other metrics.
For example, you don’t want pure membership growth at the expense of positive community engagement. A smaller community that actively engages and responds quickly to each other creates the foundation for a more thriving, healthy place in the long run.
Besides the total figure, understand the different member types represented in your community, such as influencers and contributors, and analyze how they’re changing over time. Through this exercise, you may find opportunities to delight new users.
For example, if you see an increase in the number of members from the same organization, it could mean that more people are finding value in your product so you can raise further awareness with other departments within that organization.
Or maybe you notice someone joining your community as the first person from their organization, plus they have considerable social reach with 1,000+ Twitter followers, and they’re already contributing to conversations. These are signals that you should reach out to them and thank them for joining and contributing and offer to answer any questions they might have and how else you can help them. Finally, if you offer a certification program, identify those who are certified and recognize their achievements by reaching out directly and connecting with them.
The benefits of robust community engagement include scaling product education and support beyond the capacity of internal teams, identifying product issues, feedback, and feature requests in real time, and understanding what topics are top of mind (and if any immediate action is required).
These engagement metrics can be viewed through two lenses—activities and members.
From an activities perspective, monitor the total volume of platform-specific activities—for example, posts and replies in Slack, pull requests and issues created in GitHub, comments, questions, and answers written in Stack Overflow, event registrations and attendance in Meetup—for an at-a-glance view of how and where your members are engaging most with your community.
Layer sentiment analysis and auto-categorization on top of these activities, like feature requests, bugs, and product appreciation, to add actionable intelligence that allows you to prioritize your time and attention. See a trending topic around a broken workflow? Or a bug that's blocking someone? These are great reasons to get in touch with your Product team and get your community members an answer.
Focused on community-led product education and awareness? Measure the frequency and geographic distribution of member-hosted events to see how engaged the community is.
These are some examples of ways to incorporate community feedback into product development at scale to surface insights, use cases, and interesting customer stories.
From a member perspective, two data points to track are the percentage of members who are actively contributing and the percentage of members who are your product champions.
Ideally, the rate at which the percentage of actively contributing members, or those answering questions, sharing content, and engaging with others, grows over time is faster than the rate that total membership increases. This is a signal of greater contributions from the community overall. With product champions, one of the ultimate signs of positive community engagement is advocacy for your product and company.
So if you’re successfully able to identify and nurture product champions through your community program, your engagement strategy is working.
The next metric category is responsiveness, or how often and how quickly community members receive a reply to their posts.
This one is a key measure of satisfaction and quality of experience, because if members aren’t getting responses to their questions and contributions in a timely manner, they may feel their time and effort is better spent elsewhere. To mitigate this as much as possible, you should track, by community platform and in aggregate:
Based on the above data, you can then investigate why, for example, members are more likely to respond to one another on Slack but not on Discourse, and experiment with changes to improve the responsiveness on Discourse. When combined with metrics from above, you can dig even deeper and determine if certain activities get more responses than others, or if certain types of members are more active than others, and adjust your approach based on those learnings.
For the final metric category, business impact, we’re focusing on signals tied to your company’s goals.
Typically this is product usage and/or spend, but it could also be centered around, for example, increasing the reach and effectiveness of product education (which then leads to reduced strain on internal support resources and greater product success for your users).
Mapping product usage (e.g., Amplitude) or spend data (e.g., Salesforce, Snowflake) to community member profiles enables you to track this data over time at the member level. Rather than looking at product usage or spend in isolation, you should view it together with the other metrics described above so you can answer strategic questions such as:
With success metrics focused on a combination of membership, engagement, responsiveness, and business impact, you can see what’s trending and requires action, how your community is feeling and why, and which platforms are most active.