There are hundreds of different user and community metrics you could monitor, and many different ways to do it. For this post, we’re going to look at some specific metrics which can help you understand your community at different stages of its life, and also your members on their journey from ‘new registrant’ to community advocate.
What you measure and what you do with the data depends on your unique situation, but hopefully the following post gives you some useful insight and direction.
Community engagement metrics
The context of your community’s maturity is critical for finding the optimum metrics to monitor. Most communities can fit into one of three stages:
The most common play for launching new communities is getting as many new members and producing as much new content as possible. More is better! Metrics would include things like number of new registrations, number of posts, number of engagements etc.
It is normal for things to slow down as the community grows in size. Your community manager will need to put in a lot of hours stimulating discussions and encouraging participation. A key here is encouraging members to start introducing their own discussions or organizing conferences and competitions. Once your community is a good size, it can start working towards a degree of self-sufficiency.
Key metrics might transition to:
- Number of active and contributing members
- Number of novel discussions started
- Average time to resolve problem
- Ratio of churn to new member registration
Once your community reaches a large, stable size with predictable engagement and retention, the focus shifts towards establishing tangible ROI and value to the business or organization. We’re looking for evidence that members are becoming true brand advocates and that the community is firmly self-sustaining. Metrics might include:
- Number of new product ideas or solutions
- Number of product referrals or revenue from community
These are much harder to track, but most communities this size will need some way of demonstrating its business value, because they are not free to run!
Member journey metrics
The initial goal of any community is to attract new members with awesome content and stimulating discussion. Then we want to retain them long-term, and gradually have them share their expertise and contribute to discussions, even posting their own. Over time, the most valuable members will graduate from valuable support roles to full-on brand advocates who champion your culture and go out of their way to demonstrate your community’s value to others.
You can track this user journey by analyzing metrics at four core stages:
New members are looking for high-value, engaging information and answers to specific questions. They probably have no aspirations for advocacy; your job is to make the community feel so valuable and fun that they keep coming back for more.
- Number of page views
- Unique forums visited
- Number of total sessions
Once a member is consistently turning up and passively participating (either by downloading resources, giving likes/upvotes, reading lots of discussions) you can consider them in the ‘onboarding’ stage. You can identify users in this stage by metrics like:
- Average time per session
- Total time on site
- Number of engagements
- Number of resources downloaded
This is where you want most of your members to end up. Not just reading and absorbing information, but divulging it. Track how well members are helping to resolve problems. If ‘ticket deflection’ is up (i.e. customers are self-serving themselves with answers…thanks to your community!) this is an excellent tie to ROI for the business.
See how supportive your members are with metrics like:
- Number of case deflections
- Average case resolution time
- First response time
- Percentage of problems solved
Advocates are invaluable and, thankfully, fairly easy to spot. Look at things like the number of referrals from specific members (e.g. using unique referral codes), leads from social shares, and members who resolve a disproportionately high number of tickets.
Of course these are only indications of what you can track and analyze—there are hundreds of other metrics and dozens of alternative ways to view your community and users. As a rule of thumb however, the better you understand your members and where they are (through these metrics) the better you can guide the whole community in the right direction.