By Ted McEnroe, The Community Roundtable
As we continue to slice and dice the data from more than 200 communities for the State of Community Management 2015, we know that one of the most viewed pieces of the report will be the engagement profiles – the percentage of members who are lurking, contributing, creating and collaborating in the community. It’s a natural thing, especially for new communities, to want to look at engagement and growth metrics early as a way to show to people the success of the community.
When you focus on engagement and growth, though, it defines your tactics in ways that may not benefit the long-term health of the community. In the recently published Community Manager Handbook: 20 Lessons from Community Superheroes, we highlighted some alternatives to basic engagement and growth metrics we are drawn toward – the kinds of metrics that might get more effectively at how your community will perform long term.
Think about these kinds of metrics:
Engagement depth – Can you demonstrate that members asking good questions and having real discussions? Many “engagement tactics” lead to one-and-done kinds of engagement, which boost your numbers now, but will come back to haunt you later.
Member satisfaction – Satisfied members are much more likely to come back than those who come, engage, and depart unsatisfied. Surprisingly, new communities often don’t prioritize finding out if members are satisfied. You shouldn’t reshape your strategy for every complaint and question, but knowing how people are feeling about the community is crucial in moving forward.
Membership referrals and renewals – If your members are renewing and referring new members – they must like what you do. If your members are becoming advocates – you’re doing something right! Getting member referrals and renewals tells you that your members don’t just have to be there, they want to be there.
Signs of changing behavior – By the time you begin, you should have a sense of the behaviors you expect from members. Are they moving toward your behavioral goals? If not, it’s easier to change behaviors in a small community than a large one, so now is the time.
These metrics are sometimes more difficult to measure, but using your community goals to drive the metrics you use, rather than just “doing the basics” can help ensure you’re looking at what defines a valuable community, as opposed to a popular website.