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Community Metrics – Useful Measures for Your Growth and Success

So I have been working with UltraLight Startups on a community for Energy/Clean Tech. One of the very first question I was asked is how do you measure the “success” of a community.  Relying about my own experience and from the research of others (Communityspark, OutSpokenMedia) I came up with this list:

  1. Growth  – Tracking the overall growth of your community (such as the number of people registering) is a useful raw number, though it is not enough on its own to indicate a successful community. It is more important to have 100 active users than 1000 total users.Google Analytics has the ability to set “Goals” for events and certain urls. You should track a Goal indicating the number of successful registrations and monitor it monthly. More information can be had here.  Other ways to measure growth is:
    • Number of Social Media followers/fans/connections/circles/friends
    • Blog/Youtube Subscribers.
    • Unique visitors.
  2. Member Engagement- How many posts is your community generating each day/week/month? The more contributions your community attracts, the more value it is creating – and the more engaged your members are. That being said, this still depends on the quality of the contributions – a post containing a smiley is certainly not as valuable as a 750 word post that encourages spirited discussion. Measure to look at include:
    • # of Active commenters
    • Return Visits
    • Page Views
    • Time on Site
    • Bounce Rate
    • Ratio of posts to comments, types of comments.
    • # of Message posts, if a forum.
    • # of Conversations over a month period
    • Newsletter Open Rates
    • Internal Site Searches
    • Number of private conversations
    • Length of average contribution
  3. Authority -  A successful online community will tend to attract links and mentions from other websites and social sharing buttons. Keep an eye on these to determine how well you’re spreading the word about your community and how much buzz it’s generating. This is also a useful way to determine where people are talking about you so you can get involved there, too. Metrics to value are:
    • Your share of conversation vs. your competitors.
    • Buzz over a 30 day period.
    • Types comments/posts written about you – mentions (linked or unlinked), product reviews, company reviews, attacks, praise, about a certain individual in the organization.
    • Who authored the mention – client, colleague, recognized social media contact, influencer, etc.
    • Where was the mention located – Mashable vs Maine’s Official Hunting Blog vs zomgmontanahunting.blogspot.com.
    • How often does your community share your content?
    • Incoming Links from other sites
  4. Sentiment -  What is the mood of the community about you and what is the sentiment expressed by the outside world about your company and community.   And poorly perceived community is not a healthy one. In terms of Sentiment,  look at:
    • Emergence of Brand Evangelists -onsite and off.
    • Ratio of positive/neutral/negative mentions (i.e. satisfaction).
    • …as compared to top 10 competitors.
    • Members recommending the community, passing it on to friends.
    • Frequency of community members responding to/helping other community members, overall “vibe” of the room based on tracked interactions.
    • Community members defending you on negative blog posts.
    • How often do moderators have to intervene
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