Originally published on January 13, 2016

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What goals and measurements should be defined for communities, community members, community managers, and community program managers? This post will answer this question, and some related ones that recently came up in other forums.

Three different kinds of metrics can be captured and reported for communities: 1. Goal-oriented, 2. Operational, 3. Business impact.

1. Goal-oriented measurements relate to employee goals and allow assessment against those goals.

A. Goals for community members

Join at least one community of practice, including the one most relevant to the work you do, and regularly perform the following SPACE activities

  1. Subscribe: Get email alerts or RSS feeds and regularly read the threaded discussion board/group
  2. Post: Start a new thread or reply in a threaded discussion board/group
  3. Attend: Participate in community events
  4. Contribute: Submit content to the community newsletter, blog, wiki, or site
  5. Engage: Ask or answer a question, make a comment, or give a presentation

B. Goals for community managers

  1. Improve business results through the activities of the community
  2. Define, maintain, and execute the community plan
  3. Define measurements for the community
  4. Report regularly on the community’s performance against goals
  5. Communicate regularly to the community and to potential members
  6. Ensure fresh content is being shared in the community, multiple voices are being heard, lively discussions are recurring, and questions receive timely replies
  7. Actively participate in the community, model the desired behaviors, and be visible as a leader and member
  8. Network with other community managers, both inside and outside of the organization to stay current in the field of community management
  9. Demonstrate, document, and train on the use of the community
  10. Regularly perform the following SHAPE activities:
  • Schedule: Line up speakers and set up events
  • Host: Initiate and run conference calls, webinars, and face-to-face meetings
  • Answer: Ensure that questions in the threaded discussion board/group receive replies, that discussions are relevant, and that behavior is appropriate
  • Post: Share information which is useful to the members by posting to the community site, threaded discussion board/group, blog, and/or newsletter
  • Expand: Attract new members, content contributions, and threaded discussion board/group posts

C. Goals for communities program managers

  1. Improve business results by institutionalizing communities, with the help of the senior executive and the other leaders in the organization
  2. Define, maintain, and execute the communities program implementation plan for the organization
  3. Define, communicate, and implement people, process, and technology components for sharing, innovating, reusing, collaborating, and learning through communities
  4. Define goals, measurements, and rewards for community members and managers
  5. Report regularly on the communities program’s performance
  6. Lead a community of community managers
  7. Manage the program’s communications
  8. Actively participate in communities to model the desired behaviors by being visible as a leader and member of multiple internal and external communities
  9. Network with other communities programs and stay current in the fields of communities and community management
  10. Implement action plans, including
  • Review and approve requests for new communities
  • Fill gaps by recruiting new communities for key topics
  • Prevent and remove redundant communities
  • Recruit, nurture, and support community managers
  • Lead by example
  • Attract new communities
  • Retire inactive communities
  • Report on community health
  • Develop, publish, and maintain documentation including FAQs
  • Develop and deliver training

2. Operational metrics are typically based on data captured by systems, but may include some data that needs to be captured manually. For example, members, posts, and replies.

A. Measurements for Communities and Community ManagersACME

  1. Activity: at least one post to the community discussion board per week, posts by more than two different people, no questions left unanswered after 24 hours
  2. Content: at least one document, newsletter, announcement, or blog entry posted to the community site per month, and content is reviewed to ensure that it is appropriate, current, and accurate
  3. Membership: at least 100 members after the first three months, with growth in membership every quarter thereafter
  4. Events: at least one conference call, webinar, or face-to-face meeting every quarter, listed in the community events calendar, held as planned, with at least 10 people participating in each event

B. Community Health Indicators

  • Green
  1. At least one post to the ESN group per week
  2. All questions are answered within 24 hours
  3. At least one newsletter or blog post per month
  4. Number of members increased over last month
  5. At least one conference call, webinar, or face-to-face meeting every other month
  • Yellow
  1. At least one post to the ESN group per month
  2. All questions are answered
  3. At least one newsletter or blog post per quarter
  4. Number of members stayed the same as last month
  5. At least one conference call, webinar, or face-to-face meeting per quarter
  • Red
  1. No posts to the ESN group in a month
  2. There are unanswered questions
  3. No newsletter or blog post in a quarter
  4. Number of members decreased since last month
  5. No conference call, webinar, or face-to-face meeting in a quarter
  • Overall health indicator
  1. Green — 4+ green health indicators
  2. Red — 4+ red health indicators
  3. Yellow — Neither green nor red

C. Measurements for a Communities Program

Here are five ways to measure the success of a communities program: PATCH

  • Participation: % of target population which is a member of at least one community
  • Anecdotes: % of communities displaying the following on their sites:
  1. Testimonials by community members on the value of participation
  2. Stories about the usefulness of the community
  3. Posts thanking other members for their help
  • Tools: % of communities having all five key tools (see below)
  • Coverage: % of desired topics covered by at least one community
  • Health: % of communities meeting these criteria:
  1. At least one post to a threaded discussion board per week
  2. At least one newsletter or blog post per month
  3. At least one conference call, webinar, or face-to-face meeting per quarter
  4. At least 100 members
  5. At least 10 members participating in each event

Here is an example of communities program metrics reported for Deloitte:

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If you are leading a communities program, publish a Community Health Report every month, and either nurture the inactive ones back to good health, or retire them:

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3. Business impact metrics are harder to capture, but are the most worthwhile. For communities, they can include:

  1. Costs saved
  2. Costs avoided
  3. Incremental revenue
  4. Improved quality
  5. Increased employee satisfaction and retention
  6. Increased customer satisfaction and retention
  7. Increased partner satisfaction and retention
  8. New business attracted
  9. Increased market share
  10. Revenue and profits from innovation

One way to determine business impact is to include a question about it in a survey of community members. Here is a survey that can be used, in which business impact is the final question:

1. How satisfied are you with your ability to do the following?

  • Share and receive new ideas, lessons learned, proven practices, insights, and practical suggestions
  • Innovate through brainstorming, building on each other’s ideas, and keeping informed on emerging developments to develop new and better ways of doing things
  • Reuse solutions and good ideas, apply shared insights, and retrieve posted material
  • Collaborate through threaded discussions, conversations, and interactions with other community members on an ongoing basis
  • Learn from other members of the community; from invited guest speakers about successes, failures, case studies, and new trends; and through mentoring to deepen your understanding of the subject
  • Ask questions and receive answers to questions
  • Help solve problems for others and receive help to solve your problems

2. How satisfied are you with the community’s tools?

  • Site: home page
  • Calendar: of community events
  • Events: meetings, conference calls, webinars
  • News: email message, newsletter, or blog
  • Threads: threaded discussion board

3. How satisfied are you with the support provided by the community manager(s)?

  • Schedule: Line up speakers and set up events
  • Host: Initiate and run conference calls, webinars, and face-to-face meetings
  • Answer: Ensure that questions in the threaded discussion board/group receive replies, that discussions are relevant, and that behavior is appropriate
  • Post: Share information which is useful to the members by posting to the community site, threaded discussion board/group, blog, and/or newsletter
  • Expand: Attract new members, content contributions, and threaded discussion board/group posts

4. How satisfied are you with the style, tone, and culture of the community?

5. How has the community helped you to accomplish the following?

  • Save time
  • Avoid or reduce costs
  • Increase revenue
  • Improve quality
  • Increase your job satisfaction
  • Increase customer satisfaction and retention
  • Increase partner satisfaction and retention
  • Win new business
  • Increase market share
  • Generate revenue and profits from innovation

Related Posts and Discussions

1. Analyze this: Useful ESN analytics

2. How to tell the health of a community

3. Community Metrics

4. CoP Measurement

5. Community Performance Evaluation

6. Articles about Goals, Measurements, Metrics, Analytics, and Reports

7. My colleague, Lee Romero, wrote a series of posts about Community of Practice Metrics and Membership in November, 2008.

8. A comment was posted in How to Be a Great Community Manager

  • Joe Caruso: “You wrote: ‘Define measurements for the community.’ How could you do this for a LinkedIn group?”

Here are ACME goals you can set for a LinkedIn group:

  • Activity: regular posts, questions receive replies, multiple people are active
  • Content: useful content is shared, it is appropriate, no spam or attacks
  • Membership: set a membership target, and then continue to increase once it has been reached
  • Experts: respected thought leaders participate regularly

9. A discussion on success took place in The Community Roundtable:

  • Rachel Happe: I’m looking for outputs/success markers. If they do all of those things successfully, what is the result that is better than if they don’t do them or do them poorly?
  • Stan Garfield: The community stays active, continues to attract new members, and is acknowledged as a valuable resource in its field.
  • RH: Agree — just looking for how I would judge good vs. great community management. It’s squirrelly but it’s something that we are trying to tackle as part of our research. If the industry doesn’t define it, other people will and not in a way we want (hello, how many likes did your Facebook group get?!?)
  • SG: In the simplest terms, good communities endure, and bad ones don’t.
  • RH: Absolutely — the long term success is clear, but if I have 5 community managers on my team, how do I know they are doing their jobs well? For example, is growth necessary? Not sure, because if you have a good size community that maintains a good engagement rate, growth wouldn’t necessarily be a good measure. Success really comes down to how the community feels about the community (not the community manager) — for us, that’s hard to ask community managers to self-report well, especially if they have not measured their community for it.
  • SG: Growth is not necessary, but some slight growth over time is a positive indicator. Decrease in membership is definitely a bad sign. You can monitor what is being shared, how lively the discussions are, if the events are well-attended, do many people volunteer to present, is there a good variety of participants, do new members feel safe to contribute, etc. To find out how the community feels, ask the members to provide feedback, either openly or privately.
  • RH: That’s a lot closer to what I’m trying to get at, and brings up the diversity of respondents as well as the diversity of leadership. Both of these correlate to research from the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence when they look at the trust/innovativeness of a network.
  • Mark Britz: Ask a member: Do you feel a part of a community? Who is in it? What’s its value? What’s its purpose? These are important answers. Community is defined by the community members, not the community manager. (This led to a subsequent thread on surveys.)

10. Community Roundtable posts

11. Feverbee posts

What goals and measurements do you use for communities?

Written by

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/

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