Value in the community lifecycle is tricky to measure. Value and how you define it depends on what stage of the lifecycle your community is in. It is ever-changing, from first launch to growth to maturity. You need to prove the value of your community if you want it to stick around and more importantly, grow.
The first stage of your community is actually getting it launched. You will undoubtedly get questions about how the site is doing, whether it is growing, and how you can prove that it is succeeding. Luckily there are hundreds of different metrics and data points you can look at when starting up a site.
Your main goal during launch is to increase the number of visitors to and members of your community. Most community sites give you easy access to this data or make it available through Google Analytics. We get excited about this because data is king and when we see big dashboards it usually means that we’ve collected a lot of (hopefully) good data.
The key value metrics when launching a site include member and user growth, activity in new posts, engagement on those posts, and the reach of those posts. User growth, or the total number of new people using your site, is valuable because these users will be the ones creating the content, questions, ideas, and articles that drive engagement.
Metrics related to activity, engagement, and reach are also valuable because you can measure the time it takes to answer questions, learn which users have the most knowledge, and discover which topics your community is most interested in. These are metrics you will want to talk about early on in the lifecycle of your community if you want to show quick wins.
As your community grows, you’ll want to look at what we call vibrancy metrics. One of the most important vibrancy metrics is the percentage of active vs. contributing members. This is the ratio of people who are coming to your site to consume information or ask questions to those who are actively contributing information and answering questions.
You can use this information to understand who your most active users are in both asking and answering questions or proposing ideas. With that knowledge you can encourage more people to share what they know, become advocates for your community, and evangelize your products and business.
We use vibrancy metrics as our main measurement stick for communities we launch. What are the most important metrics to prove value in your community?