Measuring your online community. Does size matter?

The importance of online communities is evident to many brands. What isn’t so obvious is how you set objectives for the community and, then, how you develop a framework to measure this.

What you measure depends on what you have set out to achieve. If awareness is the objective, then size does matter – the number of community members will count. If you’re hoping to crowdsource innovative ideas, then the quality of the contribution is more important than the quantity.

If you’re a community manager, here are some online community metrics that you might find useful:

1. Awareness

• Size of community
• Growth of community
• Links to your community

2. Engagement

• Proportion of members that contribute
• Changes in activity on a weekly/monthly basis
• Number of comments on content
• Speed of response to new content
• Tone of comments
• Amount of content contributed by community membership
• Quality and relevance of content contributed
• Community interactivity and, particularly, interactivity without brand intervention
• Length of time spent on the site
• Use of other functions, such as on-site search, within the community
• Click through rates on links

3. Loyalty

• Conversion from visitor to member
• Frequency of return
• Number of members leaving the community
• Need for moderation or intervention from the community manager
• Positive sentiment

4. Recruitment

• Sharing of content from the community
• Mentions of the community on social media
• Efficacy of any referral or recommendation mechanisms
• Traffic sources

5. Quality

• Match of community demographics to target audience demographics
• Relevance of content contributed
• Ideas and insights provided through contributions
• Response to call to actions

What would you add to this list?

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