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PREVIEW: Key Findings from the 2016 Community Benchmarking Study

Written by Andy Steggles | on December 20, 2016 at 9:00 AM

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How has community engagement evolved, from setting benchmarks to developing custom measurements for your organization? I recently previewed our 2016 Community Benchmarking Study, and the overarching theme is clear: effective community management can positively influence member behavior. Your organization’s community success relies not just upon organizational goals, but also upon your community manager’s ability to create an engaging ecosystem.

This is where our Engagement Benchmark Score (EBS) provides some great insight. The average EBS for the 2016 study is 79, up 19 points from 2015. As this overall average score continues to rise, we surmise that organizations are getting better at tracking the engagement KPIs that are most important to them, no matter the size, industry, or behavior of their member base. This, in turn, helps community managers create effective engagement strategies.

Here’s a refresher on the EBS: working with data from over 400 survey respondents, the EBS is calculated based on an algorithm made up of three components:

  • Subscribers to members
  • Messages to members
  • Responses per thread 

If you’re curious about past results, check out our 2015 Community Benchmarking Report.

These components are all found in the most common success metrics we track for the EBS and general benchmarking data. They are relatively easy to find within your own community:

  • Activity: number of discussion messages
  • Reach: percentage of members subscribed
  • Value: number of responses per thread
  • Distribution: number of authors

How organizations can do more with less for their community management

Most respondents said they have at least one staff employee dedicated to community management, which is a slight increase from the 2015 report. We’re still seeing community management given the short end of the stick in terms of resources allocated, but it’s shifting. It’s why many organizations try to do more with less, including using automation to alleviate the burden on busy staff.

KPIs that matter for your community’s goals

Engagement is a holistic strategy – it’s not just about community activity. At the same time, breaking down activity, performance, and member feedback into measurable chunks will help you chip away at a broader goal. Choose the KPIs that line up best with that goal, map your members’ journey with those KPIs, implement changes (e.g. automation, onboarding, etc.), and measure conversions. 

Stay tuned for an interactive section and KPI worksheet in the 2016 Study – this will include a comprehensive list of our top KPIs with corresponding tasks and examples.

Key findings for community engagement

While benchmarking yourself against other, similar organizations helps you align within the community industry on a whole, it doesn’t solve your own organization’s issues and goals. What’s important to you?

With that in mind, here are a few of our key findings for this year’s study:

  1. Align engagement with satisfaction. No matter where your members are on the engagement ladder, the key is to continue reaching out. Engagement is a tough “metric” to track, but with the right KPIs in place, you can start tracking the member’s path to satisfaction.
  2. Automation is mainstream. Online communities are embracing automation at full speed, now. For those lucky enough to leverage automated communications, tasks, and more in their platforms, it’s proving beneficial in getting members of all types (super users and lurkers alike) engaged.
  3. Customize the community and member experience. All our benchmarking data points to a happy marriage of numbers and the big picture.

RESERVE YOUR COPY: Make sure you sign up for the 2016 Community Benchmarking Study, which will be out in early 2017!

Topics: Online Community Management, Engagement, Online Community

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