What’s important for your organization and your member community, and what metrics are best for you to focus on? Basically, how should your community be performing to meet organizational goals?
The best benchmarking and engagement reporting for your community comes from a comprehensive look at your overall best practices for engaging members. This varies depending on the size of your organization, the industry and how involved you already are with training, networking and advocacy programs.
For instance, here’s a glimpse into the 2015 Community Benchmarking Report: according to the report’s composite engagement score (CES) averages for all organizations surveyed (over 300), the top community objectives that improved community engagement were advocacy, networking and training. As a refresher, the CES is calculated based on an algorithm made up of three components: subscribers to members, messages to members and responses per thread. You can check out more detail about Higher Logic’s CES in the inaugural 2014 Community Benchmarking Report.
The most common success metrics any organization should be tracking, beyond these big-picture objectives, are easy to find within your community:
- Activity—number of discussion messages
- Reach—percentage of members subscribed
- Value—number of responses per thread
- Distribution—number of authors
The heavy ground in all this benchmarking and reporting is connecting engagement with retention. Based on two years’ worth of data in community benchmarking, we see a strong correlation between engagement and satisfaction, thus retention improves. For this year’s Community Benchmarking Report (coming this summer—reserve your copy here), we compiled over 70 variables to calculate composite engagement scores for many different categories, but using the common metrics outlined above.
The data (from over 16 million users within those 318 organizations) revealed a common theme: community performance affects every department of an organization, and benchmarking for engagement is always in flux. The 2015 State of Community Management Report by The Community Roundtable also touches on these themes—its Community Maturity Model proves that the stages of community affect performance for different departments at varying times in the community’s life cycle.
No matter where your community is in its life cycle, or how much reporting your organization is already doing, there are engagement tactics you can put into place immediately in order to vastly improve your own CES.
Here are two quick takeaways to implement before our Community Benchmarking Report is released:
- Take advantage of email as frictionless content. The more email support you can provide your members (by way of daily digests and replying within an email rather than jumping over to the community site), the less friction they will encounter when engaging. Don’t create barriers to entry—instead, offer options through email. Our report found that an organization’s CES increased 16% and message frequency increased 37% when daily digest emails had options to reply to the group, sender or within the community in the body of the email.
- Start focusing on task-based volunteering. Focus on your members’ expertise, rather than their availability, which is always changing. A time commitment can be a few hours or a few days, so create opportunities that are task-based, such as writing a blog or handing out water bottles at an outdoor event.
Questions about the upcoming report? Reach out to me directly and we can discuss your organization’s engagement and benchmarking plans.