Ask Dows: Sound Measures of Good Community Management

crowdsWhat data points are sound measures of quality community management?

– Jenn Kramer (Question 2 of 2)

In two recent Ask Dows articles I’ve covered some ways to look at the Value of A Community Manager and Measuring the Quality of Collaboration. Jenn asks a great question about sound measures for good community management and I think the answer lies across both value and community collaboration.

You will have read some of the metrics for measuring good community management in these earlier articles but let’s take a step up and look at groups of measures for evaluating good community management overall.

One of my big beliefs in any measurement or tracking is that the metrics tie back to the business strategy. That will impact how community management is evaluated by the organization and is an important first step.

From there, I would look at some of these high-level areas to measure community management:

Community Member Tiering

This is very forum-focused but you can take engagement measures one step further by categorizing members. For example, in the past I’ve pulled data to look at categories of members such as:

  • members who return randomly
  • those that only return to ask a question but don’t engage
  • those that only return after reading a community update
  • those that return regularly
  • those that return a lot with high engagement

Many businesses measure engagement numbers such as the number of returning members each week, which is good information. You can also look at tiering or categorizing community members to give you some advanced insights into what content is bringing members back, when they’re returning and also insights into how to get a higher proportion to return to the community without prompts. Look at the proportions of members in different categories to understand more about your community and the sub-tiers that exist.

Identifying the tiers offers good feedback on the community at large and how the groups are potentially changing over time.

Measures To Evaluate The Plan for Responding To Negative Posts (and Posts In General)

Negative feedback in your community is inevitable. Sound community management comes into play to address the negative comments. Read a great recent article by Caty Kobe here at The Community Manager on handling negativity.

As Caty mentions, have a plan and respond swiftly. I’ve worked with one social team where the plan basically included a public acknowledgement of the feedback within 30 minutes, attempts to get more details via email and for the internal team to coordinate with key stakeholders to get a response back to the member within 4 hours.

In this example, the team measured things like the initial response time for each complaint (the goal being less than 30 minutes), the ability to provide complete feedback within 4 hours, outstanding issues and the overall sentiment around the issue which includes whether other members joined the conversation with the same issues.

Collaboration Projects

In the Measuring Quality of Collaboration article, I published some ideas for measuring the collaboration levels in a community. Feeding off that, it’s important to look at the how the community collaboration is changing and improving over time. You can look at measures on new member interactions, active user base growth, member feedback and other measures of collaboration.

This section includes engagement metrics, impact and the ability for the community management practices to encourage growing collaboration. You could also look at co-creation measures here if your business strategy is looking to encourage co-creation with your community base.

Tieing The Community To Customer Loyalty and Financial Benefits

Return on investment for social media has been a popular topic recently. While complete attribution is a nut that’s yet to be fully cracked (beware of anyone claiming otherwise), there are still a number of measures that can be tied to loyalty and financial returns.

Oracle and a number of other businesses have used media costs to estimate the value of social media by looking at the money they’ve saved on paid promotions by publishing content through social media instead. I’m a little wary of this model as the final word on social media attribution because it treats social channels like advertising pipelines, but it’s one way to get to some financial goals.

Other ways include looking at the satisfaction and loyalty of your engaged community versus your overall customer base. The hope being that engaged communities represent a more loyal proportion of your customers, cultivated by interactions with the brand through social media. NetApp, for example, presented at a social conference I was attending about developing a community for users to help each other reduced their service department costs by over $300,000 a year.

Community management is an important part of these measures for social media and areas that the community managers should participate in in order to be included.

Share of Voice

I talked about Share of Voice in my article on the Value of a Community Manager so I won’t completely repeat that but I wanted to mention it again briefly because sound community management has the power to really amplify the brand’s share of voice in the marketplace.

We’re getting to a point where share of voice in social media can be equated to part of the competitive edge for companies. I include share of voice measures, like mentions and sentiment levels, in competitive analysis on the competition’s effectiveness across social media. So it’s worth including the share of voice in any work on measuring community management.


Community management is a really important role so what I’ve tried to do is highlight some of the top level buckets that can be used as guides to measuring community management. The specific metrics will often depend on the organization and the business strategy but hopefully these areas form the outline to a robust community management measurement framework.

What measures have you put in place that you thought were sound measures of good community management?

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About the author

Chris Dowsett

Chris Dowsett (or Dows for short) is your friendly data analyst, statistician and numbers person. Originally from Australia, Chris works for Intuit as a social media analytics manager. He's also studying a Doctorate focused on improving data use in business decision making.

Jenn Kramer
Jenn Kramer

Chris - thanks so much for another thoughtful post. Keeping your previous posts in mind as I read through this one is helping me to formulate and refine answers to my questions. The high-level overview you provided is key for me as I can easily run circles in details. :) Thanks again - your posts are generous and I'm grateful for the time, energy and wise counsel.