With the boom of community-based marketing, measuring community engagement has become essential. In this article, we are going to cover the 5 most important key performance indicators for community engagement that community builders are using, as well as some community-building activities to inspire you.
How do you measure community engagement?
First things first: what is community engagement?
Well, we can define it as the level of commitment your members show towards your community.
And it all has to do with the value they are receiving. If your community helps members accomplish their goals or gives them other types of consistent value over time, they will be engaged. In other words, they will contribute to the community and help it grow.
By leveraging the power of community-based marketing, you can measure a lot of different metrics to better understand your community. Metrics are great: they give you insights about your community that ultimately help you know what to change to improve performance and member retention rates.
However, metrics can also be dangerous. If we get too hung up on vanity metrics (a.k.a. uni-dimensional values such as the number of followers or likes) we will fail to really understand the quality and depth of engagement in our community.
Instead, it’s better to focus on those performance indicators that can really tell us what is happening in our community in terms of engagement. Below you will find the 5 most important metrics to measure in order to understand how invested your members are.
Focus on metrics that matter most for your community
A little disclaimer: the metrics below are general advice. You should carefully pick your key performance indicators based on what type of community you are building.
For example, the way we choose to measure engagement in a community such as a brand’s social media profile will be drastically different than measuring engagement in a tight-knit Discord server of people who share similar interests.
With that said, and always keeping in mind the type of community you are trying to build, let’s review the 5 most important metrics to measure community engagement.
Retention is, in short, the percentage of members who join the community and return within a given period of time. A big part of it is starting by welcoming new members the right way.
But, why is measuring retention important?
If your members are joining and then staying in your community, it’s a good signal. High levels of retention mean that members find value in the community.
Later in this post, we will talk about some activities you can implement in your community to increase retention and overall engagement.
But for now, let’s clarify how to measure retention. You can manually calculate retention, but this will quickly become too tedious because you need to constantly be monitoring your metrics.
Of course, many analytics tools will measure retention for you, making this process a whole lot easier. These tools (for example, Google Analytics or Discord Insights) allow you to measure retention and other useful metrics automatically.
So, choose the tool that makes the most sense for your community’s platform if you haven’t already. And stick with it. Measure, analyze, improve, iterate.
#2: Average Session Length
This is simply how much time a member spends in your community in a single visit.
Basically, the more engaged your members are, the more time they will spend in the community. A longer session length indicates, again, that members are finding value in what your community has to offer.
Measuring average session length is easy if you have a membership site, such as a members’ area on your website. With Google Analytics you can measure not only the session length but also how those sessions are spent (what are members doing during the sessions).
Additionally, community-building platforms like Circle commonly have their own integrated analytics dashboard. Make sure to leverage it!
#3: User Generated Content (UGC)
UGC answers the following question: how much of your community’s content is published by members?
If members are actively participating in the community and creating their own content, that means they enjoy building conversations and discussing topics of interest with others. This, indeed, it’s a key component in any community.
However, this metric alone doesn’t paint the full picture. A high percentage of UGC doesn’t mean that members are posting well-thought, on-topic, engaging content. You also need to look at what content are members posting, and how others engage with it.
#4: Active Users
This metric gives you an overview of the number of people that interacted with your community in a specific timeframe. Commonly, the number of active users is measured daily, weekly, or monthly.
And the timeframe you choose depends on your specific community. For example, if you offer curated content to members once a week, it won’t make sense to track daily active users.
To figure out how to measure active users, think about how often you want members to visit your community, and how often are you delivering fresh content to bring them back.
Along with the average session length and retention, knowing this metric can give you a deeper insight into community engagement. These three metrics in conjunction tell you not only the number of active users but also how much time members spend in the community and how many of them return.
Moderation efforts are vital to any community. As a moderator, you need to think about the number of posts or comments that other members flag as offensive.
Building a safe, friendly, welcoming environment is key to increasing members’ retention. Moderating user-generated content and taking the necessary measures to diminish the amount of inappropriate content will work wonders to increase community engagement.
Why is community engagement important?
Community engagement is what will determine your community’s growth and members’ retention. Think about it this way. When users are interested in the value your community provides, they will:
- Be your greatest advocates, helping you grow the community, and…
- Contribute to the community by actively participating, and therefore becoming loyal members who stay over time.
Community-based marketing is powerful. It’s way cheaper for brands to promote products and services to members who are already engaging with the brand, instead of acquiring leads from scratch.
However, improving engagement and building a strong community it’s not easy. You need to craft a community engagement plan. This includes, first, how you will try to increase engagement. Secondly, it also includes those relevant metrics you need to track to find out if your plan is working or not.
But let’s get specific, what can you do to improve community engagement?
Community engagement ideas
There are many activities you can organize to improve community engagement. Activities that align with your community’s purpose and provide real value for members are ideal.
When you met these conditions, community-building activities can make a real difference in how engaged your members are.
A key ingredient in building an engaged community is ensuring members feel welcome and network with each other. In this sense, networking activities work wonders. Think of dinners or lunches if your community meets in person, or regular video calls if your community is virtual.
💡 Automate community engagement
IntroSend helps members of your community automatically connect 1:1 every week via an email introduction. It’s a community engagement tool that is easy to set up and apply to any of your existing community platforms.
On the other hand, if members gather in your community to learn a specific topic, learning events are your best bet. Many communities host webinars, workshops, conferences, roundtables, bring guest speakers, or even offer group mentorship opportunities.
Additionally, you can provide regular, curated content that delivers extreme value for members. Keep in mind that users are bombarded with content all the time, so you really need to make an effort for your content to be unique and insightful.
Ultimately, what types of activities you choose to increase engagement will depend on what makes the most sense for your specific community. Start by thinking about the following:
Given my community’s average member profile, what will make them want to return, interact, and spend more time in the community? Is it regular content, learning events, networking opportunities, or something else?
Besides engaging members with activities and events, choosing additional benefits it’s vital to attracting and retaining new members. Explore these 10 membership benefits ideas to improve your community!