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NEXT ISSUE: COMMUNITY LIFECYCLE Like all living things, communities of practice also go through phases in their development. What does each phase look like and how should community managers plan to ensure that that your community continues to grow and thrive?

Our resource packets are created to provide community managers and other network builders with essential tools on a variety of topics to help them get on with the business of developing their communities. We also encourage you to review the categories section on the right-hand side of this page for more targeted resources.

Click on the image above to go directly to each tailored resource packet. Let us know if you have resources you would like to add or share with the community!

P4 / NEXT ISSUE Understanding the community lifecycle and what it takes to ensure your community thrives! PLUS resource packets to help you!!

P1 – P3 / COMMUNITY BENCHMARKS Know what the road ahead in community building looks like and plan accordingly.

THE Right-UP IS001

SPRING / 2013

Community Benchmarks

We get asked a lot for benchmarks to measure the success of communities, and honestly, a set of reliable benchmarks are really hard to find. However, we've come across a set of 10 benchmarks that we think should help teams and community managers better track their work.

As with most things community related, this is not a definite list and we are constantly working to improve, add to the list, or remove items from the list.

Let us know what you think of these and how they apply to your own community.

what the road ahead looks like as “ Know you launch and plan the development of your community.

10 Community Benchmarks

4. Registered members to active participants: 50% to

9. Amount to spend on community

0.01% (early stage - late stage)

platforms: $500k enterprise, $50K mid-

These are two very different numbers and unfortunately, most

level, $30K open-source, $2K white-label

communities only document the number of registered

At the end of day, if you are building an

members as an indicator of growth. This is insufficient. The

external community of practice at WBG, the

older the community, the more registered members you will

only Bank approved platform to use is the

have that have drifted away (lost interest, new life priorities, or

Community for Development platform (C4D),

The first stage of the community lifecycle is

even died). Hence you might begin at 50% and it will gradually

which comes at no cost. Of course, internal

the conception/on-boarding phase of the

decline thereafter. This benchmark, however, is not one to lose

communities of practice can also continue to

community and this phase ends when more

sleep over. Lose sleep over benchmark #3 instead.

use Spark, which again, comes at no cost.


1. Time to reach critical mass: 3-9 months.

than 50% of the growth and activity is being

What makes collaborative platforms

generated by members (as opposed to the

expensive to build and maintain are the

community management team). The default

number of features added to it. We like to encourage a slow growth of features with

time frame to reach this stage for most communities is at least one year, but with proper coaching and strong engagement plans, it can be shorten and can take

platforms rather than a platform with all the

The bigger the community, the larger the number of lurkers. Get comfortable with this simple fact.

bells and whistles - you'll find that the majority of your members only need 3-4

anywhere from 3-9 months. Tip: Community building is not about quick wins.

features anyway.

3. Number of lurkers to registered members: 2. Time to reach maturity: 1-3 years

This second group of members is also known as

Back again to the Community Lifecycle - the

20% - 50% (early stage - late stage) The bigger the community, the larger the

fringe members. With good community practice,

Maturity phase officially begins when 90% of

number of lurkers. Get comfortable with this

you should be able to change this metric to

activity/growth is being generated by

simple fact. The biggest reason for the increase

around 50% active members in early stage

members of the community and ends when

in lurkers with growth is that the community is

communities and 25% in mature communities.

activity/growth is self-sustaining and there is

actually attracting a lot of lesser-interested

a very highly developed sense of community.

members. In other words, as the community

A good community strategy is one that has a

grows and word of mouth/advertising increases,

3 year plan that concretely demonstrates

people who are not closely aligned to the

how the community will develop through

original target group of members join the

each stage of the lifecycle.


5. Newcomer to regular conversation ratio: 25% Simply put - this is the number of unique, new, visitors to those that become regular members six

8. Salary of a community manager: $40K without experience, $80K with experience. (Industry standard)

months later. 6. Monthly community posts per community manager: 10,000

Here's what is really important when it comes to hiring community managers and backing it up with needed resources - a community manager can only be truly effective if he is given the right amount of time to manage that community, ideally 100%. You can't expect much from a community if the community manager spends 10% of his/her time managing and developing it. 3 more things to note:

This is the amount of activity a single

community manager can handle over the

A community manager is not the same thing as a social media manager. While both may use the same tools, community management entails a deeper understanding of how knowledge flows within an ecosystem and how to best motivate people to share and be part of the system.

the effectiveness of a community manager declines dramatically and this typically happens

Also interestingly enough, most community managers I know don't refer to themselves as community managers.

lifespan of a community. Beyond a certain level,

around the 10,000 post mark. It might also be necessary to begin thinking about spreading the

7. Active members per community manager: 1,000

10. Return of Investment: 10% early stage, 200% later stage ROI is the dollar return per dollar spent. Most, if not all, community costs are front-

How many active members can one community

loaded (platform, training, staffing, events),

manager handle? Apparently, it is around 1,000.

and so the ROI within the first 18 months is

Notice we're talking about active members here

usually low. Typically, after one year in

and not registered members (a number that is,

existence, funders should be able to see the

quite honestly, irrelevant. Anyone can join a

impact the community had/has on a particular

community, but getting them to become an

subject matter. The tricky bit is knowing how

active member is hard). After the 1,000 active

to measure the impact a community has and

member mark, it becomes very difficult for a

one way of capturing this is by surveying

single person to keep everyone engaged and

what the members/partners are doing in the

fulfill elements of the community management

community and outside of the community.


How far is that new knowledge travelling?

Being part of a successful community and managing one from day-one are two very different

work of community management across a small

things. When hiring, experience in the trenches of grassroots organizing and community building

team - say 2-4 people, to allow for better

may yield better results than a communications expert familiar with Web 2.0 tools.

management and a burnt-out community

And what exactly becomes of it when it


reaches new destinations?

Communitybenchmarks 2013  

COMMUNITY BENCHMARKS Know what the road ahead in community building looks like and plan accordingly

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