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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.
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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
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.
>> CONT. FROM PAGE ONE
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.
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?