Community Metrics : Rates & Ratios – Joe Cothrel


(Sarah Hawk) #1


Joe Cothrel @joecothrel

Community platforms typically have hundreds of metrics, but which ones are the most useful in assessing and improving performance?

Community managers have to be answerable in two directions: to the organisation, and to the users. Speaking the organisation’s language means speaking numbers. Backing up what you know with numbers makes you a powerful person in your organisation.

Numbers are challenging wherever they live within an organisation - they are always being challenged and disputed. “Community Managers need to earn the right to be treated as managers, and that means managing your metrics.”

Joe’s presentation focused on the premise that a number is of little use if not benchmarked.
At the heart of quantitative reasoning is a single question “Compared to what?” –Edward Tufte
Whenever we use numbers we are asking that question. We are always comparing to something. We rarely use numbers as an absolute.

Criteria: compare apples with apples, not apples with oranges. Compare your community with communities with a similar focus, industry, audience, age, size and region.

Rates and ratios: You can’t just look at numbers, you have to look at the comparison.

So what metrics matter?
There are hundreds of metrics that we can measure, but only 32 matter (apparently). You may need all the metrics on your platform at some point if you need to dig into a specific issue, you just don’t need them every day.

Interesting note: Mature communities see >50% traffic from search. If you’re not seeing traffic from search, something is broken.

Community managers are moving from the pie chart of engaged/not engaged to the funnel framework.

Funnel framework: target; attract; convert; engage; super-engage
Gears framework: acquire; engage; monetize; enlist

  • We should be thinking about conversion when they are thinking about targeting - what’s the yield on a particular activity?
  • You can’t just acquire members, you have to actively involve and engage them before they convert.

Metrics for acquisition

  • Uniques (the master metric)
  • Unique visitors/Domain UVs
  • Visits from SEO/All visits
  • VIsits
  • Page Views/Visit
  • Page Views
  • Page Views (Mobile)
  • Solution Views
  • Time on site
  • Member entrances
  • Member entrances/Member
  • Member entrances/Visits

Metrics for engagement

  • Registrations (increasingly meaningless as your community gets older)
  • Registrations/UVs
  • Posts
  • Replies
  • Topics
  • First replies
  • Posters/Members
  • Posters/UVs
  • Posts/Board
  • Posts/Visit
  • Kudos

Metrics for enlistment

  • Solutions
  • Kudos/Post
  • Replies/Topic
  • Superuser posts/Posts
  • Topics with first reply in <24 hrs/Topics
  • First Replies/Topics
  • Solutions/Topics
  • Employee Posts/Posts (most branded communities fall between 5-30% staff contributions
  • Minutes to first reply


  1. Find relevant comparisons
  2. Look at rates and ratios
  3. Think in conversions

We should be using metrics to inform and inspire users. No one gets tired of hearing themselves reflected back to themselves. Tell some stories.

And what about ROI from a user perspective? How have we influenced the success of our users? Do people who use this community make more money? If you can tell that story, you have a story that no one else in your company can tell.

Swarm 2015
(Bas van Leeuwen) #2

I am quite surprised about this quote, in my experience, most platforms don’t actually provide this. Even major players like Yammer hardly have any proper metrics.

(Nick Emmett) #3

We currently use Salesforce’s Community Cloud @Bas_van_Leeuwen and there are loads of metrics you can tap in to - some essential, some not so. Some are out of the box, others you have to dig in to a bit more and create some custom report types. It’s a long time since I used Yammer now but from memory they weren’t anywhere near the same level as I’m seeing here, Lithium’s analytics are also pretty awesome.

(Bas van Leeuwen) #4

I’m aware that there are some platforms (especially the expensive, enterprise ones) that have metrics, but I wouldn’t consider that “typical” :smile:

(Sarah Hawk) #5

I agree with you Bas. Joe’s talk was fairly heavily focused around the metrics that are available in Lithium.
Having said that, it motivated me to work on some benchmarking of our own platform here. Although the numbers aren’t available through a nice dashboard interface, I actually can get quite a number of stats that I hadn’t previously realised, so I think there might be more of an opportunity that people think.

We could actually call in @joecothrel for comment here. :smile:

(Joe Cothrel) #6

Thanks for great summary, Hawk - and so awesome to meet you in person!

Bas is right - my “typically” was in reference to enterprise platforms, and more specifically enterprise platforms for customer-facing communities, an important caveat. Hopefully I said that, but Hawk was a good reporter, so I’d doubt me rather than her.

Still, I think almost all of them are arguably things any community platform should provide. I probably should have said, kudos is our name for a positive-only rating (like a “like”), and solutions are replies the original poster marks as a solution to their question (used only in support communities). I don’t think anything else is too Lithium-y.:slight_smile:

(Sarah Hawk) #7

Thanks Joe, it was excellent to finally meet and have a drink!

You did. I’ll take the hit for this one. :smile:

[quote=“joecothrel, post:6, topic:1185”]
I think almost all of them are arguably things any community platform should provide.
[/quote] Totally agree, but frustratingly, they don’t. I think this is an area that we’re going to see changing quite dramatically in the short to medium term though.