Tracking the Lifecyle of Community Members


(Anne Bercilla) #1

If you’re in the CMX FB group, you might’ve seen me post about this recently, so I apologize for potential redundancy.

I’m curious how others are tracking the lifecyle of individual community members., i.e. from recruitment to participation. Do you have a spreadsheet? Does the platform you use make it easy to do this?

Since posting about this on CMX, I spoke with my manager (also new to community), and decided that I shouldn’t stress about this since we wouldn’t know what to do with the data anyway. Tracking aggregate numbers, though, is something we’re doing (e.g. how many people opened my message, how many joined the group, etc).


(Sarah Hawk) #2

I’d love to hear from you on this @edfryed – I remember sitting next to you at CXL Live when you looked at the path that I’d taken though Inbound. I confess to being jealous of the transparency and simplicity of the data! Do you find it useful? How do you utilise that knowledge?

@aberc I think it’s very powerful info to have. I do my best to hack together member paths (when someone joins, if they lurk then what they read, if they participate then when to follow up etc). I don’t have a good system and I’d love to hear from anyone that does.

Your approach is great on an holistic level, but if you want to analyse issues down the line it might be useful to have more granular data.


(Anne Bercilla) #3

Agreed! I find that it’s helpful to have as much info as possible about your members, not for any specific reason but just so that when I chat when them, I can pull out these random facts about them and make them feel special. :slight_smile: Plus, yes, also so I can ask questions about their activity like you have done with me, e.g. “is there a reason you didn’t feel comfortable posting this in the group?”


(Ed Fry) #4

Thanks for the nudge @HAWK

On there own, our internal profiles are good for looking at a members activity (particularly spammers, partners and people we’re reaching out to one-on-one).

What it’s most powerful for though is building highly segmented lists for prompting specific actions - which we can then manage in our outreach and other community management processes.


(Sarah Hawk) #5

Based on what people read and engage with?


(Richard Millington) #6

I’d be REALLY interested to know the goal here.

If you had all this data, what would you do differently?


(Anne Bercilla) #7

Hi @richard_millington! Very cool to speak with you—your book has been extremely helpful for me. :smiley: Re your question: this is our question too! What would we do differently with all that data available to us? My idea was that if I had the lifecycle of each community member available to me, if/when I highlight a member in the group, I could pull from that data and say “I reached out to Sarah X date, she joined X date and has been active ever since!” Something like that. But again, this is why we haven’t tried to track all that—it’d probably be a lot of work without a clear objective.


(Anne Bercilla) #8

Ooo this is also something I should do…


(Richard Millington) #9

@aberc I think that’s quite common.

So I’d strongly suggest skipping the data side now and figuring out:

  1. What do you believe is happening now?
  2. What would you like to improve?
  3. What tools are available to you to improve it?

Then you can work through that problem in a relatively efficient way. So I’d be looking carefully at where people are dropping out now.

So track:

  1. Number of unique, new, visitors (unique visitors * % new visitors)
  2. Number of unique visits to your registration page.
  3. Number of new registrations.
  4. Number of members whom participate for the first time each month (you’ll need to do this manually usually)
  5. Number of members whom stay active for 3+ months (@Bas_van_Leeuwen’s tool is pretty good for a rough idea of this)

Once you have that data, you can begin testing interventions to improve each of them. But that’s the first thing I’d be tracking.


(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #10

I’ll soon be tasking a developer to work on a new Discourse plugin called Admin statistics digest. I’d say it’s quite relevant to what’s being discussed here. Same goes for Tagging and metrics in Discourse.

We’d love to hear your ideas for such a plugin!


(Alessio Fattorini) #11

What I can say? :slight_smile:

I’m super-interested in all your points, I consider this plugin extremely helpful for our role.
As you said “observe patterns and try to discern ongoing trends” is very hard with a number of community members > 50 :slight_smile: How can I help you?

If I need to choose, these are very relevant to me

  • These users joined some time in the past 60-30 days, and look how well they’re doing! (highlight of newly registered users that have stayed active)
  • These are your top non-staff users of the month
  • These formerly very active users are not so active any more. (especially if I’m losing a TL3 user, let me know!)
  • The 5 most active responders in the #support category were: …
  • Most popular topics & posts this month (essentially a monthly version of the weekly digest, except more data-heavy, showing shorts lists of most liked, most viewed, most replied to etc.)

(Nick Emmett) #12

This is such an interesting thread.

This is such a common thing and one of the toughest things to learn when becoming a Community Manager. There’s been conversations about the topic in this forum before, I remember chatting to @Bas_van_Leeuwen about it at SPRINT London earlier this year too.

@richard_millington’s suggestions are great places to start, but pay particular attention to the first three. Know what the situation is right now, and which parts of that you want to improve.

If I remember correctly you run a Community for a test prep company, what’s the actual aim of your community, what do you want people do there and get out of it?


(Sarah Hawk) #13

Yay, I totally support this. Discourse stats have long been a frustration for me.

It would also be useful to see the new member – contributing member conversion rate.


(Richard Millington) #14

From a pure community management perspective, one of the interesting things to see would be a daily list of names, email addresses, and some relevant information about them.

e.g. "The following people have joined but haven’t participated yet.

Joe Smith, Charlotte, USA, joe.smith@gmail.com, viewed [discussion1], [discussion 2], [discussion 3].
Joe Smith, Charlotte, USA, joe.smith@gmail.com, viewed [discussion1], [discussion 2], [discussion 3].
Joe Smith, Charlotte, USA, joe.smith@gmail.com, viewed [discussion1], [discussion 2], [discussion 3].

and then…

"the following used to be highly active but haven’t been around in a few weeks.

Joe Smith, Charlotte, USA, joe.smith@gmail.com, last 3 topics were [discussion1], [discussion 2], [discussion 3].
Joe Smith, Charlotte, USA, joe.smith@gmail.com, last 3 topics were [discussion1], [discussion 2], [discussion 3].
Joe Smith, Charlotte, USA, joe.smith@gmail.com, last 3 topics were [discussion1], [discussion 2], [discussion 3].

etc…

I think this sort of system (especially with volunteers) would be REALLY interesting and useful.


(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #15

What data do you suggest we should be looking at for this though? I think this is another good use of the “past 60-30 days” timeframe. The stat could be:

In the past 60-30 days (24. April - 24. May):

  • 98 new users signed up. As per 24. June:
  • 25 are TL0
  • 54 are TL1
  • 15 are TL2
  • 4 are TL3

I’m a bit hesitant to build such a feature without some clear intent built into it. The majority of new users in a community are one-time posters or lurkers. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a fact. Many people poke their heads in, and only some of them will eventually decide to stick around.

I wouldn’t want to shine light on this metric unless we can give the admin a clear idea of what they should try to glean from this metric.

Yep, that one’s already on our list and will definitely make it into the first iteration of our plugin.


(Richard Millington) #16

Sorry I wasn’t clear. I’m not referring to the metric (although interesting). I’m talking about a list of names that the community manager can then contact and engage them in the community. This should reduce the number of 1-time posters and lurkers. I think this would be a REALLY useful tool to simply have a list of a few names to work through each day.


(Sarah Hawk) #17

The percentage of people that signed up that have posted at least once. While the TL stats are useful, they don’t tell me whether someone has actually posted (eg what percentage of those 79 TL0/1 users are engaged?)


(Heidi Morgan) #18

Ignorant newbie speaking here, but could you just quickly clarify what TL0/1/2/3 means for me? And is it a mainly Discourse-related term? :slight_smile:


(Sarah Hawk) #19

Thanks for asking – others are probably wondering the same thing!
It’s a 100% Discourse related term.

TL= Trust Level

When you sign up on a Discourse based platform, you are almost always TL0. This means that there are limitations on what you can do (PM others, post links etc). This is customisable at an instance level (we don’t have strict rules here because the nature of the audience makes it unnecessary).

As you pass bars (read x posts, spend x time onsite, visit x times, reply to x posts etc) you graduate up the TLs.

Once you reach TL3 you get the ability to perform mild moderation tasks, and on some forums you get access to private categories.

This image should clarify things further:


(Heidi Morgan) #20

Thanks @HAWK for clarifying, sounds like a useful tool! (Ugh, as an SMF user, Discourse constantly makes me envious :P)