Five Early Steps Towards Community Health
Photo source: User pictoquotes on flickr.
Planning for a healthy online community is like planning for a healthy self: you need to set some goals, define a plan, execute that plan and track results. Like healthy communities, healthy bodies don’t just turn up overnight. When setting out to build and manage a healthy online community, start with these five steps.
1) Designate a community manager.
Most successful online communities can be traced back to a highly effective community manager. It’s important that you have one for your’s. An online community without a community manager is like a ship without a captain. You need that ship to be steered and guided in the right direction.
2) Define what it means to be healthy.
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When someone wants to become healthier, there’s usually a larger goal at play: losing weight, improving cardio, looking better, living longer. For your online community, determine what that larger goal is. Perhaps it’s deflecting support costs, growing revenue or decreasing customer churn. This critical step must be done before you start looking at particular health metrics.
3) Define the health metrics to track.
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ON-DEMAND WEBINAR: Top Metrics to Track Community Health
Now we get down to brass tacks. To lose weight, we’d track things like intake calories, expended calories and our weight (of course). Our data sources would be things like food labels, a FitBit and a scale. For our online community, we might want to look at page views, active users, returning active users and comments per blog post. Our online community platform provides these data sources via its analytics engine.
4) Align the community manager’s goals to the health metrics.
Whether it’s a bonus plan or a weekly report that’s reviewed with management, the community’s health goals must be explicitly aligned with the community manager’s goals. If the CEO asks, “how is the community manager performing,” then the data should tell the primary story. In personal fitness, you’re intimately tied to the goals related to your health. In online communities, the community manager needs a laser focus on the related health goals.
5) Define how you’ll analyze the health metrics.
In isolation, the number of active users is not too meaningful. So you have 150,000 active users. Congratulations! What does that mean? If you had 185,000 active users last month, it means that your community is leaking active users (and that’s not good).
DOWNLOAD: Community Health e-Guide.
So determine how you will analyze particular metrics. You’ll want to compare the number of active users over time. And, you’ll want to track shifts in active users among newly-joined members vs. long-time members. If the activity levels of long-time members declines, you need to dig in to figure out why (and, correct it).
Often when launching a new community, we’re anxious to jump right in and start recruiting and engaging with members. The wise thing to do is begin with these five initial steps. In other words, get the fitness plan on paper before running out to the gym.
Check out our SlideShare
Check out our SlideShare, in which our heroine (Susie) adopts a similar starter plan in building out a healthy online community. We won’t give away the ending: view the full presentation to see how this cliffhanger ends.