In previous blogposts we have explained 6 things to keep in mind when you start your first community, why you should run a Beta community, do’s and dont’s of community building and how you can boost engagement for your community. A returning point in all of these posts was that you need to set and monitor realistic KPIs for your community. But how do you set those KPIs in the first year? That’s what we aim to explore in this article.

What are useful KPIs for community building?

KPIs or Key Performance Indicators are data points that you can track to measure the success of your community. Depending on where you are in the phases of community building, there are the main KPIs that are interesting to keep track of:

  • Community members
  • Engagement
  • Traffic 

Of course ROI is also important but in the first year you’ll find the focus on growth and engagement takes precedent over this. But what aspects of these KPIs should you keep track of and what expectations should you have of your performance in the first year? Let’s explore further.

Community member KPIs

First and foremost, ask yourself if it’s realistic or even necessary to expect a growth in community members in your first year. For example, if you are running a company intranet odds are the number of users won’t grow and that’s okay. 

If you are running a public community where you expect more users to come on board over time, be sure to look at similar communities and use their membership levels as a benchmark for yours. Keep in mind how long these competing communities have been live and check out their strategies for growth to see which aspects you can and can’t emulate and how that might affect your ability to grow.

In addition to benchmarking using competing communities, try and find out how many people could realistically be interested in your community. 

For example, if you are running a community regarding 15th century pottery from Pembroke Wales, there is probably a limit to how big your community can grow as this as opposed to when you start a community on video gaming. At the same time, because 15th century Pembroke pottery is such a niche interest, with likely very few competing communities, you probably have a better shot at finding and engaging users than yet another global gaming community. There will just be a lower amount of users to be found. And that’s okay, as long as you are realistic about it. 

Now that you’ve set a target you can start your monthly User Report, these can be measured in the Open Social Analytics Suite:

  • Total amount of users
  • New users in the past month
  • Active versus inactive users

After 3-6 months you should be able to figure out what the growth pattern is for your community and continue to benchmark from experience rather than from competitors and research. 

Engagement KPIs

To determine a realistic benchmark for engagement we once again refer you to the Feverbee Community Life Cycle.

FeverBee community life cycle

As you can see in the above chart, in your first year (or maybe even longer) you can expect between 0 and 50% of activity (or engagement) from your members. So that could be no activity from your members at all! Be prepared for this, and use our tips to increase engagement to help you boost it!

In your monthly reports, for engagement, measure the following KPIs which can also be tracked in our analytics suite:

  • How many new likes were there in the past month?
  • And how many comments?
  • How many new posts, events and topics did your community members create over the past month?
  • And how many did you (the Community Manager) create?
Comments created measured in the Open Social Analytics suite
Comments created measured in the Open Social Analytics Suite


Because it’s so rare for a community to be super active from the start, we recommend that in the first year you focus on traffic as well. This will show you what the potential for growth is to get new members and increase engagement. To get an idea of this, include the following KPIs in your monthly reports:

  • Total number of visitors
  • New visitors vs recurring visitors 
  • Visitors to the home page
  • Visitors to the sign-up page vs new sign-ups 

Unfortunately we do not provide this information (yet) in our Open Social Analytics suite, you can use a web analytics tool like Google Analytics or Piwik (open source) to measure these KPIs. 

So there you go! Get reporting! You can find most of the data mentioned above in our Open Social Analytics Suite

If you had success with any other KPIs to help boost your community, let us know in the comments and perhaps we can add them to the roadmap for our Analytics Suite. 

250+ Communities are powered by Open Social

Don't miss our posts

Jan 15, 2018 - Product Center

Improving User Experience with SSO and Social Login

Single Sign-On and Social Login have been making a name for themselves. Here's why we love these two Open Social features.

posted by Natasha
Jan 08, 2018 - Open Source

Leveraging Open Source for Growth

When building an online community, you can choose between open source and propriety software. Here's why open source wins.

posted by Natasha
Jan 02, 2018 - News Room

Happy New Year: Our Top Blog Posts in 2017

A new year often provides opportunities to look back and reflect. That’s why we compiled our top blog posts from 2017.

posted by Natasha