Community Management

KPI Setting for Online Community Building

Anyone dealing with analytics (which is most everyone on the Internet) has had to deal with — continue reading
Posted by Taco Potze
September 4, 2017

Anyone dealing with analytics (which is most everyone on the Internet) has had to deal with community KPIs. Choosing what to measure and how to measure it can help re-align strategies and enable growth. It’s an important part of community building.

In other blog posts, we’ve explained which why you should run a Beta community, dos and don’ts for community building and how to boost engagement. 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 choose and set those KPIs? This is what we will explore in this post.

Community KPIs: Measure your Community Building

KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) represent data that you can track in order to measure the success of your community. Depending on where you are in the phases of community building, these are the main KPIs that are interesting for you:

  • Community members: the number of users signing up to the community
  • Engagement rates: active contributors in the community
  • Traffic: page visitors per month

Of course, ROI (Return on Investment) is also important to measure but in the first year of community building, growth and engagement take precedence over ROI. The next question to ask is which variables of these KPIs should you keep track of and what expectations should you have in terms of community performance in the first year? Let’s explore further.

1. Community Member KPIs

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

If you’re 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. You should also keep in mind how long these competing communities have been live and check out their strategies for growth. This way you can see which aspects you can and can’t emulate and how that might affect your ability to grow.

In addition to benchmarking, try to find out how many people would actually be interested in your community.

For example, if you are running a community about the 15th-century pottery from Pembroke Wales, there is probably a limit to how big your community can grow (compared to a community on video gaming, for example). At the same time, the 15th century Pembroke pottery is a niche interest with very few competing communities. Arguably, 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 you can target. And that’s okay, as long as you are realistic about it.

Now that you’ve set a target you can start your generating a monthly user report. These statistics can be measured in the Open Social Analytics Suite:

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


Community KPIs
Measure the amount of active versus inactive users in Open Social Analytics Suite.

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.

2. Community Engagement KPIs

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



FeverBee community life cycle


As you can see in this chart, you can expect between 0 and 50% of activity (or engagement) from your members in your first year (or maybe even longer). So that could be mean 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 you should measure the following KPIs for engagement (these 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.

3. Community Traffic KPIs

Because it’s so rare for a community to be super active from the start, we recommend focusing on traffic in the first year as well. This will show your potential for adding new members and increasing engagement. To get an overview of this, include the following KPIs in your monthly reports:

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

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

So there you go! Get reporting!

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. 


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