🧭 Finding Your Community's Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) 🎯


“What’s the most important metric to measure my community's success?”

This question pops up frequently, but the answer isn't as straightforward. It hinges on your community's priorities, tech tools, and available data points.

Diverse Tech Landscape:

With over 80 community platforms and a plethora of CRM, email marketing, event, and customer support solutions, tech stacks vary widely. Each platform offers its own reporting features, from elaborate dashboards to basic data exports. This diversity means your KPIs must be tailored to your accessible data.

Unique KPI Creation Processes:

KPIs are born differently across organizations. Some follow top-down goal-setting, while others opt for a more collaborative approach. Departments may have their own KPIs, or strategies might vary within the same organization. This diversity makes a one-size-fits-all KPI unrealistic. Customization is key.

Diverse Goals:

Communities serve diverse business goals, from driving innovation to nurturing talent. Your community's KPIs should reflect these unique objectives. Whether it's revenue generation, customer retention, or talent recruitment, your KPIs should align with what matters most to your organization.

Every organization has its own unique set of goals, but communities typically contribute to one or more of the following seven objectives:

  1. Innovation: These communities focus on generating fresh value for stakeholders, often through feedback on products or collaborative creation processes.
  2. Customer and Stakeholder Retention: Communities geared towards retention aim to maintain ongoing engagement with customers, fostering loyalty and satisfaction.
  3. Marketing: Marketing-centric communities prioritize organizational growth, leveraging advocacy and ambassadorship efforts to expand reach and brand visibility.
  4. Customer Service: Communities centered around customer service excel in addressing inquiries and providing support, particularly for technology products.
  5. Talent Recruitment and Retention: These communities target the attraction and retention of employees or partners, playing a crucial role in building and sustaining the organizational ecosystem.
  6. Advancing Movements: Movement-focused communities strive to effect cultural change, often championed by non-profit or activist organizations investing in community initiatives.
  7. Community Forum: For businesses operating on a membership-based or social network advertising model, community forums serve as focal points for engagement and interaction.

Your organization's KPIs should align with its specific goals. While some may prioritize revenue generation, others may focus on staff recruitment, cost reduction, or idea generation.

Tailoring your KPIs to reflect these objectives allows you to effectively communicate the community's impact to executive-level leaders, many of whom may underestimate its value. By developing customized KPIs, you bridge the gap between day-to-day community efforts and their broader significance for organizational leaders, presenting an opportunity to educate the entire organization on the importance of community engagement.

Crafting Your Perfect KPIs:

Your community's story is unique, and so are its KPIs. Here's how you can define them:

  1. Educate Yourself: Familiarize yourself with KPI creation. Resources like Bernie Smith's work offer general insights, while community-specific guides provide tailored advice.
  2. Facilitate Discussions: Align stakeholders on top-level KPIs collaboratively. Your role is not to dictate but to facilitate meaningful conversations that lead to actionable KPIs.

Embrace the Freedom:

There's no one-size-fits-all KPI, and that's liberating. Learn from peers, seek industry insights, and then customize your KPIs to fit your community's unique narrative. There's no right or wrong answer—only what works best for your community.

This post was originally published in 2022 but has been revised and updated from its previous edition to ensure accuracy and relevance.