Is Our Community a Success or Not?
Online communities are a fundamental component of the value your association provides to your members. So the vibrancy of your community is a key determining factor in the overall success of your association.
But how can you tell if your community is getting the engagement you need? One way is to monitor your community’s metrics such as engagement, growth, and satisfaction, and compare them to broader industry benchmarks. By putting your community metrics in the context of what other associations like yours are experiencing, you can get a feel for your community’s performance, as well as set goals for continuous improvement.
Comparing Your Community Metrics to the Latest Benchmarks
Higher Logic has almost 20 years of experience helping associations build impactful communities and we have over 3,000 customers in the United States, Canada, and the Asia-Pacific Region. Using anonymized data from our association and nonprofit customers, we recently put together our 2023 Association Community Benchmark Report.
Your association can use this report to:
- Compare your community performance to industry averages and identify improvement areas (or, back up your assessment that you’re on the right track!)
- Inform realistic goal setting and discussions with leadership. When I was working at an association, I found it helpful to use benchmark reports to explain whether our performance was in line with industry averages and justify our proposed growth projections.
- Understand industry community trends and challenges. For example, if you saw your community activity trending downward between 2020 and 2022, you’re not alone – we saw that in our data too. Thankfully it looks like community activity is increasing again in 2023!
What you learn from this report could impact your strategic decision-making and resource allocation, as well as help you refine the tactics you’re using to encourage engagement.
It’s our hope this detailed work will help associations foster more meaningful connections with members and deliver the kind of increased value that leads to new members and higher retention levels.
A Sneak Peek at What’s in the Report
There’s a lot to learn from the full report – here are just a few interesting findings:
- Communities come in all sizes, from 20 to 200,000 members.
- Many communities experienced a boost in users and activity during the pandemic. However, the number of unique monthly logins has since returned to a more modest average.
- Community members, on average, took 207 total actions per month, including new discussion threads, discussion replies, and replies to sender.
- Larger communities may have more users, but the percentage of users who are active and contributing trends down as size increases.
- An organization’s total budget doesn’t appear related to community success in terms of the percentage of users who log in monthly.
- Based on the length of time our customers have been using their community, compared to the size of their community, the longer an association community has been around, the more it appears to grow.
Benchmarks are Great, But What Matters are Your Members
We all want to know how our efforts stack up against others who are doing similar things in similar industries, which is why community benchmarks like Higher Logic’s are a valuable resource. They can inspire you to track and explore your own metrics, evaluate your community management tactics, and address gaps in your membership strategies.
But it’s your metrics and your members that matter most. Your members are unique, so it’s your data that will illuminate what works with your members and help you identify and address what’s most important and appealingtor them.
Knowing who your members are and what they want is step one. From there, you can explore the engagement tactics (personalization, gamification, content, etc.) your members are most likely to respond to and look for ways your tech stack can help you streamline your member engagement efforts. That results in the kind of connections that boost member experience and engagement beyond the benchmarks.
Content Marketing Manager
Kelly Whelan is the Content Marketing Manager for Higher Logic. In this role, she develops content to support association professionals and advise them on member engagement and communication strategy. She also hosts Higher Logic’s podcast, The Member Engagement Show. She has ~10 years of experience working in marketing for associations and nonprofits.
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