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June 13, 2019

39 Online Community Stats You Should Know From 2019

39 stats from the State of Community Management 2019, an annual report from The Community Roundtable that shows communities accomplish complex objectives.


Check out 2020 online community stats here

The Community Roundtable annually releases The State of Community Management Report, and it’s chock-full of timely online community stats to help inform your strategies in the year ahead.

Community is increasingly recognized as a valuable and effective way to create complex organizational change, and The Community Roundtable’s research has backed up and lead that effort by finding hard data and facts.

We’ve pulled out 39 of our favorite stats from the 2019 report that you should know going into 2020 (but don’t worry, there’s more stats and info to be had in the full report!)

We broke down the online community stats into these categories:

(Not totally sure what an online community is? We’ve got you covered.)

Benefits of Community for Community Members

1. 63% of communities empower members frequently or all of the time, in the following ways:

  • Asking questions (76%)
  • Providing solutions (68%)
  • Connecting (65%)
  • Being heard (61%)
  • Feeling seen (60%)
  • Leading (35%)

2. External communities impact these complex member objectives:

  • Networking with peers (77%)
  • Trust & confidence (65%)
  • New ideas (61%)

3. Communities empower members, leading to high rates of engagement:

  • 7% of members explore
  • 9% ask and answer
  • 11% share
  • 21% validate
  • 52% are inactive [Note: Instead of seeing this as a negative, compare to #7]

Benefits of Community for Your Organization

4. On average, internal and external communities generate 6,469% ROI for organizations.

5. ROI tends to follow this trend as communities age:

  • At 2 years: 1,352%
  • At 4 years: 6,295%
  • At 7 years: 7,593%
  • At 10 years: 10,158%

6. 67% of community programs saw an increase in value.

7. For those who work in social media, engagement rates average between .05-5% of their total followers. In contrast, almost 50% of community members are actively engaged.

8. External communities impact complex organizational objectives:

  • Customer retention (61%)
  • Lower support costs (52%)
  • Innovation (32%)

9. The top 5 functional processes enabled by community are:

  • Customer support (63%)
  • Knowledge management (53%)
  • Learning and development (52%)
  • Marketing (48%)
  • Product/engineering (39%)

10. 74% of external community programs identify customer support case deflection as a functional process they support.

Organizational Goals for Community

11. The top three business outcomes connected to external community values are:

  • Customer retention (61%)
  • Lower support costs (52%)
  • Innovation (32%)

While you’re at it, download the full State of Community Management Report. The analysis that goes along with these stats is worth a read and will help you wrap your mind around how organizations can use community to center themselves around their members or customers.Download the Community Roundtable's State of Community Management Report

Where Communities Fit into Organizations

12. Over 50% of community program budgets are approved by either C-level or boards of directors.

13. 70% of community professionals report that the perception of their credibility and value has increased.

14. 66% of community professionals report that interest from around their organizations has increased or increased significantly over the past year.

Executives and Community

15. Of the programs that can calculate community ROI, 66% share it with executives.

16. 63% of all executives are supportive of community approaches, although many don’t yet understand exactly what is required for success and how they can better support community programs.

17. Communities have received 46% growth in executive support.

Community Ownership

18. 36% of programs include performance goals for individuals outside of the community team.

19. How communities are governed:

  • 65% of external communities are centralized
  • 13% of external communities are cross-functional
  • 12% of external communities are decentralized
  • 8% of external communities are decentralized with a Center of Excellence

20. The top five functional groups most likely to have community performance goals are:

  • Marketing (40%)
  • Customer Support (40%)
  • Product/Engineering (31%)
  • Learning/Education/Training (31%)
  • Senior Executives (22%)

Who should own your online community? Start here for guidance: Who Should Own Your Online Community?

Community as a Career

21. Only 19% of organizations have a clear career path for community professionals.

22. Only 25% of organizations have community roles that are formally defined and approved by their HR departments.

23. Only 49% of community professionals have been promoted.

24. Only 8% of community leaders trained specifically for a community role.

25. Community teams only spend 9% of their time on business management.

26. 34% of community teams are a team of one.

27. 50% of community professionals experienced a high degree of burnout over the past 12 months.

28. 69% of community professionals see a future themselves as a community professional.

29. 80% of community professionals are optimistic about the future for community at their organization.

Struggling with burnout yourself? We can help: 3 Ways Community Managers Can Combat Occupational Burnout

Challenges for Communities

30. 59% of community teams lack a dedicated budget.

31. 70% of community programs lack an approved roadmap.

32. Only 17% of communities have a resourced roadmap.

33. Communities with advanced strategies are 2x as likely to be able to prove value.

34. Communities with advanced strategies are almost 3x as likely (47% vs. 17%) to have an approved and resourced roadmap.

35. 76% of community programs cannot measure their strategy.

36. 33% of programs with advanced strategies recognize the need for business skills vs. 24% of all programs.

37. Only 34% of community programs saw any increase in staffing.

38. It varies whether organizations have a community strategy:

  • 29% of communities have a draft of a community strategy
  • 24% have an approved, operational, and measurable community strategy
  • 17% have an approved community strategy
  • 15% have no documented strategy
  • 14% have an approved, operational community strategy

39. The top frustrations for community leaders include:

  • Not enough community management resources (32%)
  • Unclear direction/lack of strategy (15%)
  • Lack of executive understanding (13%)
  • Unrealistic expectations (8%)
  • Technology changes (8%)

Advocate for your own professional development. This is critically important. Quote from Rachel Happe of The Community Roundtable

This is relevant for organizations as a whole and community professionals. If you’re an organization that’s truly committed to a community approach, you have to be dedicated to both providing opportunities for career growth. And if you’re a community professional, make time to learn business management skills and advocate for your own professional development.

Download the Community Roundtable's State of Community Management Report

Communities are a Powerful Organizational Force

Hopefully, these stats have painted a picture for you of where communities stand in organizations, where they’re positively impacting ROI and functional processes, and where organizations can improve their community approach.

“…Community approaches accelerate our work, empower individuals, and create powerful feedback loops, helping organizations adapt and change.

Then why aren’t all organizations racing to adopt community approaches? Building and operating successful, productive communities requires a radically different mindset – one that does not put your organization at the center.”

– Rachel Happe and Jim Storer, The Community Roundtable

Elizabeth Bell

Elizabeth Bell is the former Content Marketing Manager at Higher Logic. She’s passionate about communities, tech, and communicating about both effectively. When she’s not writing, you’ll probably find her cooking, reading, gardening, or playing volleyball.