It can be tricky to know how to effectively measure the success of a community. Seeing as no two communities are the same, there’s no ‘right’ way to set targets and meet goals and what works for one community, may have the opposite effect on another.
Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are both tools used by organizations to measure performance and track progress toward goals - these can be used by Community Managers when it comes to seeing how well a community is doing, and are a helpful way to communicate the community performance to key stakeholders.
Before setting out with either of these success metrics, it’s important to understand the difference and how each of them can be tackled. Lucky for you, we’re going to explain all of that in this article! 💪
- What are Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)?
- What are Objectives and Key Results (OKRS)?
- What’s the difference, then?
Read on to learn more. ⏬
What are Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Key performance indicators, or KPIs, are performance metrics designed to measure the success of a project, activity, or business. In this case, you’ll be using them to measure the success of your community.
When it comes to community, there are several things you should probably be looking for. However, these will differ based on the type of business you’re a part of and the kind of community you aim to build.
Here are some things you may want to measure in your community:
Number of community members
This will be your most basic unit of measurement to assess your community’s success. It indicates how many people in total are or have been interested enough in your community to join.
Number of active community members
In contrast to the above, this is not simply how many people you have in the community, but rather how many are active participants. So, a community member who has joined and then gone dormant will not count, only those who are regularly online and engaging will be an indicator.
Number of new member sign-ups
This is a great way to keep track of whether you’re doing enough to get new people into the community. When you keep an eye on how many new members are joining each month, you’ll be able to see when there’s a rise and, in turn, reflect on what you’ve been doing right. Or, if there’s a dip, you can assess where you’ve gone astray and look at new ways to increase that growth.
There are a number of ways to measure engagement in your community - through shares, reactions, comments, and more.
One of the most important things will be comments. Through the number of comments generally being made, comments in reply to content you’re sharing in the community, or the number of discussions being had, you’ll be able to see the extent to which people are truly engaged in the community.
Beyond this, reading into comments will be useful too, as you’ll be able to understand what people are enjoying from your community, or what they’re not seeing enough of.
Referral traffic and conversion
It’s great to keep an eye on website traffic that’s coming directly from your community. If you can prove a correlation between your content and an increase in site traffic, then you’ll be able to show the efficacy of your community.
You can do this by checking where traffic is from in Google Analytics, or by creating specific landing pages geared towards your community members or UTM links and measuring how many visits there have been.
What are Objectives and Key Results (OKRS)
OKR is an acronym for Objectives and Key Results. They’re a goal-setting framework that outlines high-level objectives and notes measurable key results that articulate what it means to have achieved the objectives. They’re open-ended and aspirational, designed to push you to be the absolute best.
Essentially, with OKRs, you figure out what your best-case scenarios are, and then explain what it would look like to have achieved that.
For each objective, you should aim for three to five key results to track whether it's successful.
Here’s an example:
Become the largest community in our industry
- Publish six blog posts in the next 30 days.
- Increase community sign-ups by 50% in the next 60 days.
- Double the number of active monthly community users in the next 90 days.
Make sure you stick to the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound) method when creating these objectives, so you don’t end up with entirely unachievable goals.
It’s more common to measure OKRs less frequently as they’re often quite ambitious goals, so it would tend to take a bit longer to see if you’re on the right track to meet them. For example, quarterly check-ins.
With these check-ins, you can see how close you are to the goal you set out and adapt what you’re aiming to achieve with the knowledge you’ve gained in the time since setting the goals, or since the last time the goals were reviewed. These are good opportunities to adapt or adjust your goals, so they match up better with the direction you’re heading in.
Wait, but what’s the difference?
The main difference between OKRs and KPIs is the type of goal that's being set. As we said, OKRs are high-level and aspirational, making them much more aggressive in nature. While KPIs are generally more achievable and measured as the process continues to unfold.
If you’re wondering which one is better to use, that’s for you to answer based on what you’re looking to measure and achieve.
A good rule of thumb is to use KPIs as a way to continuously track and improve your community-led growth strategy, while OKRs are for establishing a long-term vision and to be measured and adapted sporadically. Because of this, you’ll want to check your KPIs a bit more frequently than you would OKRs. KPIs are for continuous improvement and making sure you’re staying on the right path - so it’s much more common to assess these on a monthly, or even fortnightly, basis.
Don’t forget to check in with your key stakeholders to understand their hopes for what can be gained from the community. You can factor their thoughts into what you look for and measure, and as a result, assure them that the community is of real value to them too.
It’s good to remember that these goals are flexible. As with any strategy, the goals may not look the same in the early stages as they will look in a year's time.
Create them based on what you hope for and what you think will be important to look at, but take them with a pinch of salt and be prepared to review and adapt these goals as you continue to grow and scale your community.
Both OKRs and KPIs are powerful tools that can help measure and track the growth of your community.
Each community is different, so it’s up to you which types of success metrics you choose to use, how you use them and what kinds of goals you set.
To get the most out of any success metrics, it is essential to check in on them regularly and make adjustments as needed, so that your community's goals align with the direction you are heading.
Remember, too, that as long as you’re seeing your community members benefit from the space - be it finding networking opportunities, learning something new from a piece of content you’ve provided, or just taking part in the conversation - your community is a success! Statistics are important to have, but knowing your members are happy and engaged is just as valuable.
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