What are the KPIs for an online community?

Marketers sometimes like to make up acronyms for really simple things---for example, they say "KPI's" instead of "how we measure success." 


KPI stands for Key Performance Indicators, and they are metrics used to help an organization understand and track progress toward its goals.  So if you're going to have KPIs, you must already have a strategy in place, or you won't know what to measure, right?


We've talked community strategy in this blog before, so this article will build on that base and help you figure out what you can and should be measuring when it comes to online community.


If you're doing it effectively, your online community should consist of a home base, or center of gravity, on your own website, with satellite outposts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.  The satellites should feed traffic and activity to your on-site community platform. 


Regardless of which tools you choose, you do need to understand up-front what you hope to gain by using those tools. How will your online community help your business or organization achieve its goals?


With your online community strategy in hand, take a look at the metrics listed below, and consider which ones will support your own case. 


For example, if one of your goals is to sell ad space on your website, then you'd want to track increases in page views across the platform.


If one of your goals is to create a brand ambassador program, then you might want to pay close attention to the most active members of your blog or forum.


This list is not exhaustive, but it should spark some ideas for your own list of KPIs.  Ideally, you will narrow it down to 3-5 really important metrics, otherwise you will be drowning in data and unable to process it intelligently.


Community Platform

# of new registrations

# of page views

Time on site



# of posts

# of comments

# of unique commenters

# of page views



# of Page views

# of new topics

# of posts

Most popular topics

Most active participants


Chat Events

# of participants

# of page views


Media Sharing

# of plays

# of new files uploaded


Email List

# of new subscribers

# of unsubscribes

# of shares



# of followers

# of Retweets

# of mentions

# of lists you are on

# of your tweets that are "favorited"



# of fans/subscribers

# of replies to wall posts

# of page views

# of Likes



# of page views

# of channel subscribers

# of plays per video

# of comments

# of shares


Use your Google Analytics to track which satellite social networks are bringing the most traffic to your community platform, and then leverage the daylights out of those satellites! 


Don't forget to monitor (via customer surveys or research) where your audience likes to gather, and include that data point in your strategy as well.  If your members have never heard of Twitter before, then it won't make much sense to integrate that stream.


Are you tracking any success indicators for your own community? Have we missed any important ones?  Please share your thoughts in the comments.


I'd love to hear your thoughts here in the comments, or connect with me on Twitter.

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