What makes a successful community?

I went to a great presentation last week on digital metrics for one of my brands. The numbers and stats were informative and useful, but when it came time to discuss Facebook I got to thinking – can these numbers really define the success of my page?Answer? Oh, hell no! Especially when you start talking bad about my page.People were saying we fell short in terms of total fans because the number didn’t match the “benchmark” set by other brands.


I don’t think you can set benchmarks in social media. The industry still hasn’t been able to define any standards in terms of measurement analytics, so how can we say what numbers define success?

For example, a Facebook fan page may have garnered over two million fans by offering a coupon. But what if they don’t post regular content? And what if, when they do, it gets no response? Is that a success because their fan base is still over two million?

I say a big resounding no. And I think anyone who has spent any time managing a brand page would agree.

Now back to my “your Facebook page sucks” meeting. As the conversation continued, people started throwing out ideas on how to “gain more fans.” No one seemed to want to point out that, even though small in comparison to other brands, our page has some of the most dedicated, active fans out there. They respond to posts, click links and talk directly to the brand and each other without any prompting.

They are quality fans who love the product  and want to feel connected to it. They are dedicated to our community.

We’ve built this dedication by showing them the love and giving them our dedication in return for theirs. Posting regular content, responding to fan questions, sharing inside news and handing out exclusive deals (when budget permits, of course).

But not all numbers in social media are bad. Just the ones that say I’m not doing my job well. Obvi.

Let’s change gears a bit and take a look at those quality fans in more detail by analyzing some more specific numbers, like how they respond to (what else?) our content. What do our fans engage with? Which means what do they ‘Like’? What do they comment on? And what links do they click? Those are fan conversions.

If we look at these numbers, we get a better idea of how we can not only keep our existing fans happy, but how we can get more of them. And this will make our page even more successful.

Overall, surface numbers aren’t enough. As community managers, we have to dive deeper into the analytics and create definitions of success ourselves.

2 thoughts on “What makes a successful community?

  1. Good points on how we are missing the point and wanting quantity over quality. I think when something is so ubiquitous, the tendency is to go with the flow: if this brand did it, then we need to do it, even if there is no real need to follow someone else’s path. Also, super non-granular overviews drastically miss the point and waste everyone’s time with over-simplification. Solution? Data visualization to the rescue.

  2. Pingback: Back to basics: The role of Community Manager | Andrea Aileen

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