What is the total feasible audience size (TFAS) of your community?
That’s an important question to answer.
If your TFAS is 10,000 and you have 9,000 members in your community, your entire strategy would be different. You can skip promotion and conversion tactics. You would focus solely upon activity and sense of community. You need to keep those members - there aren't any more.
If you only have 1000 members, then it’s very different, you spend more time upon growth and conversion.
Another example, imagine you’re launching a community into a field with several established communities. If you don’t know the TFAS, you don’t know how much of a threat these competitors are.
If competitor X has 7000 members and competitor Y has 2000 members and the TFAS is 10,000 members – that doesn’t leave many members for you. This doesn’t mean you can’t launch a community in this field, but you need to embrace an insurgent strategy. You focus upon a tiny, niche, with a unique type of community then gradually expand.
However, if the TFAS in the above example was 100,000, you know that the competitors have done a poor job of establishing themselves. You want to surpass them through superior community development.
In short, there is a big difference when competitors have 10% of the TFAS and when they have 90% of the TFAS.
To calculate TFAS you need signifiers of above average interest. We want to know not just how many people buy the product/service/participate in the topic, but how many have an above average interest in the topic. How many care enough about the topic to talk about it in their spare time? This shrinks the total audience.
This is one of the few cases where social analytic tools can help. If you know that 1m people in the UK go fishing (a good study can reveal these figures/trends), you can then check how many people talk about fishing online (FB, Twitter, Forums, Blogs etc…) and get a reasonable %.
Alternatively, use a proxy figure. How many customers do you have? Approximately what % of them have liked you on FB, spoken about the topic on Twitter, written to customer service, or supported you in any other way? Multiply this % by the total size of the market and you get a TFAS.
This is FAR from a precise figure. But you don’t need to be precise. You need to know 3 things:
1) Roughly what % of the target audience you have in your community
2) Roughly what % of the target audience your competitors have
3) Roughly whether the TFAS is growing or shrinking.
What you focus upon in your community is the result of these three questions.