Are Brand Communities Becoming More Or Less Popular? (A Sample of Data)

Every few months we scrape a sample of brand communities to analyse if the level of participation has increased or declined.

This data is a pretty good benchmark for both the level of participation you should expect in your community and what the trend line of a mature community should look like.

Here’s the current data.

 

No. Active Users Per Community

The number of active users in most communities has declined over the past few months and appears to be returning to the pre-pandemic baseline.

If you’re seeing a drop of between 30 to 40% in the number of active users since January, this is probably less a result of something taking place in your community and more a result of bigger trends beyond your control.

However, as we can see below, there is considerable fluctuation between different communities.

Gaming is clearly a seasonal activity that peaks in holidays. However, sectors like Fitbit and HP appear to be following post-pandemic trends. Other communities (i.e Upwork) fluctuate considerably without an obvious cause.

Broadly speaking, if you’re a mature community with 1k+ active posters per month and seeing a drop of less than 30% since December, you’re probably doing fine.

 

No. Posts Per Community

The number of posts is strangely disconnected from the number of active users as we can see below.

The data feels a little skewed here, but overall the number of posts in communities has increased since January (11% on average, but 50% by median).

This probably reflects a broader trend of fewer members participating more frequently in many communities. However, as shown below, this clearly varies by community.

Summary

Overall, it’s hard to parse clear insights from a dataset that has been so disrupted by the pandemic. It’s clear community participation isn’t exploding. But nor is it clear that it’s in decline neither.

My hunch is we’re returning to pre-pandemic levels of participation where growth and activity are highly dependent upon external factors (no. customers / no. questions they have). I would expect relatively static to slight increases in participation over the coming year.

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