See the data below from 20 communities we’re tracking below (selected relatively at random). The Y-axis is the total number of posts.
What do you notice?
You should hopefully notice the irrelevancy of spikes.
A sudden surge of activity is not a portent of future success. In fact, it often appears between a sudden, sharp, decline (I suspect it’s a community manager taking a desperate action).
The problem is actions which drive spikes get a lot of attention. We’ve sat through more than one conference talk explaining how the speaker drove a spike in activity. You rarely see the long-term trends.
Real success almost always comes through getting the fundamentals right.
This means increasing the supply of new members, tweaking and refining the community concept for relevancy, improving the newcomer journey, and continually improving the utility or entertainment value of the community. If you get those things right, success will come.
Not sexy to speak about at events perhaps, but far more effective over the long-term.