I’ve been following a branded community for 5 years. It’s six years old. The two creators write about its success for marketing publications. They also speak at their industry’s events and publish their thoughts on the company blog.
I wonder what makes them consider this a success?
Based on the 4 comments in the past 3 months? Based upon the absence of mentions on any social platform? Based upon negligible traffic on Alexa or Compete?
All community articles are peer-authored (i.e. paid for). There is no visible place to interact with other members. Even the sign-up button is hard to find.
It’s almost certainly a failure (and an expensive one too). My guess is the creators know this. They have access to the data. They know no-one is participating, no-one is sharing their content, and no-one is signing up. But by this point they can’t change things. They’ve built up the illusion of success (internally and externally) and now it’s impossible to change strategy to drive success.
Their boss might know this too. But at this point she’s given so much public support that a critical about turn is impossible.
In the meantime, they keep faking it. More blog posts. More speeches. More published ideas in their trade journal. The bigger the lie….
This isn’t the first community where people spend more time trying to prove it’s a success instead of finding the strategy that will make it a success. Most of us can find at least one metric that will suggest a community has succeeded
As a result many minimally active communities are proclaimed a success by community. But this locks you into the same strategy and to working on a failing community for months (or perhaps years) of your life.
Just because it’s relatively easy and tempting to fake success, doesn’t mean you should do it. You don’t want to spend years of your life locked working on a struggling community.
Don’t look for metrics to prove your community is a success. Find the strategy that will make it a success.