Community Strategy Insights

The latest insights on community strategy, technology, and value by FeverBee’s founder, Richard Millington

How To Benchmark and Upgrade Your Community Management Team

Richard Millington
Richard Millington

Founder of FeverBee

With clients, we typically benchmark a community along five dimensions:

      1. The Community Experience (UX/UI)
      2. Onboarding
      3. MVP / Superuser Program
      4. Benefits / Rewards / Positioning
      5. Community Management

    Of those five, organisations are often most surprised by the results of community management. 

    That’s because most people managing a community think they are doing it extremely well. Yet whenever we pull a sample of ten to twenty responses from any community team, we notice there is almost always huge scope for improvement. 

    This means one of three things is happening. 

        1. The community team doesn’t know they can do better.
        2. The community team doesn’t care about being better. 
        3. The community team isn’t able to do better. 
      In my experience, it’s usually a matter of knowledge and ability rather than motivation to do better. In this post, I want to share how we upgrade the skill of community teams and the principles you can apply to improve your team


      Step 1: Benchmark How Your Community Is Managed Today

      When we benchmark how a community is managed, we typically look at a few specific areas. These are

      • Quality of community management posts. This covers how well community professionals participate in the community
      • Organisation and categorisation of community. This covers how well the community activity is structured and easy for members to access.
      • Quality of content. This reviews how popular and successful content hosted in the community is.
      • Quality of events. This reviews whether the community is hosting the right events and how successful they are.

      We can break each of these down further to get a specific benchmark. 

      Benchmarking Quality of Engagement

      One of the first things we look at is the quality of responses in the community. This covers responses by community staff, moderators, and any participants of a superuser or MVP program. 

      Key questions here include: 

      Do most questions receive a response within 24 hours?

      • Do 20%+ of questions receive an accepted solution (if applicable)?
      • In a random selection of 10 posts, does the community manager(s) tag in others with expertise to answer questions?
      • In a random selection of 10 posts, does the community manager(s) welcome newcomers when asking their first question?
      • In a random selection of 10 posts, does the community manager(s) solicit an update/response to their questions?
      • In a random selection of 10 posts, does the community manager(s) end the post on a positive/optimistic note?
      • Do posts initiated by the community team seem authentic (i.e. genuine interest to get the right responses)?
      • Are subject lines kept to around 80 characters?
      • Is the overall tone within discussions friendly and optimistic?


      Benchmarking Organisation and Categorisation

      This covers the organisation and structure of the community. Specifically, we look at:

      • Are post titles updated for search traffic (if relevant.
      • Are posts properly tagged and categorised within the community?
      • Are old posts frequently archived or kept updated?
      • Is spam quickly removed from the community?

      It’s good here to check for consistency. 

      In the Miro community example below, it’s clear that resolved and accepted solutions are being used – but it’s not clear to the member which is which. 

      Discussion organisation and categorisation are those dry areas of community management which deliver huge value to members. If you get it right, member satisfaction is likely to be far higher. It makes the entire member experience a lot, lot, better.


      Benchmarking Quality of Content

      If the community hosts content, we also review the quality of content. Our key questions here include: 

      • Is the community seamlessly integrated on the same platform as the knowledge base (if relevant?)
      • Does the community manager send a monthly (or weekly) newsletter featuring the ‘best of’ the community?
      • Does the community team create knowledge articles, blog posts, or other multimedia content designed to achieve specific goals (SEO, user need/intent, gaps in search experience etc?)
      • Is content engagingly written / professionally designed with the reader’s experience in mind?
      • Is the community frequently updated with fresh information? 
      • Is there an easy-to-browse taxonomy of content?
      • Is content measured and evaluated with further content/updates planned for the most successful content? 

      If the community doesn’t host content, we can skip this area. But if it does, take a really deep dive into evaluating its popularity. Gather data from Google Analytics and the platform to see how content performs over time. 


      Benchmarking Quality of Events and Activities

      If the community hosts regular events and activities, we can also evaluate these too. 

      • Do community events attract significant levels of registrations and participation?
      • Do events have a specific goal (sharing knowledge, education on a specific topic, participation etc?)
      • Is feedback gathered from the event and evaluated for recommendations for future events?

      Using this framework we can see if events are effective within the community or not. It’s common, for example, for organisations to continually host events that few people attend.

      Step 2: Improve One Element Per Quarter

      Once we have this data, we can benchmark how the community is managed and set specific targets for improvement. 

      Using this example from the Miro community, we can see some specific areas we would expect to improve each quarter. In this case, we would first aim to improve the quality of engagement and then the content published in the community. 

      Step 3: How To Improve Each Benchmark

      Improving the quality of engagement usually involves training, building a playbook of best practices, consistently sampling the responses and providing mentoring to improve the responses. 

      Improving the quality of engagement

      You can find plenty of best practices in our Beginners’ Guide to Community Management

      Our Successful Community Management and Psychology of Community courses are also good places to rapidly upskill. 

      Generally speaking, we want to move from a response which is like this:

      To a response that is a lot more like this

      Notice the difference in friendliness, personalization, and empathy in the response? 

      Or my favourite from Colleen Young at Mayo Clinic below

      The key step is to set a high standard about what’s expected in posts, provide plenty of examples, develop your playbook, and then frequently pull a sample of responses to ensure that standard is being adhered to.

      Organisation and Categorisation

      This is a process challenge. To improve this, you need to develop the systems to prompt the community team to do the basics at least once per week. 

      This means updating post titles from one month ago for search traffic. It also means checking posts have been properly tagged and answers marked as ‘best answer’ or ‘accepted solutions’ frequently. 

      The Geotab community below (a former client) is a good example of this. 

      It also means developing a notification system to flag posts which still gain plenty of traffic each year and may require an update. A common problem is old posts sharing outdated information – yet still attracting a lot of traffic. It’s a good idea to review any post attracting 1000 visits per year to see if the content is still up-to date-and relevant. You can either do this using Google Analytics or set up a process to automate this. 

      Finally, it means checking and updating spam filters to ensure content which shouldn’t be getting through isn’t getting through. 


      Improving the quality of content

      When the content isn’t performing at the right level, it’s usually because it’s the wrong kind of content, poorly created, or inaccessible to members. All of these are challenges which can be resolved. 

      The first step is to determine which type of content is needed. Is it newsletters, knowledge articles, blog posts or something else? This requires connecting the community goals to specific content goals. 

      The second step is to invest more in the content itself. Make sure the design is compelling, it’s easy to scan, and doesn’t trip up spam filters. This often means creating good templates, setting up a checklist for compelling content, and developing a process where feedback is gathered from a small group of members before it is published. 

      The third step is to tackle the accessibility challenge. This is often a taxonomy problem, a search problem, or a failure to properly name and title the content in a manner where other members could search for it. It’s often good to gather feedback from members on content at thi stage and incorporate this feedback. 


      Improving community events

      When events aren’t successful it’s usually for similar reasons as unsuccessful content. Either the events are the wrong kind of events for the audience (i.e. they’re not aligned with what members need), or they’re poorly executed (i.e. not engaging for members), or they’re not effectively promoted to the audience. 

      We can dissect each of these to determine what’s limiting the success of events and build a checklist to improve how the events are organised. 

      This would begin with gathering feedback on event ideas from members to understand their current thoughts on whether the events are of interest. Then we would look at the structure of the event. Is it too long, short, or tedious? Is it immediately engaging and hosted at the right time? Finally, we would look at how the events are promoted and make sure members are aware of them. 

      Benchmark and Improve Your Community

      If you want to upgrade your community, the first step is to get a solid set of benchmarks in place for every aspect of your community.

      This includes:

      • Community Management (above).
      • The Community Experience
      • The MVP / Superuser Program
      • Onboarding
      • Benefits / Rewards

      You can see an example of this below: 

      Once you know how you benchmark today, it’s a lot easier to set clear targets for improvement. 

      If you want us to benchmark your community, drop us a line. 

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