Setting Precise Targets For Your Community Work

Community goals tend to fall into two buckets, umbrella targets and precision targets.

If your target is to increase the number of active participants, reduce churn rates, or increase the number of posts with a response, you have umbrella targets.

Umbrella targets reduce the sum of all community activity into a trackable metric to determine if the community is doing ‘well’.

Umbrella targets are clunky, confusing, and tend to reflect a lack of strategy, understanding of the community’s value, or limited access to data.

Umbrella targets also often reveal entirely the wrong thing. For example, a customer support community which answers an increasing number of potential questions will see a decline in active contributors (members find their answer without having to ask the question) while delivering an increase in community value.

Worse yet, umbrella targets don’t easily lend themselves to strategy. Want to increase active contributors? There are a dozen good (and bad) things you can do to achieve that.

The better approach is to set precision targets.

Precision targets highlight very specific metrics which yield the biggest results.

For example, here is a sample of a thousand posts on Spotify’s community I scraped, broken down by time to first response:

My data scraper tells me the community has:

  • Response rate: 40.7%
  • Accepted solution rate: 6.18%

But if we dig deeper, we get some really interesting results:

(click here for full image)

If we’re only looking at median time (please don’t use averages!) to first response, all the categories and elements of the community are treated with equal value. i.e. a response on an off-topic discussion is treated as valuable as an urgent question from a premium customer locked out of their account.

That doesn’t make sense.

This is why we need precision targets such as:

  • Reduce the median time and range (IQR) to responses to questions in accounts, subscriptions, and premium from [x] to [y].

We can also look at not only the time to first response, but also whether questions even receive a response.

(click here for full image)

We can see above the response rate per category and see some areas (like accounts, premium, and subscriptions) do get high response rates while others have far lower response rates.

This is how it should be – some questions are more valuable than others.

Our precision targets might be:

  • Increase the response rate to questions in ‘accounts’ and ‘premium’ to 100%.

Now you have achievable precise targets which reflect the most valuable aspects of your community.

These are easier to explain to your boss than vague umbrella targets about increasing activity.

They are also things which you can generally control and lend themselves to strategy.

For example, if you want to reduce time to first/answer rate in accounts, you might:

  • Hire community managers/moderators in other regions to provide 24/7 coverage.
  • Increase points for MVPs who provide the first answer to questions in accounts.
  • Have an alert system which emails MVPs of questions in accounts which are unanswered for 5+ hours.
  • Prioritise showing account questions on the landing page of the community.

Believe me, it’s a lot more motivating to work towards a specific target this quarter over which you have control than chasing some vague umbrella target which you don’t.

p.s. I’m hosting a workshop for community professionals looking to move to an advanced level at CMXSummit on September 4.

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