The Cost Of A Community That Doesn’t Buzz

November 9, 2012Comments Off

We underestimate the costs of a community that doesn't buzz.

A lifeless community hurts you financially.

At the low end, you can spend a few hundred dollars to launch a community platform. At the high end you can spend several million. Let's put the average around $30 – $60k for most organizations (the average for our clients is around $70k). That doesn't include your  upcoming revamp to boost activity. 

Now staff. How much does the community manager cost per year? $50k? $70k? If you have a community team with a community director, manager, moderator, and tech person you might have a budget of $200 – $500k per year for the community.

Now how about the time people are spending on the community. How many meetings with bosses? How much time from marketing/PR/tech/legal people is spend on the community? What is the average cost of this team? Include this in your calculation too. 

Finally add the miscellaneous costs. The cost of sending rewards to top community members, of other promotional activities to get the community going etc…

By now many of you probably have a figure of a low six to low seven figures.

Now annualize this (or if you just have the total costs, be crude and divide it by the number of years the community has been going). 

This is how much money your organization is spending every year on a community that isn't succeeding. It's insane. I've seen organizations spend over $1.5m migrating a dead community from one enterprise platform to another. 

Now look at other communities in your sector. Are they establishing themselves? They will be soon. What if one of your competitors establishes their community first? What will be the cost of your customers participating in their communities? 

Now review the decline of current marketing efforts. Are these as successful as they used to be? Probably not. Does something need to change? Do you need to lock in your audience to one another? 

Having a failing community isn't cheap. Either kill the community or make a big change. That change is usually one of the following:

  • Conceptual. You need to change what the community is for and what it's about.
  • Resources. You're not giving the staff the resources they need to make the community succeed. 
  • Staff. You need to change or train the staff managing the community. 
  • Platform. You need to change the platform (this is RARELY the solution – why did you have a bad platform in the first place? see above). 

Not an easy decision to make, but a necessary one. 

You can now buy my first book, Buzzing Communities: How To Build Bigger, Better, and More Active Online Communities from the links below:

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