Have you been working on building your online community for awhile now? Wondering if it’s going like it should?

What are your metrics? Are you going by what “feels” right? How about how your community compares to similar communities? Something else entirely?

If you’re just going by your gut, you’re not alone. In fact, measuring the “success” of a community is fairly subjective. Different things change and there are too many variables. Instead, I like to focus on whether a community is thriving or not? Still, somewhat subjective, right?

Let’s simplify the equation. Below are 5 signs of a thriving community! See how yours measures up!

  1. Your Members Visit on Their Own

It’s great that you can post content and get responses. Seriously, for many associations, that’s half the battle; engaging content can be a struggle.

But, a sign of a healthy, thriving community is that your members show up on their own, even when you haven’t shared anything new yourself. When this happens, it means your community has become a part of their daily routine. Think of the big community rock stars – Facebook, Twitter, and so on – these communities are places that people go without thinking.

If your community has achieved this status for association members, you’re going places. Congrats!

  1. Conversation – Engagement – Happens

So often, conversations are one-sided. A community manager is talking to community members, but, aside from a few “likes,” there’s rarely much follow up.

If, however, you start conversations that take off, you’re getting engagement (a great metric, but engagement means different things to different people, for this example, engagement means you get the responses you’re looking and hoping for when you do share content).

Two-sided conversations are a wonderful sign of a thriving community.

BONUS points if your community members engage among one another. That’s something even better to strive for!

  1. You Recognize Community Members OFFline

Your association, if it’s like most other associations, has in-person events. Whether they’re once a year or more frequent, they can be overwhelming.

Also, because association membership tends to change from time to time, each event may look a bit different. It can be hard to keep track of who’s who (depending, of course, on the size of your association and how frequently the events take place).

Remember back in college, where you’d awkwardly bump into someone you were friends with on MySpace when you learned you’d be attending college together? You saw their updates but you never really interacted. Then, when you met in person the strange, “do I say ‘hi?’ Or…?” moments took place.

A thriving online community stops these encounters in their tracks. If you’ve conversed with members enough online to recognize them in-person, and to continue online conversations in person, your community is thriving!

  1. Your Community Serves as an Advertise-Worthy Member Benefit

Your community is set up with a purpose. It’s designed to connect members to one another, to share important information and to build relationships. It matters and serves as a member benefit.

But, if you don’t feel comfortable advertising it as a benefit to new members, something could be lacking. If, however, you’re excited to invite new members into the community and to introduce them inside of it, you likely have a thriving online community!

Unsure of how to bring lost or new members into (or back into) the fold? Check out this great piece on re-engagement campaigns by MailChimp…which now integrates with Social HubSite!

  1. It Just “Feels” Right

I may have bashed “feelings” as a benchmark, but sometimes they matter; let’s be honest.

If you feel like your community is moving in the right direction. If you post content knowing that it will be a hit. If you’re excited to check your inbox because you know you’ll have messages from members, or that you will have been tagged inside your community. If you’re excited to log in to see what you missed overnight or while you were away for the weekend, you’re probably going in the right direction. It probably feels right; and that means a lot!

Here’s the thing. Successful, thriving communities don’t just happen. They require a little dedication. But, we’ve designed Social HubSite with the tools you need to move in the right direction. We’re passionate about what we do and about what we provide to help associations take member engagement to the next level.

Unsure of where you stand or how to move forward? Let’s chat! Check out our Learning Center for useful “How-To’s” and other information to move from “just okay” to thriving today!

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