How to Measure the Health of Your Community

Community is like the air around us, invisible and seemingly intangible. Yet it’s a fundamental part of any organization that brings together people in the pursuit of a common goal. Often a community’s “soft” characteristics, such as values and purpose, exert a stronger force on its members than formal governance.
 
Whether a community includes employees, alumni or people sharing the same passion, community managers need tangible metrics to tell meaningful, accurate and compelling stories about the health of their community. However, coming up with such ROI-style data is easier said than done.
 
The field of community management struggles with quantitative information. Some metrics are too simplistic. An example is gauging engagement by the open rate of an email newsletter. Other metrics are expensive and time-consuming to obtain. For instance, firms may use highly sophisticated tools to monitor a community, but these require considerable investment, from IT to user training, for successful implementation.
 
There is no definite right or wrong metric, as the best one always depends on the context. As a general guide, here are 10 simple ways leaders and managers can better understand the health of their communities.

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