The Value of Community Metrics

What does it look like for Community to be a quantifiable value to a company? How does that differ from it being a corporate obligation?

Last year I stood up and said, at Community Leadership Summit, that metrics are a Trojan horse to real relationships. To this day, it is the most frequent conversation I have with community builders and company leaders alike. The measurements gathered by both are in the hopes of Community being legitimized as an organization worth investment in a corporation.

Full slides are available on Speaker Deck

Most everyone struggles with quantifying the value they derive from investment in Community orgs, or its modern synonym in Developer Relations. If we start with considering Community its own organization, it becomes easy to spot the distance from the money 💰.

Which organization is a requirement and which is a nice to have?

Hugs are wonderful. There’s even some data supporting that hugs are quantifiable valuable to us all, but they don’t traditionally hold as much weight as making a company money.

The crux is this: Community is most visible when its out at a conference, or a member of a Community is tweeting great swag. Conferences and swag are expensive. Any responsible leader will eventually ask the question of “how much are we spending on this?” That number may be easy to find and it’s guaranteed to be significant. The next logical question is “what’s the ROI?” Calculations of return on investment are not nearly as straightforward.

The good news is that we have options. The bad news is the onus is on us to know which option is the right one.

Measuring everything is only slightly better than measuring nothing. Pick one KPI and do it well.

I want the ROI of Community to be less of a fumble for those of us trying to keep a Community healthy and well funded.

This is the beginning of a series that will breakdown my talk and lessons learned from succeeding, and failing, to quantify the value derived from our efforts. Send feedback and requests to me on Twitter or review my other talks. Happy measuring.