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How to Measure Community-led Growth and Participation

Measuring from the start 

Years back, my company established a community to serve the users of our products and services. Like all communities, it was small at the start but gradually grew in size as we invested more time in inviting people, engaging with them, and exchanging information.  The more we did this, the more value the community found - encouraging them to return again and again.

In the context of things I write about here at Unfair Mindshare, this was a brand-led community initiative.  That means the conversations were only centered on how people engaged with our products and services.  We were trying to get them more comfortable using the products and services we offered.  We would share information, write blogs, answer their questions, and guide them to the right answers.  




At first, we started measuring Daily Active Users (DAU).  After the promotions about our new community started going out, DAU helped us understand if anyone was showing up.  DAU was enlightening us about the effectiveness of those promotions.  

The community was not designed as a come once and never again experience.  We wanted people to come, find value, and return again for more value.  Therefore, we wanted to measure a longer-term metric.  For this, we chose Monthly Active Users (MAU). 

Over the first six months of managing the community, we reported weekly on the DAU/MAU ratio we were seeing.  As users discovered value, returned, and began contributing, we noticed our DAU/MAU ratio steadily climbing.  This increasing ratio let us know that we were doing the right things and were on the right track.

The importance of DAU and MAU

When speaking with Chief Marketing Officers and community leaders about how to measure community activity, I am often drawn into conversations about Daily Active Users (DAU) and Monthly Active Users (MAU).

I can attest to the importance of measuring Daily Active Users (DAU) and Monthly Active Users (MAU) in communities. These metrics offer valuable insights into the level of engagement and activity within a community, which can help organizations identify areas for improvement and make informed decisions.

DAU refers to the number of unique users who have interacted with a community on a daily basis. This metric provides a snapshot of the community's daily activity level and can help organizations track short-term engagement trends. Comparing DAU over time can indicate whether a community is growing, stagnating, or declining in popularity.

On the other hand, MAU represents the number of unique users who have interacted with a community in a given month. This metric provides a more comprehensive view of the community's overall activity level, including how engaged users are over a longer period. By tracking MAU, organizations can better understand the size and reach of their community and identify trends in user behavior.

Are DAU and MAU heading in the right direction?

One important metric that I advise all marketing and community leaders to measure is their DAU/MAU ratio. This ratio reflects the percentage of monthly users who engage with the community on a daily basis. A high DAU/MAU ratio indicates that a community has a high level of user engagement and that users are highly invested in the community. Conversely, a low DAU/MAU ratio suggests that users are not as engaged and may not be returning to the community as frequently.

By tracking DAU and MAU, organizations can also gain valuable insights into user behavior and preferences. For example, if DAU is high but MAU is low, this may indicate that users are highly engaged but may not find the community valuable over the long term. Conversely, if MAU is high but DAU is low, this may suggest that users are interested in the community but not finding the content engaging enough to return on a daily basis.




Introducing DAC and MAC

The problem with DAU and MAU is that it suggests measuring “users”.  This is often how brand-led marketers think of and measure the activity of people in their product or service communities. When it comes to true community-led marketing in Orbit 3, not all community members are “users” or “customers”.

Therefore, I am proposing a new metric to measure the health of the community-led orbit.  We should be measuring Daily Active Community (DAC) and Monthly Active Community (MAC).

The metric works the same way as DAU and MAU, but it allows for a new definition of participants. For example, you might have participants in a community that are customers of your business.  They can be considered “users” in the DAU/MAU measures.  But what about people in the community that are not your customers? These are just people who enjoy being a member of the community. At some point, that community member may become a customer. But if you are only tracking people as “users”, it won’t enable you to track community to customer transitions well.  

For example, imagine that you have 10,000 participants in your community-led initiative.  Today, 500 of those participants might be your customers. Of the remaining 9,500 participants, you will want to track how many of them become customers over time.  Those customers can then participate in your brand-led initiatives in orbit 2.




Tracking conversions would not be possible if everyone is considered a “user”.

Additionally, in the community-led orbit, you want to be able to measure how much you are helping the company grow in forums where you are not explicitly talking about your company or products.  The involvement of community members in orbit 3 is doing its part to grow brand affinity for your business.  You know, the folks saying “that company has great people who support our community, and we like working with them.”

Measuring DAU/MAU and DAC/MAC is essential

Measuring DAU and MAU is essential for any organization focused on brand-led growth. Similarly, measuring DAC and MAC is essential for any organization focused on community-led growth.

These metrics provide valuable insights into participant behavior and engagement, helping organizations identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions. By paying attention to the DAU/MAU  and DAC/MAC ratios, organizations can gain a deeper understanding of engagement and ensure that their communities are thriving over the long term.