A great community manager can build a great online community. That being said, a community shouldn’t be reliant on one person for its success. Yes, it needs a leader – but it shouldn’t depend on that leader for its daily survival.
Here’s a quick and easy way you can determine just how independent your community is – find your community’s total post count, and figure out how many of those posts were made by you.
When you’re building a new community from scratch, it will be largely reliant on its manager – you need to encourage the development of existing conversations and get new ones started. In the early days, it’s likely that you’ll contribute up to around 75% of the community’s content (perhaps even more).
As the community develops, you want to get this percentage down.
- Insomnia Land is two years old. 22% of forum posts were written by me
- Female Forum is three years old. 4% of forum posts were written by me
- Just Chat is twelve years old. 0.17% of forum posts were written by me
There’s an obvious pattern here – the older the community (and typically, the stronger it becomes), the less it relies on contributions from the community manager. As a community grows, more of your work as a community manager shifts ‘behind the scenes‘. That being said, it’s important to interpret these numbers correctly. Your aim isn’t to get your contribution percentage as low as possible.
Insomnia Land is two years old, but it’s clear that it still relies on my contributions to keep it going. This community is one of the most challenging I have ever built, yet I am seeing a clear trend as the community ages – I see more members posting as the days and week go by, so I know the community is on the right track.
Female Forum is three years old and it’s clear that this is a community that is now self-sustaining. That being said, it’s important that I remain involved and visible as the community manager.
Just Chat is a strong, well-developed community with its own culture and dedicated members. That being said, the fact that only 0.17% of forum posts were written by me suggests that I need to be more visible in the community.
It’s impossible (and perhaps, irresponsible) for me to tell you what percentage of contributions should be made by you based on the age of your community. Run the numbers yourself and see if you’re happy with what they say.