The 300, 100, 10 Benchmark For New Online Communities


#1

Reviewing more data from a batch of communities, we keep seeing a trend with a normal distribution around the 300, 100, 10 mark.

The communities that take off tend to get…

300 monthly posts.
From 100 active participants per month.
With 10 new registrations/activations per day.
…within 3 months of launch.

Breaking it down, you need 3 posts per day in the first month, 6 in the second, 9 in the third. Very achievable if you focus on the direct, micro, level. It’s less achievable if you jump straight into big gamification or MVP programs.

If you hit this target, you’re usually past the critical mass point. Things begin to grow organically here. If you fall beneath it, you’re usually facing a long, uphill, struggle.

If you’re falling beneath it, this usually means:

  1. You don’t have enough awareness and trust. This is by far the most common. The audience doesn’t know you exist. You usually need to build an audience of at least 1k+ people before you launch the community.

  2. Your concept isn’t sticking with the audience. You made the community too broad. The concept doesn’t excite anyone. This is usually the ‘community to talk about {sector}’ style communities.

  3. You’re making tactical mistakes. Usually in how you welcome and onboard members. Perhaps you don’t have enough interesting activity for people to engage in.

  4. Your field is too small. If your total field is less than 10k people (speaking your language), building a community might be a struggle. In this case, use an email list, regular offline meetups, or a Facebook group. Push the community out to where people already visit. Internal communities are an exception here.

If you want to give yourself the best chance of success, build up a big audience before you launch, develop a risky (and innovative) concept that will appeal to a few hundred people, and check how you welcome members compared with others.


#2

You might also notice that a community needs a few hundred posts per month to sustain any level of viability.

A challenge with any client when we begin a community project is to ramp up quickly to 300+ posts per month.

If you’re falling below that level, you’re probably not going to make it.

This sounds like a bigger number than it is.

The secret to this isn’t to have a huge number of members, but to ensure that the members you do have actively participate. This might be 300 people sharing 1 post per month or 50 people sharing 6 posts per month (the former is preferable).

Within the first two weeks, you should know how often people participate and how many members you’re going to need to hit that target.

This means you need to aggressively follow through on the inception stage of the online community lifecycle. Reply to discussions, @mention other members to be involved, initiate new discussions, nudge people to participate, uncover and talk about problems members have.

You don’t need a big bang launch, but you do need a small bang to quickly reach a few hundred posts per month.