Finding Your North Star Metric!

Beth McIntyre
March 31, 2022
April 2, 2024

As Community Professionals, we know that setting clear metrics for success is important not only to your business for advocating for additional resources but to bring transparency to your community as it relates to goals and purpose. Yet, we found in the Community Industry Report, confidence in being able to communicate the business value of the community actually went down slightly from 12% last year to 10% this year.

On March 16, 2022, CMX Connect Hosts Elijah van der Giessen and Tali Vasilevsky, were joined by Ashley Collins, an Analytics and Integrations Product Manager at Bevy to discuss the North Star Framework and how to apply it to bridge the gap between community impact and demonstrating return-on-investment. Watch the recording here!

Eli and Tali run the Chapter & UG Program CMX Connect Chapter. Their events focus specifically on the questions, challenges, and experiences from running a distributed, or community-led events, chapter, or user group program. Read more about Community-Led Events Programs here!

Ok let's get into it!

What is the North Star Framework?

There are various frameworks that community professionals can lean on depending on what they are trying to achieve. At its core, the North Star Framework is a tool that can help community managers improve the way they manage and build their community management process. This involves selecting what are called Input Metrics, a small set of metrics that you believe you can influence through your community offerings, and that will most directly affect the North Star metric.

Think of this as your single metric that speaks to your community health. This is the one metric that matters and feeds into your mid to long-term goals.

Identifying and setting input metrics

It’s important to think big, but start small! Set yourself up for success by identifying a small set of metrics that you believe you can influence through your community offerings and that will most directly affect the North Star Metric.

💡 Pro-tips for setting input metrics:

  • Be able to calculate them quickly – automation is a plus here!
  • Think about the depth & breadth of your metrics
  • Easy to measure and remember! We want to ensure that people outside of your brain understand what you’re measuring
  • Directly link this to your community – we want to make sure your work is synergistic to continuing to provide value to community members!
  • Ensure your inputs feed into your North Star Metric. If it doesn’t – it’s okay! Feel empowered to change your inputs or your North Star if the available data isn’t complimentary!

Examples of Input Metrics from the CMX Connect User Group:

  • Membership (e.g. daily/weekly/monthly active users)
  • # of event attendance
  • # of new registrations
  • Resource activity (e.g. content views)
  • # of RSVPs
  • Community satisfaction (e.g. CSAT/NPS)

Why is a measurement strategy important?

Community professionals know that being able to speak to the business impact of community programs is crucial to attaining internal support and resources, but the benefits span beyond. Although there may be challenges in collating the data, developing the infrastructure and subsequently monitoring it allows for greater insight into what the community may need and communicating business impact.

The Goal of the North Star Metric

Imagine you are addressing your community or going into a stakeholder meeting at your company. You only have 5 minutes to describe your community program and how you primarily measure success. That sole indicator of success should be your North Star Metric – to best show the value of your community to your business (and vice versa!)

🔭 Pro-tips for setting your North Star Metric:

  • State it in a way in which the value is clearly felt
  • It reflects the vision and strategy of your community and company!
  • It’s a leading indicator of success – it reflects the future versus the past results (key delineation between input metrics and your North Star!)
  • It is actionable! You have direct control over the levers to accelerate or maintain this metric
  • Avoid vanity metrics! These are metrics that feel exciting, but are not indicators of community health or business success

Examples of North Star Metrics the attendees came up with at the CMX Connect Event:

  • Platform adoption % (e.g. specific features)
  • # of new user accounts
  • % of members consuming content
  • % of members contributing in the community each month
  • # of reactivated users or groups

North Star Metric Framework Applied!

Here are some real-world examples from CMX about how to apply this framework

CMX Slack Community

For CMX, we recently did a case study on the 1-9-90 Theory of Engagement and how it works within the CMX Slack Community. We can also look at how we are thinking about our North Star Metric through this lens! Here’s an example of how we would fill out our North Star Metric.

Our Input Metrics:

  • Daily Active Users (DAUs)
  • Weekly Active Users (WAUs)
  • Daily members posting messages
  • Total members (available via Dots)
  • New members (available via Dots)
  • Average Replies per Thread (available via Dots)
  • Number of members who replied to a post (available via Dots)

Our North Star Metric:

  • Stickiness (a calculation of DAUs/WAUs)

Mid-Long Term Impact:

  • The ongoing community health of the CMX Community through the Slack channel

Bevy Product

Another example of setting a North Star Metric is from the data team at Bevy by Ashley Collins, a product manager. The way they are measuring the success of the product, and the people who use it:

Input Metrics:

  • Total number of active chapters (hosting an event)
  • Chapter growth (how many pockets of people are you engaging and geographies)
  • Site users (anyone that comes to the community and creates a new profile)
  • Engage site user (has an account, has attended one event)

North Star Metric:

  • Attracting more chapter leaders to host CMX Connect events (aka more Talis and Elis!)

Mid-Long Term Impact:

  • Customer contract renewal rate (more people continuing to use Bevy)

Final Thoughts

It is always important to remember that if your input metrics or North Star are not serving you, your community, or your business goals – it is okay to pivot! Sometimes going through the exercise of seeing how your input metrics and your North Star feed into each other is just as valuable. Setting appropriate goals as it relates to where your community is at and what you have consistent access to is key for success.Ready to get started? Here are a few resources you can leverage to define your North Star Metric today!

Beth McIntyre
Head of Community at Bevy and CMX
March 31, 2022
April 2, 2024

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