My take on Circle’s Community Benchmark Report 2024

My key takeaways from and my reactions on Circle’s Community Benchmark Report 2024, including things that make sense, and things that surprised me.

My key takeaways from and my reactions to Circle’s Community Benchmark Report 2024

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  1. Platinum communities have superior engagement, but on the surface, their businesses look a lot like typical communities.
    75% have 500 or fewer members, nearly 60% don’t have any full-time help, and half of them use three or fewer tools to manage their community.

    Makes sense: The time of members is precious. So cut the bells and whistles, and focus only on the core proposition of the community.
  2. Platinum creators don’t spend tons of money on new member acquisition.
    Half of them don’t spend any money on it at all. However, they do use significantly more acquisition channels than standard creators, including social media, email, and YouTube.

    Surprise: I would have guessed that top creators would focus on channels that work for them, without spreading themselves too thin. This must be relevant for creators who are looking to ‘grow’ their community, where they try and scale other channels of user acquisition.
  3. Platinum creators prioritize onboarding and get it done in half the time.
    How? They follow onboarding best practices such as implementing comprehensive welcome tours, sharing community guidelines, and using conversation starters, all of which help them onboard new members twice as fast as standard creators.

    Makes sense: Having learned about the onboarding experiences of people using apps like SuperHuman, it makes sense to focus on onboarding as it helps people to get off a flying start, stick around for longer, and follow community guidelines more sincerely.
  4. Platinum creators owe a big part of their success to consistently hosting events.
    100% of Platinum creators host events. On top of that, they organize more of every type of event compared to standard creators, like group discussions, orientation sessions, and Q&As.

    Makes sense: I genuinely believe “out of sight, out of mind”. So it makes sense for community creators to “show face” and be available and accessible to their community.

    Surprise: Like #2, I would have thought extreme focus on the type of events would have made more sense. But the data and the report tells us otherwise.
  5. Not only do Platinum creators host more events, they also get more people to attend.
    59% of Platinum communities see a 50%+ attendance rate, compared to just 33% of standard communities. They achieve this by throwing events their members ask for, attracting the right attendees, and sending plenty of reminders.

    Makes sense: A more driven community is in it to win together. They focus on getting results and ask for things they want to help them succeed. Responding to the community’s ask and giving them exactly what they ask for ensures an engaged community. It is also easier to make a smaller, focused community more engaged and make them feel that their needs are heard.

    Surprise: It is surprising how much effort good community creators are looking to put on working ‘on’ the community than ‘in’ the community.
  6. Platinum creators prioritize retention much more than standard creators.
    Platinum creators are twice as likely as standard creators to cite retention as their top priority for 2024. In contrast, 41% of standard creators say member retention is their lowest priority.

    Makes sense: In business, it is often said that serving an existing customer is more profitable than getting a new customer through the door.

    Surprise: The lesson is too basic for standard community creators to miss, and it is a little surprising that the lesson has not been drilled into their heads. Perhaps standard community creators need to be part of a community lessons community.
  7. Platinum creators experiment more with re-engagement tactics.
    A third of creators (Platinum and Standard) don’t have a consistent process for bringing back disengaged members, but Platinums are more likely to experiment with re-engagement tactics.

    Makes sense: Re-engagement initiatives provide an opportunity to collect feedback from disengaged members, to then make the overall community experience better.

    Surprise: I can imagine mature and more experienced community creators are close to the saturation point of extracting value and contributions from members. I would have imagined that they use those signals to improve their targeting, and their marketing initiatives to attract the right audience.
  8. What Platinum creators don’t tend to do is offer discounts.
    This is the one re-engagement tactic that Platinum creators are less likely to try. Rather than lower the perceived value of their community, they lead with the value they provide, and price their offerings accordingly.

    Makes sense: Platinum creators are creators who have figured out the community game. They know what to focus on, while also ensuring that the signaling from discounting doesn’t diminish the community’s perceived value.
  9. Platinum creators monetize their communities more.
    Only 7% of Platinum communities are free, compared to 21% of standard ones. The remaining 93% of Platinum communities charge for access or offer the community as an add-on to another purchase.

    Surprise: I would have assumed that creators monetize individual events, delayed access to recordings, ebooks, lessons, etc. as a means to monetize from a paying group of people more.
  10. Finally (and perhaps most importantly) Platinum creators do not have more money, employees, or hours in the day than standard creators.
    What they do have is a profound understanding of their members that they pair with creative, smart tactics. This knowledge is free and accessible to everyone, empowering all creators to join their Platinum peers in the top 10%.

    Makes sense and is a surprise: I would have imagined that Platinum creators have cracked the code for running successful communities. I have heard of people hiring virtual assistants for a fraction of the price, but I guess they don’t count as employees. By hiring VAs, they are also able to do more with less, as compared to standard creators.