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10. Use of analytics

Open Social
Open Social Open Social • 18 May 2018

It’s important to determine realistic goals and track them using appropriate KPIs in your first (and all the following!) year of community building. This helps you gain insight into how your community is developing over time, what issues you need to tackle, and helps you set realistic goals for any stakeholders within your organization (with reports that you’ll present to them).


Pie chart

The role of the community manager

As a community manager (CM) you are partly responsible for the success of your online community. The work of a CM can be separated into several micro tasks: 

Finding and retaining an audience

  • Starting conversations
  • Building relationships

Community Managers also have several macro tasks: 

  • Planning, writing, sourcing, and sharing content
  • Organising and promoting events
  • Reporting to stakeholders
  • Determining the overall strategy for the community



Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can really help you and your stakeholders determine which of these tasks you should focus on. The Buzzing Communities book explains that, depending on the phase of a community, a CM should prioritize different tasks. In a new community, for example, it’s more important to focus on the micro-tasks while a more mature community demands that you focus on macro tasks.



Set goals

You need to start by developing a community strategy. Ask yourself what the goal is for your community: do you want to decimate information or do you want your community to do all the talking for you? Spend some time looking at your target audience: where are they online and what are they doing? What is a realistic benchmark for engagement and traffic in the first year? How fast would you like your community to develop and what is a realistic goal? How do you get there?


Which KPIs are relevant and interesting to you depends on the following: 

  • If you started your community from scratch
  • If you are transferring your community from off- to online
  • If you have a volunteer community
  • If you have  an (existing) intranet within a company

Open Social comes with a standard set of Analytics that can help you track your KPIs each month:

  • Active % of users
  • The total amount of topic or event likes and comments
  • The total amount of post likes and comments
  • Number of comments, posts, and events created by the community
  • Number of comments, posts, and events created by the content manager


Insights into community activity

Insights into community activity versus community management activity is important when determining whether your community has reached critical mass. When most of the activity s driven and fostered by the activities of the community manager, ending this activity will lead to the death of the community. However, if the tipping point has been reached where the community is creating most of its own content, then the community manager can start focusing on macro tasks to further boost activity. 


Google Analytics

Besides the Open Social Analytics tool, Google Analytics is a great way to track user behavior. For example, try tracking the registration process to gain insights into  your content strategy:

  • Is there specific content new users are reading right before they sign up?
  • Are users finishing the registration process or do you lose them in the process? For example, why don’t new users respond to the verification email and how can you make them go through the entire registration process?


Tip: Google offers great basic to advanced training for their analytics tool. You can find it here!