Learn all about community analytics and the community operations managers who wield them: what metrics to track and how to select goals that set you, the community, and your organization up for success.
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Community teams that achieve the best results all have one thing in common: They use data to identify opportunities to accelerate growth, increase efficiency, and tie their work to key business outcomes. These teams also recognize that using data to drive action and continuous improvement requires unique skills. That’s why community operations managers often serve as data-driven co-captains alongside community leaders to help steer the ship based on insights from analytics.
To help you better understand the nuances of community analytics and community operations, we’ve put together this guide to answer questions such as:
To chat analytics with community operations leaders and other pros, join us in the Uncommon Community Slack where 1,500+ community and DevRel professionals exchange learnings and best practices.
Community analytics are the insights you unlock by using data to measure the success of your community growth strategy. The term community analytics may also refer to the process of extracting these insights—the analysis itself—which can either be performed manually by a human or automatically with the help of a tool.
Metrics, on the other hand, are the data points you continuously collect for analysis. In the section below, we will take a closer look at the primary categories of community metrics and what they measure.
Example: Let’s say your team measures the number of messages sent in Slack and then uses a tool (like Common Room) to surface trending topics and member sentiment related to those messages. In this case, the total volume of Slack messages would be the metric, while the insight into trending topics and sentiment would be the analytics derived from that data.
Community analytics are important because they help community leaders understand who their members are and what types of community-building activities are most effective in delivering value and driving growth. In other words, they give you the actionable information that is required to best serve and build your community.
When the question, “What is the bottom line impact of our community?” inevitably arises, community analytics hold the key to providing a tangible answer that will satisfy stakeholders. Community analytics are vital to measuring and informing community-led growth, which is the process of leveraging community to drive business outcomes (e.g., increasing customer acquisition, boosting engagement, and improving retention).
Check out our guide to community analytics for more information about the what, why, and how of community analytics and how they can help you understand the health and efficacy of your community.
Metrics and analytics are critical to understanding the success of your community, including if members are receiving value, whether your community is engaged and growing, and what outcomes it’s driving for the organization.
In general, community metrics fall under two overarching categories: community health and business impact. Each tells you different things and can be further broken down into subcategories based on what they are measuring.
Community health metrics measure the effectiveness of your activities and programming to help you understand if they’re delivering value that drives engagement and growth. They include:
Business impact metrics connect community-building efforts to company outcomes to prove the ROI of community. These measures include:
For additional details, read our blog on Metrics to use for community analytics.
Honing in on the right metrics for your community based on its maturity is critical for both setting you up for success in your current phase as well as your ability to grow into the next phase.
Therefore, consider your current spot on the community maturity curve when selecting the metrics that will flow into your community analytics. Here are a few examples of what that could look like:
Note that while these metrics by phase will help guide which primary goals you select for your program, you’ll likely want to monitor metrics across phases. For example, you and your program will always be well-served by being able to tie your community initiatives to business outcomes. If you can do it earlier, don't wait for the third phase!
For a deeper dive into the community maturity curve and top metrics to track in each phase, check out the blog Phases of community growth.
No matter where you are on the community maturity curve, your criteria for evaluating success should ladder up to the overall goals of the organization. Think about your desired outcomes and how analytics and reporting can help you determine next steps while measuring progress toward the results you wish to see.
With that in mind, every community program needs to choose specific key performance indicators (KPIs) that will be used to gauge success. KPIs help to answer the question, “Are we moving closer to achieving the most important objectives of our team and the business as a whole?”
For instance, if a team wanted to improve outcomes for their ABM initiatives they might set a goal such as, “increase community members from target organizations by 5% this quarter.” It’s true measuring that specific of a KPI would be a significant manual lift—however, there are tools to automate analytics and surface intelligent insights would make it much easier to track and prove that community is an effective go-to-market growth strategy.
Here are a few real-world examples of how leading organizations have set community goals and KPIs based on their desired outcomes:
Still not quite sure what your community analytics are telling you? Head over here for more details on how to analyze the relationship between metrics, analytics, and company goals.
Community operations is an essential function of modern community teams that typically encompasses the analytics and other data-driven activities discussed above. Whether a company has a dedicated community operations manager or community ops falls under the purview of a community manager, the high-level responsibilities of the role typically include:
Community operations is a primarily “back of house” discipline that focuses on setting the community team up for success. At the same time, community operations is closely related to community management, which means it includes “front of house” responsibilities that are more directly related to team-to-member and member-to-member interactions.
Let’s take a look at the front-of-house vs. back-of-house responsibilities of community operations:
As you can see, community operations is vital to running the community efficiently, keeping the team in sync with other departments, and proving the value of community across the entire business.
Dive into our Guide to community operations for more information on this emerging discipline and how it slots into an overarching community program.
A community operations manager makes sure that the community team is investing its time and resources in the right places in order to achieve goals. These might be internal goals, such as reducing the amount of time spent on member onboarding, or external goals, such as identifying opportunities for content and event collaboration with other organizations.
When a community operations manager (or community manager wearing their community operations hat) is thinking about the “how” of achieving program goals, they will need to assemble a community roadmap including:
It’s helpful to present this information in a visual, easy-to-understand way to ensure the community roadmap can be quickly digested by stakeholders across departments (e.g., a Gantt chart). Here is an example of a comprehensible roadmap put together by our friends and community leaders Erica Kuhl and Brian Oblinger.
Once implementation of a community roadmap is underway, the community operations manager will begin to measure progress, use analytics to surface insights, and recommend course-correcting actions. This involves data from a wide variety of sources, including communication apps, social media, email campaigns, input from other teams (like sales, marketing, customer success), and more.
The role of the community operations manager is also pivotal in tracking community impact on top-line business goals. These involve pure business impact metrics, as mentioned above, but can also entail supporting health metrics that business results are predicated on. Some of the business goals that community operations managers help track against include:
Read this article on community manager responsibilities to learn more about what these folks do and how they interface with the community and broader team.
If you are considering hiving a dedicated community operations manager (or team!), there are a few things you should bear in mind regarding skills to look for and how you conduct the hiring process.
When evaluating candidates for your community operations, consider both hard skills and soft skills. Looks for:
Once you’ve documented the skill requirements for your community operations team, it’s time to consider how you will go about the hiring process. While the exact details will be up to you, we have found the following three-pronged approach to work well when hiring for community operations:
For more actionable tips you can use to hire for these roles, read How to build a community operations team.
Community teams and operations managers often acknowledge that analytics help them make more informed and strategic decisions—but, at the same time, they struggle with the fact that collecting, tracking, and analyzing community metrics manually or with a fragmented toolset can be a Herculean task.
That’s why many community-led organizations at varying levels of community maturity have adopted Common Room to accelerate their growth journey. Our AI- and ML-powered platform enables multidimensional data analysis and comprehensive reporting that surfaces key insights across community engagement, customer, and product data.
Complete with automation capabilities that handle the more time-consuming aspect of community management, Common Room has everything you need to drive success across the entire customer journey for increased engagement, greater product adoption, and stronger revenue results.
These features include: