Data for Data’s Sake

As a community manager, I always feel that I have a general sense of my community’s health. I spend the majority of my day within my community – posting, responding and moderating. Because of that, I can tell someone when people are overall happy or overall pissed to the point of rebellion and/or mass rioting.

Feelings don’t get management’s attention, though. And they definitely don’t get you money to increase budget. Data does.

But data can be tricky when it comes to measuring social. We are going through mass growth when it comes to data that is available today for analysis. Between Facebook Insights and listening platforms like Radian6 and Sysomos, it can be hard to know what numbers to pay attention to and what really doesn’t matter at all.

(Warning: This post does not give you answers to that. Sorry, dudes.)

I’m here to warn you not to make the crucial error that so many community managers are making: sharing data for data’s sake.

It’s happened to me and it will happen to you: A manager wants you to make a presentation on how successful your community is. You’ve been telling them about how engagement is up and now they want to see it. You collect all the numbers, like reach, virality and total fans. You even pull some pretty little graphs into your presentation to show demograhics. You’re going to look like a star…right?


You’re going to look like a rookie who is just shoving numbers onto a slide for the hell of it.

No one wants data that is meaningless.What you and they want are actionable social insights. What are social insights? Social data you can do something with (love, Captain Obvious).  

I want to present my management team with numbers I know I can improve upon – with or without a larger budget. For a community manager, these are numbers are related to interactions.

Another key part of social insights is presenting numbers you fully understand. If you don’t know why a certain number is larger than the previous month, don’t present it. Even if it looks big, pretty and successful. Someone will ask you what it means. Trust me…

So let’s come together and start sharing more meaningful, actionable social insights. What is the most meaningful, actionable insight you use?


What makes a successful community?

I went to a great presentation last week on digital metrics for one of my brands. The numbers and stats were informative and useful, but when it came time to discuss Facebook I got to thinking – can these numbers really define the success of my page?Answer? Oh, hell no! Especially when you start talking bad about my page.People were saying we fell short in terms of total fans because the number didn’t match the “benchmark” set by other brands.


I don’t think you can set benchmarks in social media. The industry still hasn’t been able to define any standards in terms of measurement analytics, so how can we say what numbers define success?

For example, a Facebook fan page may have garnered over two million fans by offering a coupon. But what if they don’t post regular content? And what if, when they do, it gets no response? Is that a success because their fan base is still over two million?

I say a big resounding no. And I think anyone who has spent any time managing a brand page would agree.

Now back to my “your Facebook page sucks” meeting. As the conversation continued, people started throwing out ideas on how to “gain more fans.” No one seemed to want to point out that, even though small in comparison to other brands, our page has some of the most dedicated, active fans out there. They respond to posts, click links and talk directly to the brand and each other without any prompting.

They are quality fans who love the product  and want to feel connected to it. They are dedicated to our community.

We’ve built this dedication by showing them the love and giving them our dedication in return for theirs. Posting regular content, responding to fan questions, sharing inside news and handing out exclusive deals (when budget permits, of course).

But not all numbers in social media are bad. Just the ones that say I’m not doing my job well. Obvi.

Let’s change gears a bit and take a look at those quality fans in more detail by analyzing some more specific numbers, like how they respond to (what else?) our content. What do our fans engage with? Which means what do they ‘Like’? What do they comment on? And what links do they click? Those are fan conversions.

If we look at these numbers, we get a better idea of how we can not only keep our existing fans happy, but how we can get more of them. And this will make our page even more successful.

Overall, surface numbers aren’t enough. As community managers, we have to dive deeper into the analytics and create definitions of success ourselves.