More than a Number: Using Analytics to Improve Your Community Building Efforts

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community building analytics

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You’re all about people, all about community. What fills your heart and fuels your spirit is building relationships and helping others through the content and connections you build via your blog. You’re not only living your life according to the statistics.

Data is for scientists and researchers, but they’re not for you. Hard numbers may work in the world of finance, but they don’t work in your world. At least, that’s how it feels, right?

But what if we told you that when it comes to building community, data, statistics, and hard numbers can actually be your best friend? Best of all, you don’t have to be a mathematician or a software developer to capitalize on the power of data analytics.

Community Building: Finding Your Tribe

Building strong communities, both on and offline, is all about bringing like minded people together. That means that you need to know who your people are and where you can find them. Well, as they say, “there’s an app for that,” or, at the very least, there’s a data analytics tool for that.

Data analytics tools can help you monitor the content distribution of your various marketing platforms, helping to ensure that your messaging strategies reach the people who need them most. They can also help you identify who your target audience is, what platforms and channels they use, and even how they are using and responding to your own platforms.

This is the heart of community-building — it’s all about understanding what your community needs and bringing people together to meet those needs.

Want proof? Consider the use of data analytics to help build highly productive online learning communities, constructing cohesive networks of people linked by shared values, experiences, and goals, and supporting them not only in their academic endeavors but also as they make the often difficult transition from student to professional.

Building Your Community Culture

Using data analytics to understand who your target audience is and where to find them is just the beginning, though. Perhaps the biggest benefit to this data, in fact, is how helpful it is in building the kind of community culture you and your target audience need.

Analytics enable you to build a strong, cohesive culture by identifying who belongs in your ideal community, as well as who doesn’t.

Best of all, because data analytics also allow you to better understand not only who your target audience is, but also what they do, what they respond to, and what they are interested in, you will be perfectly positioned to build your community culture around this information.

This will enable you to focus on those issues that your target audience values and to prohibit behaviors that don’t line up with your mission or your community’s values.

Let’s Get Social

The use of data analytics on social media platforms has, of course, been the source of some controversy. Facebook, in particular, has been taken to task in recent years for selling its users’ data for commercial purposes. However, social media data isn’t in itself nefarious.

In fact, as analytics tools evolve and advance, it’s increasingly possible to use these technologies to gather vital information on social media users without compromising their privacy. And if you’re interested in using analytics to build your community, both online and offline, then social media should be a prime source for the data you need.

With social media analytics, you have the power to receive real-time feedback on your target audience. You can see they respond to particular topics, issues, or events in real-time.

This can be crucial not only to building a sense of relationship and trust within your community, but it can also help you to identify prospective problems and divisions before they can evolve to tear your community apart.

For example, your data may reveal that your target demographic expresses great interest in one topic, but little or no interest in another. Understanding what inspires your target audience and what turns them off will help you build messaging strategies and community brands that attract new members and retain established ones.

Again, it is all about that cohesive, positive culture that brings individuals together for a shared purpose, a similar goal, a mutual interest, or a common vision.

Not Just One and Done

Building a strong online community, in particular, takes time, patience, and persistence. Your work isn’t finished once your various platforms have gone live and your message has been shared. In fact, that often means that the work is just beginning.

One of the most important uses of analytics in community-building is in the form of the content audit. Content audits allow you to routinely evaluate your sites for content you may have overlooked or simply forgotten about.

This helps ensure your sites remain relevant, up-to-date, and tailor-made for your community’s specific needs and that specific moment. This will also show your members that you are invested in growing with them, in developing and cultivating the community for excellence in care and camaraderie now and well into the future.

Take It to the Next Level

If by now you’re all on board with the power of analytics to help your community grow and thrive, then you might think about taking things to the next level.

For example, there are a number of IT certifications you can complete, including an array of great online programs, to up your analytics game, or to expand your other technical skills. Best of all, most of these are offered at relatively low cost and can be completed at your own pace.

The Takeaway

Data analytics may seem far removed from the world of community-building. After all, it can be hard at first glance to see what numbers and people really have in common.

If you look a little closer, though, you can see the enormous potential of analytics to help you build your community and make it great.

The most significant power of analytics, after all, is in helping you to truly know, to truly understand, your people. This includes tools for content distribution, which can help you figure out who your target audience is and where to find them.

You can also unleash the incredible power of social media to not only learn who your target audience is and what they do, but also what they need and care about. Best of all, social media analytics allow you to gather this data in real-time.

Thus, you can immediately assess how they are responding to real events, both on and offline, and tailor your content accordingly. This ensures that your community, its brand, and its message are relevant, up-to-date, and meaningful, growing and evolving as its members do.

Finally, as you explore the vast benefits of analytics for your community, you may even decide to take a deep dive into the technological world. This could include pursuing IT certifications in a range of areas, from analytics to security and beyond.

As immense as the possibilities are, however, the purpose is the same: to craft the kind of culture that best reflects your community and attracts, supports, and cares for the people belonging to it.

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