Community, Content, Marketing | San Francisco

Why Numbers Are Your Most Powerful Tool as a Community Manager

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Gut instinct is important. If a community manager can't go with his or her gut, they just might be in the wrong business. In many companies the community manager jumps into the front line with the objective to go, raise awareness, engage and grow the community. Many times responsibilities do not include providing detailed analytics for activities - and in many cases I agree that there is a time period where it's trial and error, back-to-back events, and an intense period of awareness. But what happens next?

One of our values at Twilio is "Start with Why" - Starting by understanding why customers care. Challenge assumptions with data. This drives our culture and how we approach everything we do from product to marketing to support. I've been thinking about numbers a lot lately, and as I'm upgrading our community manager metrics at Twilio I wanted to share my process. This is part one of a two part piece about community manager metrics but before we dive into those metrics I've defined for community management, let's start with why you should care. More specifically, why these numbers are your most powerful tool as a community manager.

You have to. OK we're starting off a bit blunt but here's what I'm getting at: your company is moving from early startup awareness phase to demand and lead generation phase thus, you are asked to begin contributing to the funnel. Trust me, this is a really good thing because it forces you to stretch and form your analytical side, and we all know most community managers don't do this enough.

You want that promotion. You've put in hard work on the front lines and now you'd like to expand your team as you see how much value community work is doing. Maybeyou want to build out your team and gradually move upwards into a more strategic position. Hard numbers are going to show the team your value add to the bottom line. The team knows you're important, but with numbers you prove just how much impact you have to the marketing funnel. Side note, in general it's best to support any argument or team ask with data - it will drive your points home.

It is so important for Content. Most likely you manage your company's content strategy, at least the blog, handful of customer stories and maybe you've kicked off a new webinar series - am I close yet? You need to understand and implement SEO strategy for your content - then you need to measure the heck out of it. Knowing the effectiveness of your content, how your audience reacts to it and where it's getting the most traction is more than just good community management tactics. It is informed strategic planning and will help guide you to make better and more effective content.

It is better for your community. Psst, this one is most important - Real data will help you be a better community manager. How can you make informed decisions about your community if you don't know what they are doing and why they are doing it? How can you grow your community base if you don't know how they are interacting with you online, in your content and within your product? You can't, you have to dig deep and figure out what your users are doing in order to give them a better experience and then give that better experience to your new users.

To be able to ask the right questions. The more data diving you do, the more questions you will come up with. Try to always start with why from the perspective of your user and think about what data will drive action or a change of action in what you do. Listen to the questions that your colleagues ask - in fact, why don't you walk over to your sales or product or support team and ask them what they would want to know about your community - the answers might surprise and inspire you.

Now that we're all fired up and ready to get analytical, go read up on the resources above. I'll follow up next week with the specific numbers and data that I look at in my day-to-day as a community manager and some awesome things my Twilio colleagues implement too.  For now, here's a few resources to kickstart your new journey into analytics:

The Kiss Metrics Marketing Blog

Search Engine Land

SEOMoz Blog

Check your local workshops - Groups like Girl Develop It, Parisoma in San Francisco, or SkillShare for online classes

Know your tools - Sprout Social, Bit.ly, Awesome Wordpress plugins like Jetpack and more. Check the analytics page on any social tool you're using, it's probably chalk full of goodies.

Google Analytics - learn it, love it, use it

We're actually hosting an upcoming SF Community Manager Meetup covering SEO best practices and optimization tactics - join us!