Data: The Secret Ingredient to Successful Online Communities

In the 10th ProCommunity podcast entitled “How to Use Data for Better Online Community Management” Josh Paul interviews Rich Millington, founder of FeverBee and the Pillar Summit, on some of the tactics that have made him a frontrunner in the still-emerging field of community management.  And if you read the title of that podcast, you being the astute and educated reader you are, may have surmised that one of the secret ingredients to Millington’s success has been his knowledge, use, and championship of, DATA!

Of his work helping companies and community managers become the all-stars that lie right under the cusp of glory, Millington had this to say:

“The approach we always recommend is the data-driven approach. We think it’s absolutely of paramount importance to make sure that you are viewing your data and you are getting that information so you can see what really matter. We make sure community managers are tracking their data so they know where they are now, then they track the data so they know where to go next. “

For Millington, data is a yellow brick road that leads to effective work instead of characters missing very important characteristics, green profits instead of an emerald city.

I could not agree more with Millington if I was charmed with an imperio curse and told to do so. Apparently there are a few authors/community managers out there who share my enthusiasm, sans-weird-harry-potter-spell-or-otherwise.

Thomas Kim, Product Manager of Social Technologies as Rio SEO, wrote a piece entitled How Big Data Powers Community Managemet for WOMMA. He stringently believes that as social media grows, and company departments that manage social media strategies and community management demand increasingly heftier shares of the overall budget, the burden of justifying that funding lies with those who work in social. The data is necessary for countless reasons, but especially for providing evidence of the worth of social campaigns that may have few measurable deliverables.

“Discrete and clear objectives that help to define a deliberate strategy for social media, or marketing actions that support it, often begin and end with the collection and interpretation of big data,” says Kim.

This brings me to my closing point, which is DATA NEVER LIES. Except when its tampered with. But hopefully that not being the case, data can offer clarity of purpose and of past performance that no self-evaluation, quarterly review or consumer survey could ever touch. Looking at the data will tell you what topics your community is most receptive to, what time of the day is the best to break news or rekindle a conversation in embers. Data will give you the pulse, blood pressure, and temperature of everything that is your community. And for that, I claim data is not going anywhere, it is merely going to become more important in all aspects of life and business, and considerably so in community management.

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