Why Community Managers need analytics (even if they think they don’t)

Community Manager and Analytics

Although we know that measuring ROI is important, not everyone is convinced. Take a look at some quotes from some articles from the past year or so:

“If you simply must crunch some numbers, there are a few data points you can look at …  But the bottom line remains: don’t get too hung up on the numbers.”

Social Media ROI: It Doesn’t Really Matter (Really!), July 2012

“We’ll never be able to quantify every lead, every brand-awareness lightbulb moment, everything social does for us.”

Why Social Media can’t be measured – and why that’s OK, November 2012

” … you have this previously unmeasured darknet that’s delivering 56.5 percent of people to individual stories. This is not a niche phenomenon! It’s more than 2.5x Facebook’s impact on the site. “

Dark Social: We Have The Whole History of the Web Wrong, October 2012

If I were an aspiring community manager, what I would I take away from these articles is:

  • Tracking analytics is silly. You don’t need to do that!
  • What we can measure (data) is insignificant compared to what we can’t measure (“relationships”)
  • If you care about analytics (which you shouldn’t), you must be an unfeeling robot

But, after learning how many different ways there are to approach analytics (just take a look at this list – and this barely scratches the surface), not using analytics seems lazy. So is it?


Perhaps analytics seem silly in the short term. It’s hard to see patterns and rhythms in the community in the first weeks or even months.

Over time, however, analytics can tell you some important things. While you shouldn’t get “hung up” on the numbers on the day-to-day, they should play a big part in how you create strategy.

If you are tracking analytics but not getting much from them, perhaps it’s time to take a look and see if the analytics are the right one for your strategy.


Not tracking anything because you can’t track everything is like eating an extremely unhealthy diet because you’re predisposed to heart disease. You’re probably going to die from the disease, so why try?

Maybe that’s morbid, but the point remains: because you can’t control one factor doesn’t mean it’s pointless to control what you can. If that were true, there wouldn’t be community managers.

Although community growth may happen through so-called “dark” channels, it’s foolish not to get as much as you can from blogs, social, website, and email channels. Optimizing and experimentation with controlled channels is what makes the job so challenging and fun.


Paying attention to analytics and data does not make you a robot – it makes you a good community manager.

Analytics, as well as relationship building, is an important. Yes, it’s necessary to be human, but it’s also important to have those human interactions guided strategically by data.


Looking at analytics will always give you something more than what you put in. It will tell you if you’re doing something right, if you’re doing something wrong, or – if you don’t get any useful data – it will tell you how to get better at measuring ROI.

It’s always good to be reflective. Always consider what analytics you couldn’t capture, such as:

  • What have I changed?
  • What alternatives didn’t I implement?
  • Do I know the success of those alternatives?
  • Am I measuring the right analytics?
  • Are there other tools I can use?
  • Do I need more data?
  • Do I need to change my approach for better results?
  • Do I need diversify my approach for better data?

Are you an analytics naysayer? If so, why? If not, what convinced you to start tracking analytics? Do you find them more beneficial or cumbersome?

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