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How to Document Online Community Growth

It’s a good bet that you’re going to have to keep records of online community milestones. Unless you have a good memory and a knack for numbers, that is.

Keeping track of community data may involve using a spreadsheet program. Logging all your community’s activities and actions will help you determine how your community is growing and what areas need work.

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Using all the tools available, keep track of all community activity to see whether your brand is getting a good return on investment (ROI). These tools not only help you gauge engagement and campaigns, but show you how many people are clicking your links, retweeting your tweets, and mentioning your keywords on Twitter.

Track more than visits to your online site

Keep track of the following areas each month and log growth:

  • Traffic to your brand’s blog

  • Blog comments

  • Blog subscribers through RSS feeds, Facebook, and other sources

  • Traffic to your brand’s website via community pages

  • Facebook membership

  • Comments on Facebook pages

  • Twitter followers

  • Responses to Twitter questions, retweets, and comments

  • Membership numbers for forum and e-mail groups

  • Response to community promotions

  • Sales as a result of community promotions

Ideally, you’ll notice growth each month as you log in higher numbers. Some periods, however, are traditionally slow growth periods. For example, you may experience less traffic during the winter holiday season, on holiday weekends, and during the summer.

Many brands tend to run major promotions during times of slow growth to make up for the lack of visits.

Doing a month-by-month comparison is a good way to discover growth areas and the areas that need a little work. You can pinpoint growth further by noting weekly stats as well. Soon, you’ll see where to focus your efforts. If you’re not receiving as many comments as you feel that you should be, for example, spend more time engaging your members.

You can determine traffic numbers by using a stats program such as Google Analytics. Google Analytics or FeedBurner (another Google endeavor) can help you keep track of all your RSS feeds.

How to track Facebook likes

Your Facebook Insights page can help you determine how many people are liking your brand on Facebook and how many of those likes are leading to action or participation.

To check your Facebook numbers, click the Insights link to the right of the Facebook page. This link takes you to a page that provides graphs and statistics for your Facebook page. Use the numbers and charts on this page to determine how well you’re achieving your Facebook goals, and log the results on your spreadsheet.

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How to track Twitter mentions

You can use a variety of tools to determine how well Twitter is working for you. Klout.com notes growth and influence to specific accounts but you should use it as a number reference only, not as a measure of overall influence. Watching your score go up and down can help indicate how well you’re engaging with your members.

TweetStats.com graphs your Twitter statistics. Alternatively, you can use a paid subscription-based service, such as Radian6.com, to measure your social-media campaigns.

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