Identifying Your Community Demographics

4 minute read

April 15, 2016

Identifying Your Community Demographics

Before we even delve into how to get this info, let’s start with the why. Why does this information even matter to you as an owner of a community?

The truth is, having this information will allow you to make better informed choices. If you know your community is younger, you will probably want to spend time marketing through Instagram or SnapChat.

 

Age and Social Networks
 

If your community is geared towards women,  Pinterest is a network you cannot ignore. According to Pew Research Center, women are 3 times more likely than men to use Pinterest.

Coming back to your own hosted community, though, how do you get this info? It would be good to know what ages and genders matter. Not only so you can ensure your content is hitting its targets, but also to make sure you are engaging your community on the proper platforms.

Let’s look at some ways you can get demographic info on your visitors.

Quantcast
Quantcast is a free service that lets you measure the demographic data of your visitors in the following categories: Gender, Age, Ethnicity, Children in Household, Household Income and Education Level. To get this info you’ll need to sign up and add some Javascript to your site. It is focused mostly on the US market.

This is a preferred solution over Alexa, as you are directly measuring while they still rely on toolbars and other opaque methods to get this data.

Facebook
Facebbook-InsightsDid you know Facebook is one of the largest analytics companies? Maybe you realize you are being tracked by Facebook, but did you know as an owner of a domain you can have access to data about your website? Facebook offers a service called Domain Insights. What does it offer? It shows all referral traffic to your domain from Facebook, including when people link to your site in their Facebook status messages, clicks on social plugins such as the Like or Share button, and much more. The only requirement is for you to add some small Javascript to your site and “claim your domain”.

Facebook also has Facebook Analytics for Apps, which will also provide you info on logins to using Facebook and more. This is a much more complex and technical tool, so you would need developer support for this.

If you want to know about how people use your Facebook page, you can access Page Insights. It is only available to you once you have over 30 likes to your page.

The downside of Facebook Analytics, though, is you require massive amounts of traffic and likes, and it really doesn’t help you with your own hosted community. It still may be useful to infer your audience or interest in your niche.

Google

As you would expect from one of the biggest players in Analytics, they offer rich demographic detail to all users of Google Analytics. The data is taken from your search and ad preferences. Check them out here. Google may get some of your interests wrong (especially on your work computer), but it will likely get your age and gender right (especially if you don’t share your computer). If you are curious, you can learn how they capture this data here.

Demo_-_Google_Analytics

I am sure you are impressed and you want to get this info into your Google Analytics. Thankfully, it’s relatively simple. Head over to the section called “Demographics” in your Reporting section and click enable. Make sure you read all the points, for example how you’ll need to update your privacy policy and click “enable”. Within a short period (less than 24 hours), your website will be getting tons of great demographic insights. If you’d like to learn more on how to use them, you can check out our Google Analytics Guide for Community Managers.

Survey

Unlike the other methods, this one takes the most work, but should be the most accurate. If you do an annual survey, just ask. If you want to make it a bit more frictionless, just ask people when they sign up to your community in your registration form.

As you can see, there are different ways to go about capturing this data. Just remember, if you go for a solution which involves Javascript tags, it’s important that you advise your visitors in your privacy policy (even if it’s anonymous). In most cases, you will already be doing this, but I would remiss not to mention it. Happy tracking!

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Adrian Speyer

Written by Adrian Speyer

Adrian Speyer is the Head of Community and Lead Evangelist for Vanilla by Higher Logic. Besides spending many years in digital marketing, Adrian has been building communities of all sizes for over 20 years.

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