How much do you know about your audience? I mean, how much do you really know? Any stats package will tell you about how many pageviews you have on your community, but will it tell you how old your core audience is? If you have an audience willing to provide the data, then consider yourself lucky. In most instances, though, acquiring this information can be expensive.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.