Dashboard

Definition

In this context, dashboards are tools used by marketers and community managers to understand the performance of the community using a single platform. Dashboards enable users to schedule, publish, view, and reply to posts. They can also be used to generate analytics reports and for social listening.

Some dashboards come pre-built, while others are customizable, giving users the ability to display all and only the information most relevant to them or their organization.

For companies with an online presence, dashboards can be an excellent way to quickly observe and review data trends. However, a cluttered dashboard can be unhelpful and overwhelming, especially for new team members who are familiar with the platform. 

In the following sections, we’ll look at what a dashboard is and identify what information should be included to make your dashboard as effective as possible. 

What is a dashboard?

A dashboard refers to a tool that community managers and marketing teams use to understand the performance of an organization’s community. In an online community setting, dashboards are versatile and allow companies to perform actions ranging from scheduling and communicating with community members to providing analytical reports on member activity. 

Since there is such versatility in how a dashboard can be used, it’s important to identify what type of information you want it to display. If you create one without a clear goal in mind, it’s easy for your dashboard to become cluttered and difficult to quickly interpret. 

Depending on the dashboard your organization uses, you may notice an option to customize the information that is populated. Changing the data on your dashboard will allow you to focus on what’s really important and discard irrelevant stats. 

Why are dashboards important?

Dashboards are important for a variety of reasons. For example, they provide community managers and marketers with a quick snapshot of how a community is performing. Within seconds staff members can tell whether community engagement is improving or has slowed within the past month. 

They’re also important because they can provide community managers with an easy way to manage ongoing conversations. Depending on your company’s tool, some will allow you to review posts and respond directly from the dashboard. 

Are there different types of dashboards?

Just like there are several community platforms, there are also different types of dashboards. Most commonly, dashboards are broken into three categories—operational, analytical, and strategic. Each serves a different purpose, and organizations should consider what they expect from their dashboard before deciding on one. 

To help you identify the best type of dashboard for your company, here’s a closer look at each option.  

Operational dashboards

Operational dashboards are often the most commonly used dashboard type. Since many organizations value real-time data on how their daily operations are performing, creating a dashboard that tracks key operational-based KPIs makes sense. 

Companies that need a snapshot of everything in the organization at any given moment would benefit from implementing an operational dashboard. 

Strategic dashboards

For organizations that are focused on the future and want to track how the company is doing against monthly, quarterly, and annual goals, strategic dashboards tend to be the best option. 

Since strategic dashboards are usually tied to a campaign or specific strategy, the type of KPIs they track will revolve around monitoring success for the overall goal. If your organization wants a high-level view of how the company is performing, then you’ll need to explore a hybrid or operational dashboard. 

Analytical dashboards

Suppose your organization and leadership team wants to include more tables, graphs, and data visualizations to represent the current trends in the community. In that case, an analytical dashboard is often the best choice. 

These dashboards display valuable metrics and measurements in easy-to-understand charts where company leadership can review the data and quickly make business decisions. 

What should you include in your dashboard?

The best answer to what you should include in your dashboard is—not everything. 

You want your dashboard to tell a story when a team member reviews it. You’ll want to incorporate essential information and data into your dashboard and leave out any excessive stats that don’t align with your company goals. 

For example, suppose your organization focuses on improving the average amount of time a member spends engaging with your community. In that instance, you’ll want to track metrics that support that goal. 

Along with your goal-specific metrics, you may also want to consider tracking core metrics such as the number of community members, visitors to your community, and the number of pages viewed during a session. 

What is the five-second dashboard test?

When it comes to how your dashboard is laid out and the information you’re reporting on it, you want to make sure that it all makes sense. The last thing you want to do is spend hours creating a dashboard that is challenging to interpret. One way to ensure team members understand the dashboard is with the five-second test. 

In the five-second test, team members are asked to look at the dashboard for five seconds and report on the insights they gained while reviewing the information. If they can relay the significant trends and information displayed, your dashboard is set up properly. 

However, should they struggle to communicate what they saw on the dashboard, it can be a good indicator that either your information is too complex or the layout makes it difficult to quickly identify trends. 

Remember, the main job of your dashboard is to quickly relay vital business information to your team.