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11 Ways to Get Community Data into Orbit

September 16, 2022
Cole Feldman
Account Executive
11 Ways to Get Community Data into Orbit
Welcome to The Observatory, the community newsletter from Orbit.

Each week we go down rabbit holes so you don't have to. We share tactics, trends and valuable resources we've observed in the world of community building.

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As an Account Executive at Orbit, I speak with dozens of DevRel leaders and community builders each week. I have a front row seat to the opportunities and challenges faced by our industry, and week over week, one big problem seems to surface in every call: community data is spread across dozens of platforms. 

In fact, “Not able to access the data I need” is one of the most common frustrations for community professionals, according to The 2022 Community Industry Report by Bevy. 

The same report says, “There’s a wide range of community platforms that companies use.” The most popular forums and messaging platforms, per the report, are Slack, Facebook, Discord, LinkedIn, Khoros, Salesforce, and Discourse. 

And that doesn’t include the ever-growing list of other social media, events, video, and blog platforms.

This tracks with the results from our own Constellation Report last year, wherein we noted that the future of community is distributed

No wonder it’s a common frustration for community professionals that they’re not able to access the data they need. Community is happening everywhere, but it’s impossible for community professionals to be everywhere at once.

Or, is it? 

One of my favorite things about Orbit is that it enables you to pull in your community data from any platform and view it all in one place. Many of our customers describe us as “a single pane of glass” for their communities, and it all starts with getting data into the platform. 

Then, once you have all your community data flowing into Orbit, you can consistently engage with community members, automate repetitive manual tasks, and even quantify the value of your community with reports.

But first, how do you get all the data in? 

Your 11 options for importing community data into Orbit

Here are 11 different ways to get your DevRel and community data into Orbit!

1. Orbit’s first-party integrations

We’ve built a library of plug-and-play integrations that are completely self-serve. Just connect the source and watch the data begin flowing into Orbit.

Some of our most popular integrations are:

Click here to view a complete list of all the integrations. 

Even though the Orbit library of integrations is extensive, there still might be some sources of data for which Orbit has yet to build an integration. 

As you’ll see below, we’ve covered every edge case. 

2. Orbit API

The Orbit API allows you to send data to your Orbit workspace from the comfort of your own programs, apps, and tools. 

This is the most powerful and most flexible option, but it will also require the most technical expertise. 

Here are some capabilities of the Orbit API:

  • Add new members by GitHub handle, Twitter handle, Discourse username, email address, or even from custom sources like your own product.
  • Create activities that get added to members.
  • Add content, notes, and tags to members.

And here are some common use cases:

  • Add product milestones to Orbit, allowing you to see product and community data in a single place (common events include account creation, docs views, and conversion to paid plans).
  • Bulk import historical data from your data warehouse or a similar source.
  • Pull data out of Orbit for further query in tools like BigQuery or Snowflake (yes, this post is about getting data in to Orbit, but I thought I’d include this idea for folks interested in the API).

Click here to read the Orbit API docs.

3. Zapier

Zapier is a no-code workflow automation tool, and Orbit maintains a first-party Zapier app. Here’s how it works.

Zapier lets you define “triggers” from connected apps, then pass those straight into Orbit using our Zapier app’s “actions.”

For example, you can create activities in Orbit from new entries in Typeform. The Trigger is a new entry in Typeform, and the Action is to Create activity in Orbit.

Here are some of the most popular Orbit workflows with Zapier:

Click here to search on Zapier for all the workflows you can set up with Orbit. 

4. n8n

n8n is another workflow automation tool, like Zapier, but is open source and offers the technical user a lot more flexibility and opportunities for customization. 

These are some reasons that users prefer n8n: 

  • More flexibility: n8n allows you to add custom JavaScript code with the function nodes
  • Price: n8n has a free open-source version and reasonably priced hosted version

On the other hand, there are still some reasons to prefer Zapier: 

  • Ease of use: Zapier is no-code
  • More options: Zapier has more integrations

If you opt for n8n, here’s the documentation for Orbit’s n8n node. 

5. Make

Make (formerly known as “Integromat”) is yet another workflow automation tool. 

This is what Make says about how they’re different: “Traditional no-code integration and automation platforms are linear and non-intuitive. Make allows you to visually create, build, and automate workflows that are limited only by your imagination.”

Here’s the documentation for Make’s Orbit integrations. 

6. is another no- or low-code automation tool, but it’s more robust and typically better suited for enterprises.

They have many native integrations and a robust suite of tools to build workflows to connect to any other service with an API. offers robust conditionals, logic, and sub-tasks that differentiate it from other automation platforms. doesn’t yet support a ready-to-use Orbit connection, but you can still connect to Orbit using the various advanced tools—script connector, webhook trigger, HTTP client, and more. 

7. Workato

Workato is another automation tool that, like, is better suited for enterprises.

Workato doesn’t yet support a ready-to-use Orbit connection, but you can still connect to Orbit using the HTTP tools or you can use the SDK to build your own custom connector. 

8. Census

There’s a relatively new development in the never-ending game of sending data back and forth between every app imaginable; it’s called “reverse ETL.”

“ETL” stands for “extract, transform, and load.” This is the standard process for taking data from a source, structuring it, and then sending it to a data warehouse.

Reverse ETL sends data in the opposite direction. It sends data from a data warehouse to a business application, like Orbit. 

Companies store a lot of data in their data warehouses, so a process for moving that data into other apps can be very powerful.

Census is a reverse ETL tool popular among Orbit customers. 

Here’s the documentation for how to use Census with Orbit. 

9. Hightouch

Hightouch is another reverse ETL tool, like Census. 

There’s an ongoing debate about which tool is faster. Census published a “benchmark series.” And Hightouch responded with this

Ultimately, the two tools seem comparable, and you can use either one to send data from your warehouse to Orbit. 

Here’s the documentation for how to use Hightouch with Orbit.

10. Add members and activities manually one-by-one

All the options we’ve discussed so far have involved automatically sending data from other platforms to Orbit, but what if you want to manually add a one-off member or a one-off activity to your workspace? 

For example, maybe you’re at a conference and you had an in-person conversation with someone. There’s no platform that captures that interaction, but you can still manually add that interaction to your Orbit workspace as a custom activity. 

Here’s how to manually add a member to your Orbit workspace.

Here’s how to manually add an activity to your Orbit workspace. 

11. CSV Import

This is similar to the manual approach, but instead of adding members and activities one-by-one, you can add them in bulk.

For example, let’s say you talked to a bunch of people at a conference, so now you have a spreadsheet of the 50 different people you talked to at a conference. 

You can import members and activities into Orbit via a CSV file (up to 5 MB per file).

Here’s how to use Orbit’s CSV Import tool.

Before you go, a lesson on how the Orbit data model works.

Hopefully this has been a helpful overview of the various ways to get data flowing into your Orbit workspace. Before we wrap up, I’d like to leave you with two more thoughts about data in Orbit. 

First, Orbit is a community growth platform that allows you to quantify the value of your community, engage with members, and automate repetitive manual community tasks. 

Orbit is not a data warehouse, so we suggest that you only pipe in the data you need to achieve those community goals. Otherwise, your workspace will quickly become crowded and confusing. Not to mention, you’ll give yourself a headache trying to figure out how to cram the sum total of all your company’s data into Orbit. 

Second, a note about our data model: Orbit is about members and activities. Everything you send to Orbit should either be about creating a new community member or adding an activity to an existing community member. 

If you need any help getting your community data into Orbit, send us an email at [email protected]

If you’d like a demo, send me an email at [email protected].

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