5 Best Practices for Online Community Engagement
The most successful communities that offer the highest level of consumer insights are ones that are well planned and where members feel engaged throughout the life of the community. Engagement = Participation = Insight
Thinking about your community, these 5 best practices should be top of mind:
1. Make it Real: Creating a highly engaged community starts with realizing you are in a relationship – with each and every member of your community. Think about what makes a relationship work well: kindness, trust, open communication.
- Break the Ice: Building trust and setting expectations start right at the beginning of the relationship – when you recruit community members, explain what they can expect by being part of your community and what you expect of them. To build trust, make sure you deliver on what you promise and be open and honest when you can, share your business challenges and how the research you are conducting will help.
- When Adding Topics: Be kind by thinking about the topics or surveys you are asking them to complete. Would you ask your friends to participate in a discussion for 3 hours on the topic of paper clips?
- Get Familiar: Finally, recognize that a relationship where you don’t really know the person very well, will require more effort to build that relationship -so blind communities where the sponsor is an unknown is going to be hard to ‘engage’ than a5 branded community. Think “would you like to join a beverage community” vs “would you like to join the Coke community?”. When possible, brand your community so members know their contributions are having an impact in the world.
2. Content is King: Content throughout the community needs to be considered and interesting. Be conversational in everything you present to members – whether it’s a discussion topic, a survey invite, or a survey question. Remember, you are in a relationship.
- The proof is in the wording: The topics for your discussions need to be interesting and catchy. How can you reword to draw in your members to participate in the topic?
- Be present: if your community is branded, there is nothing better than having the Brand Manager participate by personally asking members to probe on specific topics.
- Surveys that add value: For surveys, provide thoughtful surveys that are well crafted and an appropriate length. Ask your friend, father, sister to do your survey, do it yourself! If they hate it or you hate it, so will your community members.
3. Just Right Timing: The frequency of activities, and when you launch activities is important. Too many discussions or surveys will over-burden the participants and they will quit. Too few and they will forget about the community. As a rule of thumb, about 1-2 activities per week is “just right.” Research also shows that a regular cadence is optimal) we are creatures of habit!) so posting new topics or launching new surveys on the same day each week helps members know what to expect. The early part of the week is the best time if possible.
4. The Right Incentive: For QuickCommunities, we’ve built in the incentives for you. Members will receive Toluna points for participating in community discussions and answering surveys. We’ve assumed your QuickCommunity will include an interesting topic, a reasonable length of time for your discussions and light participation. Should your community require extensive participation (e.g. several times a day over several days) and/or be on a ‘less interesting’ topic, then incentives may need to increase.
5. Maximize Platform Features: The Toluna QuickCommunities platform is easy to use and offers excellent qualitative features. Get practice and a demo in before you launch so that you are familiar and ready to use the great moderation features. For tips on moderation and engagement, consult these posts:
- 13 Ways to Create the Most Engaging Topics
- 10 Best Practices When Moderating Online Communities
- QuickCommunities Pre-Launch Engagement
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