“We’re just not getting good engagement …”
“We’re not seeing the depth from responses anymore …”
“We’re hearing similar things from project to project …”
Does this sound familiar? If you’ve found yourself saying one or more of these things about your online community, you’re not alone. An online community is a long-term commitment for everyone involved, and sometimes, the conversations with members may start to feel monotonous.
The root of this problem is typically one of two things: members don’t feel valued and therefore don’t want to participate, or members get bored when the research questions and activities become repetitive.
Many of our clients have had experiences with communities ― some DIY, some full service, and some that more closely resemble ‘panels’ with large sample and no member-to-member interaction ― and have often run into issues with getting, and keeping, the community members engaged.
Do you have an issue with member engagement? Ask yourself these two questions:
Keeping members engaged is essential to conducting research quickly and getting the in-depth answers you need to solve urgent business problems.
This is true of all qualitative market research. In order for consumers to open up and engage, there needs to be a value exchange that is greater than, “You answer questions, we give you money.” Put yourself in their shoes and think about your own experiences. Aren’t you more willing to participate in something (particularly over the long term) if you feel valued for your contributions?
Here are a few ways to tackle this:
When we find a solution that works for our needs, particularly in qualitative market research, we tend to love it to death. As the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it …” right?
Over time, though, these tried-and-true methodologies tend to go stale, particularly when you’re partnering with the same community members over the span of weeks or months. If you’ve seen a decline in your community participation, and you’ve made efforts to show the members they’re valued, their work is important, and they’re having real impact, then you may need to make some bigger changes.
Quite simply, doing the same types of activities in a community over and over gets boring for members. It’s important to think of different ways to capture the necessary information.
Because online communities are nimble, effective, and accessible market research tools, it can be easy to go on autopilot and assume the community will maintain itself. But like any qualitative research program, it’s important to center the needs of the respondents and foster a community that members want to return to again and again.
The next piece in our online communities series will explore how to create alignment among internal shareholders and maximize your community’s effectiveness. If you’d like to talk more about how you can recalibrate your community, you can contact our qualitative research team.