A fundamental strength of an online insight community is having a standing group of customers ready to provide feedback and ideas as needed. To ensure the quality of ongoing feedback from the insight community, it is critical to maintain strong member engagement. So, how do you keep engagement in your insight community to maintain participation at desired levels?
5 Steps to Maintaining Online Community Engagement
1. Screen in the right members
The first step toward community engagement is selecting individuals who fit the purpose of the community. The best way to do this is to prepare a screener that reflects that purpose. This approach will yield content that is relevant and interesting to members, which is fundamental to their continued participation.
2. Clearly communicate the purpose and expectation
Good upfront understanding of the goals of the insight community and expectations for the members are keys to a successful start. This is a great chance to communicate to members how important their feedback and ideas are to your company. It is also helpful to explain how the platform works, although, ideally, it should be extremely intuitive. In addition, important elements such as confidentiality are communicated through the terms of service.
You also want to set expectations in terms of how often you will be reaching out to members and with what sort of activities. While incentives are not the major driver for member participation, providing a clear idea of incentives early on is a good idea.
3. Be human, establish a community
Remember that the members of the insight community are customers and/or potential customers and should be treated as such. In fact, the relationship is special and should be one of transparency and respect. Don’t think of members as a research study, but as people. A good community manager will be visible and interact with members on a regular basis. As an example, one of the simplest gestures is to start with a ‘meet the moderator’ session.
4. Provide regular and meaningful content
Perhaps the most important way to keep insight community members engaged is by putting forth meaningful activities. If the content of your research activities is not relevant or interesting, members won’t continue to participate in the community. Customers (members) love being a part of the innovation engine and want to feel involved in the company’s initiatives. The more that customers feel “in on” real company projects, the more important they will feel, and the more engaged they will be in the community.
An insight community is different from a focus group in that it is not necessary to compensate members for every action or study. However, it is important to members that they are valued and that their contributions are recognized. Letting community members know that they are appreciated can include a simple gesture such as a thank you email. Keeping members informed of new product launches that they were a part of is exciting and lets members know that their participation is valuable – maybe they even helped name the product! Some insight community platforms include tools such as influence points and leaderboards as well as badges to recognize contributions. Finally, incentives for participating can be large or small and may include anything from online badges or points, gift certificates, or even being able to keep home use products.
My-Take is a greater Boston based insight technology company that can help your company make smarter decisions and market your products and solutions more effectively based on feedback from powerful online insight communities and panels. If you have questions about how to increase engagement in your online insight community, or if you have general questions about insight communities and how they can help your company deliver more value to your customers, click the button below to request a free consultation.