Your online community is not as enticing as other things on the web
Dancing Korean babies, Tony Abbott satire, cat memes. Your members are only ever a click away from saying adios to your research discussion, in favour for something like this.
Unlike traditional research, where we have a captive audience, online research demands more from us to keep members even vaguely amused.
How is the humble researcher going to compete with the likes of Buzzfeed?
With a lot imagination and a little bit of elbow grease. There are dozens of tactics, activities and best practice approaches you can apply to get those members interested, without compromising the integrity of your research. Here are some of them…
On the research side of things
The whole reason your community exists is because of research – so let’s see how we can make this as appealing as we can to members.
Don’t bombard them with bullet point questions
An effective community is a conversational community. We may as well do a survey if we’re going to be ‘talking’ in bullet points. It’s common to see online research discussions looking like this:
- Have you seen this ad before today?
- Where did you see it?
- What do you think of it?
- What do you think is the main message?
- Which brand do you think its for?
Very few have the time of day or brain power to answer a dozen of your research questions in one go (especially when this has just landed in their inbox). Instead, make your discussions chattier, and break them up over several days so as to not overwhelm your members.
Plan your topics
Before you kick off, plan the first few months of your community. If you’ve got three advertising topics, don’t put these three weeks in a row. Mix it up. If there’s something topical (like Christmas shopping), make sure you cover that during the time it’s happening in members’ lives. That way, they get to talk about things that matter to them in that moment, and (as a bonus) you don’t have to rely on their recall.
On the engagement side of things
As they say, all work and no play. Here’s some extra activities for your communities that aren’t research focused, but work to keep your members around for longer.
Members love to learn about products from other members. Setting up a space in your community for an activity like this gives members a reason to visit besides answering a research discussion. This builds relationships between members, you get a sticky beak at the products they are buying and, in the case of ‘Review Tube’ it encourages them to film and upload the review – so you get some output that’s not just text based.
It’s natural for us to want to see the results of our hard work, so feeding back to members how their efforts have helped is really motivating for them. You don’t have to do this weekly – monthly or quarterly works just fine. But just be sure that the results you are sharing are ok with your client.
The ‘Would I do this?’ test
If I answer ‘no’ to that question, I’m going to bore the brains out of my members. It’s usually back to the drawing board to see if I can make the task more exciting. This is probably one of the best measures of whether your activity will work or not.
On that note, let me leave you with some web-inspiration: