Having explored the woes of online community engagement and falling member engagement in details, we are now in a state to build a roadmap to diagnose the issue. Let’s deep dive into it.
Usually, the level of participation declines rapidly after the first contribution to a community.
There are three big reasons for this.
1) They aren’t curious about the topic. They might participate when they have to (for work or to resolve a frustration), but they aren’t motivated to learn more about the topic beyond this level.
2) They don’t enjoy participating in the community. They don’t feel a part of something special when they do participate in the community. They don’t feel they have much control or ownership. They don’t feel it’s a part of their peer group where people like and respect them.
3) They don’t enjoy helping others. They don’t get much joy from helping others. This occurs most often when they don’t receive gratitude for contributions or don’t feel much of a connection to other members. It also arises when they are answering the same questions repeatedly within the community.
All of this ties back to the three root causes that you can work on. These are:
1) Limited sense of competence. If members don’t feel their abilities are growing, have opportunities to demonstrate their abilities, nor have any control over the site, their motivation is sharply reduced.
2) Limited sense of autonomy. If members don’t feel they can participate the way they like, in a way that aligns with their values, and give input into the direction of the community, they are less likely to enjoy participating there.
3) Limited sense of relatedness. In short, they don’t feel liked and respected by other members. There is no larger sense of community forming around the topic that gives people their social identity.
The key here is to gradually increase this sense of competence, autonomy, and relatedness by designing specific journeys you take members through. There is no shortage of tactics here.
Ultimately, to sustain long-term, regular, participation the community ultimately has to offer more than just solutions to problems. It has to offer members the chance to feel really smart, to feel they can finally behave as best aligns with their values, and the opportunity to build strong relationships.
Always Diagnose The Problem First
Before you move on to testing any tactics, properly diagnose the problem. Once you diagnose the problem the solutions usually present themselves.