Everyone wishes for online community engagement. But gradually, this becomes quite a challenge. With time, interests wane off and people become less active than the initial days. Looking at the problem statement in a structured manner helps to properly diagnose why engagement decreased.
Much like any application domain, diagnosing the problems is the key to improvement. The pedestal of diagnosing the problem seeps in through introspection and careful analysis. A top-level clarity is needed to understand the plausible reasons why people aren’t visiting your community.
Audience Doesn’t Visit Your Community
This is the most redundant problem. Based on priority, suggested by leading Community Expert, Richard Millington, the issues can be broken down into 4 prioritized groups:
- Lack Of Awareness
No one can drop into your community if they don’t know about its existence. This can be taken care of by asking or surveying a random sample of the total audience. Asking them to name the communities they have heard of followed by a note of how many mention your community does the trick here.
- Low-Value Perception
This is the crunch of the pie. It means that people don’t have a high opinion of the value they can derive from your community – an indication of low motivation.
Enquire people about the challenges they face and check if this matches the discussions and activities taking place in the community today. Keeping your online community engagement centered around trending topics makes it much more relevant.
This is the toughest part to achieve. Even if some people understand the goal of your community, they may not be confident in you to deliver it. This is primarily the reason why people don’t visit a community the second time. This can be diagnosed by asking members about the value they got or expected to get from the community versus what they would ideally want to get from it.
- Competitor Groups
The world is bustling with communities and you are probably not the only one there. Other communities might just be doing something better than you in captivating the crowd.
Analyzing and figuring out a unique niche you can dominate is the key here. This can also be diagnosed by asking your audience what other communities’ members participate in today.
Before we go further, if you’re looking for a platform to enhance your online community engagement then give LikeMinds a try.
Understanding Community Engagement Woes
There are broadly a few reasons why people make their first contribution to a community. For instance, enquiring to solve a problem or a feature, learning, increasing status, trying to fit into the group, or exploring with a group of like-minded friends are the chief ones amongst them.
This can be reverse-engineered to ponder about what makes some people simply stay, but never contribute? This boils down to:
- Lack Of Insight
This happens when members refrain from asking a genuine question in the community engagement online out of the fear of losing credibility or are simply shy.
- Lack Of Expertise
This happens when the members are simply underconfident or ill-trained to contribute to the community. They are probably unable to create witty content or don’t possess the know-how of how to do so.
- Lack Of Belief
A lot many members fear that their contributions or posts in a community may not be appreciated as nicely as they would want and would therefore not increase their social status. This is one of the biggest reasons for the motivational loss and stems from many reasons, including the communities’ average engagement scenes.
- Fear Of Nothing
In many communities, there is no danger of exclusion due to inactivity. This simply results in the fact that members don’t show urgency.
- Disinterested Members
This arises when members of the community are simply not interested enough in the topic to indulge in conversations with other community members. This is an issue that is persistent while taking into consideration long-term participation. A community manager should interview and survey the people who visit to see what stops them from online community engagement.
Alternatively, different ideas can be implemented in stages. Based on the outputs, more such ideas can be planned. They may be flash events, quizzes, AMA sessions, etc. It’s usually best to work from the top down.
Reasons For Decline In Member Participation
Usually, the level of participation declines rapidly after the first contribution to a community. There are three big reasons for this:
- They Aren’t Curious About The Topic
Members 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.
- They Don’t Enjoy Participating In The Community
Members don’t feel a part of something special when they do participate in the online community engagement. They don’t feel they have much control or ownership.
- They Don’t Enjoy Helping Others
Members 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.
All of this ties back to the three root causes that you can work on. These are:
- Limited Sense Of Competence
If members don’t feel the growth of their abilities, have opportunities to demonstrate their abilities, nor have any control over the site, their motivation is sharply reduced.
- 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.
- 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.
Before you move on to testing any tactics, properly diagnose the problem. Once you diagnose the problem the solutions usually present themselves. Ultimately, to sustain long-term and regular participation, the community has to offer more than just solutions to problems.
It has to offer members the chance to feel smart, to feel they can finally behave as best aligns with their values, and the opportunity to build strong relationships.
Different Types Of Online Communities
If you try to explore and redefine communities, you will get to find mainly five types of communities that are presenting themselves regularly. These types are distinct from one another, yet overlap naturally in context and approach.
As you learn more about these communities, try to think about your own life and identify the various communities you currently belong to or communities you are aware of and how they fit into these five definitions.
- Interest – Communities of people who share the same interest or passion.
- Action – Communities of people trying to bring about change.
- Place – Communities of people brought together by geographic boundaries.
- Practice – Communities of people in the same profession or undertake the same activities.
- Circumstance – Communities of people brought together by external events/situations.
Today we will talk about the fourth type, i.e., community of practice – a skilled community.
What Is A Skill Community?
A skilled community is a group of people who share a skill they practice and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. An example of this can be a group of marketers who practice marketing strategies & upskill together.
Now being an admin/moderator of a skilled community, you need to understand what your members are expecting from you and your community. It can be anything, like, valuable content, networking with new people, social learning, etc.
After finding this, you can start with a few member-oriented activities to bring out a wave of online community engagement following a lot of patience and consistency in executing these activities. They help members in creating a habit of participation and will keep growing the online community engagement higher & higher.
Ways To Keep A Skill Community “Super-Engaged”
- Create A Welcoming Environment
A welcoming environment will encourage new members right from day one to participate in community engagement online. Be sure to always welcome new members, and encourage old members to participate on an ongoing basis.
Make sure community members know they’re in a good space to ask their questions, share their successes and give honest feedback to you. Consistent maintenance of the group requires carefully considering how you or your brand communicates with the members.
- Curate The Right Content
Many community members connect through the content you share. It could be a relevant blog, funny GIF, or music video. As a community admin/moderator, you must know how to curate the right content. Pay attention to what types of content receive the highest online community engagement and also what members are sharing.
- Host Offline And Online Events
You can create a sense of belonging by introducing members to a group of like-minded people in the community. And once your community is established, it’s worth hosting an online or offline event that encourages community members to network with each other.
To host offline events, you can examine the geographic details of community members and host a meetup at a relevant location where members can come, meet and get to know each other in person.
Don’t stop here. Go for Live AMA sessions, webinars, and discussion sessions to engage your online members that are living in different cities.
- Define A Mentor Program
Encouraging members to engage in a virtual conversation rather than acting as a silent person comes with a few barriers. It can be the fear associated with contributing to the conversation. It can be tough for new members to find their voice in a sea of virtual identities.
Establishing a mentor program matches new members with old members. Tasking old members with engaging new members is a great way to build a strong online connection.
This includes tagging members in conversations, being there as a resource for private questions, and accompanying members to in-person events.
- Find Out What’s Important To Each Member
Finally, it’s critical to figure out why each member is part of your community. Each member will have a different reason. The key is finding out what their motivation is and then nurturing it. Adding rewards for each level can help you in some way to take them far with you.
These are some key parameters you can keep in mind while designing an online community engagement strategy for your community and its members. You can tweak them based on your requirements, your community, member persona, or simply based on the values they are seeking.
As you start running a community, you will get to learn so many things in the journey itself. Good Luck! Check out LikeMinds for more.