Not All Online Community Engagement Is Created Equal

Filed Under: Communities & Panels


Cailun Gangi

Research Director, Communities & Panels

Years of experience hosting online long-term communities helped us at C+R to develop a set of best practices that maximize the value clients receive. As a part of these best practices, we leverage a set of engagement tools to drive excitement and maintain quality participation. Engagement outside of paid research activities is a pivotal part of an online community and often is the differentiating aspect to our clients. While these engagement tools allow us to stay better connected with our community members, they also help us to carve out additional insights and findings; however, not all of our engagement tools work for every community. Each community we host is personalized for our clients’ unique consumers; therefore we adjust our perspective and tone so that we can achieve an honest relationship with each community member and, more importantly, continue this relationship over time. Over the years, we’ve identified a couple instances where engagement efforts differ for various types of online communities. Here, we look at how we’ve tailored two communities to achieve each client’s specific research needs:

Community #1: Rethinking Engagement

  • The Set-Up
    • We have managed a particular community for the past 6 years and its larger sample size presents a challenge in making sure every member feels valued.
  • The Issue
    • Due to the length and size of this community, we found that our standard engagement tools weren’t driving as much participation as they once had.
  • The Engagement Adjustment/Solution
    • While our engagement tools allowed us to learn more about specific behaviors, we wanted to understand these members’ enthusiasm on a deeper, more personal level. So, we crafted a couple of picture contests to get a better idea of what certain fandom or events looked like. Members uploaded pictures of their fan-gear or decorations, and our platform allowed members to “like” which picture they thought should win. After a couple rounds of semi-finals and finals, members were checking back regularly to see who won.
  • The Result
    • We saw an uptick in participation across other engagement activities within the community, and members have reached out wondering when the next contest will take place.

Community #2: Meeting Them Half Way

  • The Set-Up
    • We hosted a yearlong community with teens in the hopes of learning more about what it’s like to be a teen in 2016, including information about their struggles, victories, hopes and dreams.
  • The Issue
    • We learned that our traditional methods of connecting with teens wasn’t driving as much excitement as we anticipated.
  • The Engagement Adjustment/Solution
    • Presumably, teens would be the perfect audience for engaging online. However, due to their heightened online behaviors and all of the different content competing for their attention, we had to think of an alternate way to boost engagement and drive excitement to our online destination. So, we adapted our mindsets to rethink how we might resonate with these tech savvy teens. Instead of sending emails, we began creating memes and pinging them via Instagram and Snapchat.

While these communities utilized different and unique engagement strategies, both options were successful at boosting and setting an engagement pattern for members. As we continue to think about long-term communities and how to best leverage this methodology, engagement must always remain fresh, innovative and cater to what will work best for your consumer.

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