Online community research platforms can be a rich source of gathering valuable insight into a specific target market. However, to leverage them as a tool, you need to know and understand what they are and how they work. This article lets you in on the 4 facts you should know about online community research.
Let’s get started.
Competent multidisciplinary teams work best
Online research is no walk in the park. You need to be intentional about how you approach for you to pluck its low-hanging fruits. Setting up a functional and effective online community needs a strategy. First, you’ll need to have a robust team led by a strategic director steering the efforts. The director is charged with designing and executing the community strategy. This is the person that directs the online community towards the achievement of the objectives.
You also need a community manager in charge of keeping engagement. This professional also ensures the smooth running of activities through proactive onboarding. The community manager works to improve and sustain a conducive environment for the participation of everyone in the community. Next in the line is a content producer; that creates engaging and interesting content to keep the online community alive.
An IT developer or manager is another important person you need on the team. He/she will handle all the technical aspects of the community thanks to their great IT chops. And finally, you’ll need a project manager to liaise with the relevant stakeholders and ensure that the community is on track towards the achievement of the objectives.
Investing in the relevant technology is a big plus
It’s normal to be tempted to build the entire online community team in-house. Many business people tend to think that work can only be successfully done by people they can see and monitor. However, that’s not usually the case.
When it comes to online community teams, investing in the right technology could have a significant multiplier on your efforts. There are many providers of intuitive and effective platforms that are relevant to the objectives your community is setting out to achieve.
When you use a third-party API, you can automate many tasks and complex processes while saving time and plenty of resources. You can then convert the time into tailoring the platform to the taste and convenience of the target audience. Your role will be simplified to that of ensuring that the aesthetics of the community are enticing enough to warrant the participation of the members.
Working with a third-party API provider is important because users find your platform complex to navigate, they’ll abandon it. The third-party provider will ensure that the platform is intuitive and that its palette is enticing so that the users keep coming back to access and experience the platform.
Community engagement is key to success
It’s a fact that technology plays a significant role in making your platform appealing and usable. However, that by itself can’t amount to anything if you don’t keep the engagement going in the community. That’s where the community manager comes in to draw the participants out of their shells. You only get to reap the full benefits of having the online community research if the team is talking and fully engaging with each other. As your community manager engages with the audience, the following questions should help him steer the conversation in the right direction.
- Do all the members on the platform feel valued?
- What’s the expectation of the team in terms of tone of voice?
- What should the members come for more content after they join?
- Are aware of the use of the data you’re gathering from them?
- What should make them live their work and join the community?
The community manager should work out these questions so the members feel motivated and valued. This will make it easy for them to participate and volunteer the required information without much struggle.
Quality over quantity
Inviting the right participants to your platform will have a big impact on the kind of engagement you get out of the team. Instead of sending out sweeping announcements for people to sign, consider sending out invitations.
That will enable you to filter out digitally reclusive people who would rather spend time offline. In effect, you’ll end up with a team that’s enthusiastic to respond thus cutting down on the wait time. However, even among this number, not everybody will readily provide the information. You’re looking at 1% active content contributors and 9% of people who interact with the content that’s been posted. With 10% participation, your community will be successful.
Online community research teams don’t have to be complicated altogether. The secret is letting a team of enthusiastic professionals steer the group and outsourcing the technical aspects to a third-party API provider. With those many moving parts coordinating and working in harmony, you’ll obtain useful information and achieve the other objectives you may have for your group.