Reinvigorating a Research Community is Nearly as Important as Launching One
Does it ever seem as if your research community has ‘run its course’? Maybe you’re experiencing lower member response rates, less quality responses, a slowdown of incoming community topic requests from internal stakeholders (or they’ve stopped completely). If any of these sound like a situation you find your organization in, it’s time to reinvigorate your research community.
As such an important asset for enabling your organization to be consumer centric, communities require continual attention and care. But, experiencing a slowdown and community slump is normal, especially the longer the platform has been in place. It is likely signaling that it is time for a “freshen up,” which is typically necessary every so often to keep the community exciting for all involved.
The following provides a few ways that you can work to purposefully enliven your research community.
Refreshening your member engagement strategies
Planning and implementing member engagement strategies is vital to community health. However, just having a plan and “go-to” tactics may not be enough in the long term. Just like in other aspects of their lives, consumers like variety. Interactions with the community are no exception to this. Avoid members getting “bored” and choosing to no longer participate by changing up how you’re interacting with them. For instance, if you’ve been featuring a member spotlight each week, consider changing the information you share about them, or offer opportunities for members to vote on who is the spotlight for the upcoming week. For more inspiration on how to engage members and treat them like stakeholders in your business, see our article in Quirk’s here.
Switching up the type of research you’re doing
Thoughtfully providing new ways to gain insights from your community periodically helps both member and stakeholder engagement. From a member perspective, new and different types of activities and methodologies – whether it’s new experiences for how their interacting and/or new topics for them to provide their perspective – makes it more intriguing to participate. From an internal stakeholders’ perspective, this may open their eyes to new and different ways they can personally tap into the community, thereby starting to regain interest and value.
Bringing in new members
Over time, community members will attrite. Use member refreshes as an opportunity to breathe “new life” into the community. Consider special member engagement strategies timed with member refreshes, providing easy and engaging ways for newer individuals to get to know the community, as well as opportunities for existing and new members to meet each other and form connections – increasing the likelihood of engagement and retention for both existing and new members.
Rebuilding and regaining internal stakeholders
Just as your community members need continual nurturing, your internal stakeholders do too. While ongoing stakeholder engagement can seem like an overwhelming task, it doesn’t have to be. Take the time upfront to develop a roadmap of strategies to engage stakeholders, considering all of the stages you need to cover with them, from initial awareness to consideration of use, to initial engagement, all the way through to the ultimate goal of building community advocates over time. Cater your stakeholder engagement strategies to match where you are in the process and be sure to celebrate and share successes. Socializing community success stories internally can go a long way towards proving credibility as to why they should be leveraged across a myriad of use cases.
All things said, some research communities do have a limited lifespan. If all learning objectives you set out to reach have been accomplished, the community may indeed have run its course. However, carefully consider this and ensure this is the case before giving up on your community. Make sure to dedicate the time to keep members and internal stakeholders engaged in order to continue to fuel insights that enable consumer-centric decision making within, and across, your organization.