Research

5 simple ways to keep people in your online community coming back for more

5 simple ways to keep people in your online community coming back for more

You‰’ve worked hard at recruiting for your community and you‰’ve finally got the people you wanted. You‰’re over the first hurdle but your work isn‰’t done just yet‰ – you‰’ve got to keep people in your community engaged.

Poor community engagement often leads to the much dreaded churn‰ – which means people leaving your community permanently. This contrasts with good engagement, which improves response rates and engenders more robust answers.

If you want people to stick to your insight community and to continue to provide their feedback, engagement is important; here‰’s how to do it painlessly:

  1. Give people feedback.

People in your community like to feel that their answers matter. When they first join, they‰’ll often say getting a chance to have their say was key to their decision to do so. Yet, some communities never bother to communicate what people in the community have told them.

Value the time people have taken to give you their responses and let them know how it impacts your business decisions. At Vision Critical, we encourage our customers to circulate newsletters with survey results along with some detail on how it will potentially be used by the wider business.

Value people’s time in your community‰ – let them know how their input impacts business decisions. (CLICK TO TWEET)

You don‰’t have to limit yourself to newsletters either. Having your community website include a widget of ‰’what you‰’ve told us so far‰’, or even detailing past results in survey introductions have shown to be consistently effective.

  1. Keep your surveys varied and interesting.

It‰’s a fact that some research surveys are going to be more interesting than others‰ – it all depends on the business problem at the time. However, a key benefit of an insight community is that it gives you the opportunity to establish an on-going relationship with your members. That means you can plan your next batch of activities well in advance.

Take a long-term view; if you know one month is going to be filled with heavy-going topics, consider peppering the next month with activities that people will find more engaging and interesting.

For example, after a month of quite niche research topics, one of our customers ran a short quiz on their community, which gave people an overall score and rank at the end. Responses were high and after we included these quiz results in the newsletter, member feedback was even more positive.

  1. See your surveys through a member‰’s eyes.

Whenever you design a survey, discussion guide or any other piece of activity for your community, always ask yourself: how would I feel completing this activity?

Good member experience often hinges on technical aspects. For example, is the survey you‰’ve programmed visual enough? Rows and columns of seemingly never ending statements will likely bore people, which could lead to them giving inaccurate responses or abandoning the survey. Making your questions as visually appealing as possible encourages a higher quality response.

It‰’s also important to check the length of your survey. If your survey is over 15 minutes, consider omitting some of the questions‰ – asking questions you never really needed the answers to works to the detriment of both parties.

  1. Make them feel as if they belong.

When people see a message from your community in their inbox, you want them to feel excited. It‰’s easier to make them feel this way if they genuinely identify with your community.

We often recommend establishing a conversational tone. For instance, if your community is comprised of 18 to 24 year old sport enthusiasts, your tone of voice is going to be essential when engaging them.

Once you‰’ve developed a likeable style, ensure your future communications are consistent with it. You can even let people know who else is on the community, which will strengthen their sense of togetherness.

Establish a conversational tone in your community, and then use it consistently. (CLICK TO TWEET)

  1. Keep ‰’em guessing.

Asking your questions in innovative ways is crucial to member engagement, especially if your community has been running for a long time. The only limit to how you design activities for your members is your creativity.

The only limit to how you design activities for your community is your creativity. (CLICK TO TWEET)

One of our customers recently set about designing a discussion guide for a forum around one of its least popular products. The company feared low interest and response rates. However, when we framed the discussion as a way for people to ‰’co-create‰’ a better product, we saw a far greater response than anticipated.

Another company asked people to upload videos of themselves to a discussion forum explaining why they enjoyed being part of the community. After a few hours of people professing shyness, the community manager (yours truly) uploaded a talking head video to encourage involvement. Responses were improved and both the company and the people in the community were happy with the haul of videos.

So, remember: an engaged community is a happy community‰ – one where responses are robust and the insight generated are of the highest quality.

Your turn

How do you keep people in your community coming back for more? Let‰’s hear them! Please share your tips with us below.



  • Anthony Santillo

    I believe you covered all the key elements to keep people in your online community coming back for more. If I were to add one more I would say to ensure you have the right incentive and/or reward program in place to encourage members to continue to participate and help minimize attrition

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