Here are 6 guidelines to help you maximise the output of your online research community …
1. Be specific and targeted. Communities that do not have a clear purpose or are so broad that members don’t share interests and needs, fail because they lack passion, purpose and involvement. Tightly define the community as much as possible.
2. Prepare. 6, 8 or 12 weeks may seem like plenty of time to cover the topic areas, but those weeks slip away very quickly. Make sure key issues are outlined before the community starts so that no time is wasted once the community warms up.
3. Leave room for flexibility. Don’t prepare too much. Unexpected events and issues inevitably occur during the course of the community and it’s an ideal time to explore them. Allow for some spontaneity.
4. Login Daily. Share the results internally and encourage your users to devote time to reading comments regularly. It’s a golden opportunity to eaves drop on consumer conversations as they occur with very little prompting. The insights can be reported on one page, but those who log in to the community on a regular basis and read comments themselves, first hand, will inevitably have a richer, deeper appreciation and understanding of the outputs when they are reported.
5. Think outside the norm. Be open to using the community in different ways to traditional market research – for idea generation, sending members on tasks/missions etc.
6. Talk directly to them. Where relevant, show the community you are listening by posting up blogs (in branded communities), acknowledge their opinions, show them how you’ll use the information, thank them for participation etc. It humanises the organisation.
What has your experience been?