20 August 2015
4 tips to ensuring top notch online community participation
We recruit (and manage) A LOT of
online communities here at The Human Network and we’ve learned some
crucial techniques over the years about how to recruit the right people for
your project and equally importantly, keep them participating from start to
Sherise is one of our resident experts in online community recruitment and is the keeper of our enormous checklist detailing how we go about recruiting the people who best fit your online community brief.
While the list starts with the obvious items such as ‘how many respondents are required?’ and ‘how much is the incentive?’ etc etc, Sherise has kindly agreed to share four crucial points that are often overlooked in the brief, but are absolutely essential in ensuring great participation and completion:
Tip #1: What is the anticipated time commitment on each day?
While it might seem simple, we find that respondents are always concerned about how long it’s going to take them to complete the online community so it’s important to detail this from the outset. The time commitment should also state whether there is a certain time of the day they need to log on etc so that they can gauge whether they can fit the commitment into their schedule.
Tip #2: Will respondents be required to take photos or videos?
While we assume that in this day and age most people have access to a phone/video, this is not always the case (or if they do, they may not know how to use them!) so it can save a lot of mid-project trauma to ensure that respondents can provide all the required material from the outset.
We also find that respondents can understandably be a bit cautious about who they may need to take photos/videos of – especially if it’s their family. Being fully briefed at the time of recruitment about what the topics of the photos and videos may be ensure that we don’t have someone start the online community only to drop off halfway through because they don’t have the capability or interest in providing this content.
Tip #3: What will the process be if respondents experience any technical difficulty?
The first truth of online communities is that there will always be technical difficulties (whether they be yours or the participant’s!) Therefore, it’s essential to provide respondents with a contact person or troubleshooting checklist so that if they run into any difficulties, they can be addressed quickly to ensure that the project keeps progressing. Respondents tend to drop off quickly if their technical difficulties are not being dealt with in a timely manner.
Tip #4: Provide a draft discussion guide or an outline of exactly what respondents will be asked to do.
Often we will be asked by potential respondents about the type of questions or activities that they may be asked to do. We find that it’s very useful to be able to talk through with them the type of questions that may be asked and also for us to identify any requests that may be problematic. Being able to discuss tricky issues at the beginning means that respondents are better prepared for them and willing to participate with every requirement. I particularly discuss creative tasks like collages and any tasks that involve them leaving home – eg a store visit, photo and video content etc.
So these are our four ‘often overlooked’ project points that will facilitate not only excellent recruitment, but high levels of project completion. But of course there are more – so if you’re interested in discussing online communities with us, please get in touch!