Hints & Tips for Successful Online Communities
What makes a successful online community? Here are some tips on how to optimise online community participation which we still find extremely relevant today. Given the current circumstances of COVID-19, online panels and communities are prominent methodologies being utilised, however we have noticed an incline in their popularity for several years now. This methodology continues to provide in-depth and more reflective insights compared to shorter term qualitative research techniques. With extensive experience gained from partnering and managing a number of successful online communities, we believe that there are 2 KEY elements to achieving the most successful results for any community.
1. The All Important Preparation:
At the commencement of the recruitment process prior to launch, a Discussion Guide is essential in order to provide clarity to all involved regarding the commitment required. This should include:
- A realistic description of the scope and time commitment per session, not assuming that every participant will have the same level of technical and online competence
- An up-front schedule of task completion dates/times so that respondents can better plan their commitment to the project
- A clear outline of the specific tasks – especially when there are multiple stages or sections within a single task set
- Full details regarding the subject matter of any photos or videos required
- Information about the incentive to be paid recognising the time commitment expected and any ‘spot’ payments/prizes which may be additionally awarded
- What tools and devices respondents will need in order to successfully participate and access the panel
- Provision of information regarding support available for any technical difficulties
2. The Technology:
It is important to minimize the occurrence of technical difficulties at the communication stage. Anticipating any potential technical issues caused by the interaction between respondents using the platform can achieve this.
Simple issues can easily be avoided by ensuring the correct time zones are recognised. On many occasions respondents have been unable to login to do their tasks because the platform has had an auto lockout on task completion that is set to American time!
Respondents who become frustrated by technical difficulties will often not give objective unbiased feedback and will ultimately drop out. With this in mind, it is vital that the respondents receive practical and clear instructions at the beginning covering:
- How to access the platform including any special requirements
- Any requirement to access or download any additional software; if so, information on file size and compatibility with different devices e.g. PCs, Macs, mobiles and tablets)
- Clear simple instructions on how to upload file, photos and the videos to the platform
- Any Internet/WiFi connections required for platform access and/or file upload and download
- Details of the IT support which will be available during the community
Having this information at the ready has had proven results with great completion rates and happy, engaged respondents.
We have a team dedicated to assisting respondents with instructions and practicing how to use varying online platforms so that we can help you achieve success in your online communities. Our team look forward to discussing your online community requirements with you and sharing our expertise!
For further information please contact:
Shelley Russell – Director – firstname.lastname@example.org