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About the community life cycle

Hi guys,

our community is almost 5 years old by now and I want to hear your thoughts around our situation and maybe your recommendation.

During these years we have grown quite good if you look how much we´ve got new members and traffic. But if you look how much member visits we have or how many posts we have those numbers haven´t increased at all.

And I keep wonder why, and how it is possible anyways.

I think if you have more traffic and more members you should have more member visits, I think that´s the obvious logic right? If you look our first months we had x amount of member visits and if you look our numbers today we have same amount of member visits, even the number of visits and members has multiplied.

I have only one theory:

We have two "groups" or two "types" of members:

  1. Group of active members and this group is stable it doesn´t increase or decrease during the time
  2. Group of members who comes for some reason, post once maybe twice and they won´t come back anymore. This group is stable, I mean how many members this group has. But, those aren´t same members all the time

What do you think about my theory and do you think there's also other possible theories?

What to do?

We have to

  • clear our community´s scope and tell it to our visitors and members clearly (they know what´s the community is all about, what they can do)
  • keep promoting our community, constantly (to increase our traffic and get people to the "funnel")
  • renew our gamification (reasons to come back)
  • renew our community´s look and feel, improve usability (easy and fun to use, fun to "play"

Is there anything else you can recommend for us?

I really appreciate all of your thoughts.

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Re: About the community life cycle

Hi @Enidin ,

Those are all fair assumptions! Is your community open or closed? Is it a support community? It will be a little difficult for outsiders to propose different theories without digging into the data or knowing more about your community. With that said, it's not unusual at all after a few years to see engagement and registrations plateau, especially if your community is open to browse, as more knowledge and solutions have been created over time. 

It's always a good idea to review your gamification strategy, promotion tactics and engagement programs to ensure they are still incentivizing members to sign up, return and continue contributing. A few thoughts/questions:

 

  • Are you using the Value Analytics survey? If yes, are there any insights you can gather from answers provided?
  • Do you have a superuser program? Are you running any other rewards and recognition programs?
  • Poll your community to find out what they'd like to see improved and what could drive them to further engage.
  • Are you using default system emails or have you customized them?
  • Do you use premium gamification badges?
  • Sometimes changing the UI isn't necessary, and creating new engaging content and programs to drive desired behavior can make a large difference.
  • If you do decide to revamp the UI, before diving in, set some specific goals and objectives (in your case it could be simplifying the registration process, adding call to actions, creating a better onboarding experience, facilitating access to unanswered posts, etc.) which should drive the changes being made, and help measure their impact post refresh. 

 

Hope this helps!

Julie Hamel
Director of User Advocacy @ Dataiku
Also previously known as JulieH
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Re: About the community life cycle


@JulieHamel wrote:

Is your community open or closed? Is it a support community?


Our community is open, basically (p2p) support community. That´s the way people see our community but besides that we have builded "digital life community", around the different "digital topics" but people mostly participate in support topics.


@JulieHamel wrote:
Are you using the Value Analytics survey? If yes, are there any insights you can gather from answers provided?

Yes. No, mostly the feedback is related to our products, "please fix this". Feedback are not for the community and/or how we can improve the community for you. Even we ask it btw.


@JulieHamel wrote:
Do you have a superuser program? Are you running any other rewards and recognition programs?

Yes we have superuser program. No, we don´t have any other programs at the moment, only basic gamification like ranks and badges.


@JulieHamel wrote:
Poll your community to find out what they'd like to see improved and what could drive them to further engage.

We have done it and we got few ideas, one biggest idea is implemented couple of months ago. I don´t see impacts yet.


@JulieHamel wrote:
Are you using default system emails or have you customized them?

I have customised them and I update them frequently to promote community content, competitions etc.


@JulieHamel wrote:
Do you use premium gamification badges?

Hmm, what do you mean with the premium?


@JulieHamel wrote:
Sometimes changing the UI isn't necessary, and creating new engaging content and programs to drive desired behavior can make a large difference.

We have created (hopefully) engaging content during these years and I can see that is one reason why we have multiplied our traffic (because of SEO). But what we haven´t done is several programs to drive desired behaviour and that´s the reason I want to renew our gamification totally.

@JulieHamel wrote:
If you do decide to revamp the UI, before diving in, set some specific goals and objectives (in your case it could be simplifying the registration process, adding call to actions, creating a better onboarding experience, facilitating access to unanswered posts, etc.) which should drive the changes being made, and help measure their impact post refresh. 

We can always simplify the registation process but from my perspective that isnt´t the problem - problem is to get members to participate, to get more engagement from them. Creating a better onboarding experience is excellent tip, that is something we have to look at.

---

Thanks a lot for your post and thoughts, I really appreciate.

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Re: About the community life cycle

Hi @Enidin 

Great question!
Along with a super user or champion program, what other things are you doing around engagement?
Are you and your staff replying or @ mentioning members in your community? Have you ever tried a quarterly Town Hall hosed on WebEx or Zoom with company and community updates that include Q&A? I am sure you have a list of potential champions or top contributors; set up actual calls with them to get their feedback on community design, content, get their suggestions. Lastly, if you have a trade show or event coming up, set up a community booth and invite customers to meet live.

You are on the right track: you see a potential issue, want to improve it, and are looking at engagement rather than vanity metrics.
Cheers,
Toby
Enjoy and best of luck.

Community Manager - Seismic Software
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Re: About the community life cycle

Hi @JulieHamel 

These are excellent!
May I ask about value analytics? I agree that it could yield some great results, but I have experienced a very low open rate. Would you please share your strategy both with the questions and your communication strategy of the opening of the survey?
I would like to try again, but rethink my procedure.
Cheers!

Toby

Community Manager - Seismic Software
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Re: About the community life cycle

As Julie pointed, out, this is quite common with support communities. In some cases, it is actually a positive because it means that you've built a wide base of knowledge that people are searching and finding the answers they need without having to post a new question. It's also why leaning on legacy metrics like Registrations and Posts can hurt you in the long-run (look at value metrics that still show scale over time - Accepted Solution Views, etc).

If it is still your desire to increase visits, posts, and other engagement, then you'll need to design programs to spur folks to participate outside of the well-worn support use cases. Learning, Ideation, Contests, and User Groups are common expansions of support communities for this purpose.

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Re: About the community life cycle


@Toby wrote:

Along with a super user or champion program, what other things are you doing around engagement?


I don´t want to tell more but that´s the thing - we don´t do much. We have SU program and that´s mostly everything what we do (besides ranks and badges).


@Toby wrote:
Are you and your staff replying or @ mentioning members in your community?

My moderators (staff) replies to the discussions. We have rule not to answer too quick, we wait if there´s member who can answer and continue the discussion. In support section it works quite well but only there.

Why do you ask about mentioning members?


@Toby wrote:
Have you ever tried a quarterly Town Hall hosed on WebEx or Zoom with company and community updates that include Q&A? I am sure you have a list of potential champions or top contributors; set up actual calls with them to get their feedback on community design, content, get their suggestions.

Yes but only with the superusers. We should think about other users as well.


@Toby wrote:
Lastly, if you have a trade show or event coming up, set up a community booth and invite customers to meet live.

It is good idea. You think it will increase engagement in the community as well, when they have met each other?

---

Thanks for your thoughts.

 

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Re: About the community life cycle

 

@Toby wrote:
Are you and your staff replying or @ mentioning members in your community?

My moderators (staff) replies to the discussions. We have rule not to answer too quick, we wait if there´s member who can answer and continue the discussion. In support section it works quite well but only there.

Why do you ask about mentioning members?

My Reply - Waiting to let members answer is a good thing: people love to share and participate, but if there are no threads to jump into, thought leaders stop coming. Often my mods and I don't answer the question, but simple post and acknowledgment of the question and also ask a clarifying question.
Regarding @ mentioning - I do it to ensure the poster knows the question has been seen and to give them a call to action. For example, when a question has a few posted answers, I pop into the discussion with a @ mention to the poster to please indicate if any of the supplied answers helped and to mark one as an answer to make the knowledge easier for others to find.

 

@Toby wrote:
Lastly, if you have a trade show or event coming up, set up a community booth and invite customers to meet live.

It is good idea. You think it will increase engagement in the community as well, when they have met each other?

My Reply: Yes. Communities are about knowledge and relationships. When customers actually meet and chat, it makes things real and people are more willing to engage and help each other out.

 

Great post.
Cheers,
Toby

Community Manager - Seismic Software
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Re: About the community life cycle


@BrianOblinger wrote:

As Julie pointed, out, this is quite common with support communities. In some cases, it is actually a positive because it means that you've built a wide base of knowledge that people are searching and finding the answers they need without having to post a new question. It's also why leaning on legacy metrics like Registrations and Posts can hurt you in the long-run (look at value metrics that still show scale over time - Accepted Solution Views, etc).


When I calculate our ROI (contact deflection) it is in good level and I´m happy because of that. And good ROI is proof that people will find what they are looking for (help and solutions). But I want more, this isn´t enough. I want that our community is more thans "just" a support community.

@BrianOblinger wrote:

If it is still your desire to increase visits, posts, and other engagement, then you'll need to design programs to spur folks to participate outside of the well-worn support use cases. Learning, Ideation, Contests, and User Groups are common expansions of support communities for this purpose.


Groups is something I have thinking about and it´s on my TODO list.

--

Thanks for your thoughts.

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Re: About the community life cycle


@Toby wrote:
Waiting to let members answer is a good thing: people love to share and participate, but if there are no threads to jump into, thought leaders stop coming. Often my mods and I don't answer the question, but simple post and acknowledgment of the question and also ask a clarifying question.

Good tips, thanks.

Now I started to think about this:

"but if there are no threads to jump into, thought leaders stop coming"

We have to set up quick polls and threads where we ask simple questions what are still related to the community´s scope (not OT topics). I think that might work (with the other things I have planned).

Regarding @ mentioning - I do it to ensure the poster knows the question has been seen and to give them a call to action. For example, when a question has a few posted answers, I pop into the discussion with a @ mention to the poster to please indicate if any of the supplied answers helped and to mark one as an answer to make the knowledge easier for others to find.

This is what we do:

Sometimes we pop into discussion and ask

  • did user found help from the supplied answers
  • is the case still valid, did the user found help somewhere and if so what the solution was
  • is there anyone who can help the user (if there´s no answers at all)
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