Read on to discover:

  • Key internal and external drivers behind research communities at risk
  • 4 areas of action to get your community back on track
  • Best practices to promote a preventative mindset with stakeholders

Launching a market research community is no simple task. From selecting a platform, identifying research goals, recruiting members, and getting stakeholder support, creating a thriving online community can take years of blood, sweat, and tears. Maintenance is crucial to keep things going even when a community is up and running like a well-oiled machine. Even the most enthusiastic members can drift off, and once gung-ho, executives can put research on the back burner.

Reinvigorating your online market research community is arguably just as important as launching one in the first place. You wouldn’t invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into building a house and never clean it, right? You would mop the floors, dust the tables, and wipe the counters to keep things looking their best. The same concept is true of online communities. Researchers must keep things going with regular “cleanings” to ensure a return on investment. This article will discuss how to identify when a research community is at risk, the main areas of action to get your community back on track, and how to inspire stakeholders to back a proactive approach to community health.

How To Identify A Market Research Community At Risk

Understanding the signs of a floundering market research community is critical for researchers to stop problems before they begin. There are two primary symptoms of a research community at risk with ten underlying drivers, making the symptoms appear. On an internal level, risk increases when stakeholders become less involved in the community, with fewer requests for research. Externally, when members become less engaged in the community, it is challenging to fulfill research objectives. Internal and external issues feed into each other and can create a snowball-like effect if not addressed quickly. Here are some of the drivers of internal and external symptoms.

Some of the drivers of internal symptoms include:

  • Lack of speed and timeliness = Insights/research outcomes are not presented quickly
  • Mismatch of capabilities and desired methods = Expectations vs. reality
  • Insufficient education and coaching = Stakeholders, key leaders, and employees do not understand the importance or objectives of the community
  • Research disconnected from enterprise initiatives = Stakeholders don’t feel that the data aligns with company-wide goals
  • Deliverables aren’t impactful or actionable = Stakeholders don’t think that the data is relevant or can be acted on

Some of the drivers of external symptoms include:

  • Research is repetitive or monotonous = Members are bored
  • Too many or too few opportunities to participate = Feast or famine
  • Research activities are challenging to understand = Members are confused
  • Poor technology UX = Research methods aren’t user friendly or adapted to the “instant gratification” culture
  • Members don’t feel valued = Members are treated as a resource instead of an asset

The 4 Main Areas Of Action To Get Your Community Back On Track

If your market research community is at risk of falling apart, there are several steps that you can take to turn things around, including engagement activities, research methods, audience refresh, and KPI monitoring.

Engagement Activities

Internally = Researchers should develop a roadmap to engage stakeholders with ongoing communication to connect research activities to company priorities, proactively socialize the community with success stories, newsletters, etc., and deepen engagement by finding opportunities to give stakeholders safe access to members.

Externally = Researchers must refresh content and incentives to keep members interested, activate community building/encourage members to communicate with each other, and delegate an engagement role to a community member.

Research Methods

Internally = Researchers need to educate internal stakeholders by showcasing and hosting roadshows, share information, success stories, and ways to use the community, have 1:1 meetings to understand barriers to entry and obtain a firm commitment to the community, and accentuate the value of the community and connect it to stakeholder goals.

Externally = Researchers should deploy variety and creativity in research methods, assess the length of projects, vary topics, switch up formats, and allow member-generated topics.

Audience Refresh

Internally = Researchers can increase reach by ensuring the community is front and center for all new hires and internal teams, diversify and recalibrate the audience to fit internal and departmental needs, and conduct ongoing 1:1 conversations with stakeholders to understand internal shifts.

Externally = Researchers must create an onboarding experience to allow members to get to know other community members, moderators, processes and expectations, recruit continuously to maintain a vibrant space, and nurture a sense of community.

KPI Monitoring

Internally = Researchers need to track impact measures for ROI beyond cost savings, i.e., entering new markets/ “sell” the community internally, generate impact reviews with people, processes, and technology as parameters, and conduct periodic senior leadership reviews/make community indispensable.

Externally = Researchers should continually measure the volume of members, quality of responses, participation rates/engagement, and satisfaction of members via surveys.

Inspiring Stakeholders To Back A Proactive Approach To Community Health

At the end of the day, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to the health and wellness of your online market research community. Market research communities take significant time, effort, money, and dedication to build, and as such, they require regular maintenance to stay intact and churning out results. Understanding the signs and drivers of an at-risk community is crucial for deploying proactive responses.

Market researchers can implement course correction if things get out of whack within four main areas: engagement activities, research method shake-ups, audience refreshes, and KPI monitoring. Finally, internal stakeholders must be educated, inspired, and leveraged to maintain community fidelity.

If you ever feel like your market research community has run its course, you’re struggling to track or find ROI, or you simply want to avoid pitfalls before you launch a community, check out our latest webinar, “Reinvigorating Your Research Community (psst: It’s as important as launching one).” The experts at Gongos and Fuel Cycle have seen it all and have helped dozens of brands launch and reinvigorate their research communities for optimal performance and value. Ensure your community is alive and indispensable to key stakeholders today.