Our latest

Explained - insights from Explain's online communities workshop

Explain is a research and engagement agency based in Newcastle with an expertise in the build and ongoing management of online communities for clients across a variety of sectors including utilities, finance, education and retail.

In April 2019, we brought together a range of our clients to run an interactive workshop session to support in the design and management of online communities going forward. The session had a particular focus on two KPIs: recruitment and engagement.

Understanding community recruitment.

A target for total member numbers should be determined based on community objectives, i.e. is the community focussed on qualitative engagement or are there aspirations to run large scale quantitative surveys through the community? Regardless, recruitment is a priority for all online communities to keep membership fresh and this can be achieved through a variety of methods.

Understanding member engagement.

The majority of Explain communities outperform the national average for participation. There are a number of key ingredients to high engagement levels, one of which is keeping the community fresh with regular content and our Community Management teams ensure that each community has new discussions, surveys or polls launched regularly. Content plans should be varied so that members enjoy participating, and closing the loop is of utmost importance; being listened to is the key reason members report as to why they participate in the first instance. Incentives such as prize draws could also be used to drive engagement.

The engagement strategies we work on with our clients incorporate a range of techniques to suit the varying motivations of our members and this continues to be part of our development plan going forward.

Using design sprints to tackle key challenges.

Design sprints are a proven methodology for solving problems and answering critical business questions. In the workshop we used design sprint principles to explore the challenges of; how can we recruit members to online communities, and how can we increase engagement amongst members?

A number of solutions were designed and all attendees agreed that they had taken lots of ideas away with them that they will be looking to implement within their own community strategies going forward.

A focus on technical development.

We discussed the improvements that had been made in communities over the last 9 to 12 months since the launch of the new platform in April 2018. Developments have improved functionality for enhanced and more sophisticated user experience, including greater dynamism of content. Explain continually invest in and improve our community platform in order to ensure that we offer the best possible experience to community members and exceed our client expectations.

We have a clear 12-month roadmap for technical development with a number of exciting developments in the pipeline. Our plan includes some significant improvements to the current system and the proposed developments were well supported in the workshop. We also invited attendees at the workshop to provide any other ideas or suggestions they would like to see us consider going forward.

Sharing best practice.

The community workshop allowed us to share best practice in terms of recruitment, engagement, technical development and community strategy more generally, including ideas for embedding a community in the business. There were a range of ideas generated, many of which we are now taking forward as a business.

We would therefore like to take this opportunity to thank all of those who participated, and we look forward to having individual conversations with all our community clients about key actions.

If you don’t currently have an online community and would like to know more about the ideas discussed in our workshop, get in touch with Explain to understand how our platform can add value to your research and engagement programme: info@explainresearch.co.uk