I have been helping people build their communities for a little while. I am very happy that I was able to build a couple of communities with high engagement. A lot of people might be curious what is the standard for high engagement? My definition is simple: When you have people responding to the original content, when members interact with each other creating supporting content.
Today I want to share what are the reasons why most of the communities are struggling with their engagement.
- Decentralization. I have seen small communities with 4 social media presence. Their members were totally confused about where they should go to find the notification. In this case, decentralization can be controlled by decreasing social media presence. For some communities, they managed their social media really well. The problem was that their members are divided by different platforms. For instance, the audiences on Youtube does not interact with the audiences on twitter. This type of decentralization is a lot harder to fix. So far I haven't come across a universal solution for this one.
- No discussion thread. One of the downside sides of using chat apps for community building, What I really mean by this is that members do not have a place to create comments or follow-ups or discussions on the topic/event. There is no way to create supporting content. There is no way for people to interact with. A good example will be WhatsApp groups. You cannot discuss two topics at once. If you missed when everyone is talking about it, you can never go back and talk about it. Plus you have to scroll up so much to just get to the topic text.
- Members don't receive notifications. It turns out to be quite common that members of a club didn't see a lot of updates from the community. It's extremely common with communities on Slack. Somehow a lot of people come to me and say that Slack sometimes doesn't deliver the message in time. By the time the received it or found it, it's too late to join the discussion.
- Members can't find the message because it was too complex. A good example will be many communities on Discord. When discord pushes a notification, it doesn't always lead you to the place where the message is. You have to find it yourself, and it is hard when you have many channels and you might not even be familiar with the user interface of Discord. Most people will give up here. The downside of the channel feature if you don't design it well.
- Wrong content/Irrelevant content. This is the major mistake that most of the community builders make. When you make some content that doesn't resonate with your members, your members don't want to see it. They will only interact if they can get something they need out of it. They have to feel rewarded every time they interact with your content. This is major and critical.
- The community builder is not consistent. A lot of builders is not providing content at a consistent pace. They don't interact or respond to their members consistently. This is bad practice. You will lose trust over this. People tend to have more trust when someone shows up consistently.
- The community builder did not engage. Many community builders take engagement for granted. The inertia is bad. They expect the members to be engaging on its own. That is the wrong mindset. Early-stage community building is like an engine. You gotta spark it first, then slowly it will start to run on its own. But you must spark it first. When members post something, respond to them quickly. Be engaging. If the builder is not engaging, he/she cannot expect the members will.
- Members don't feel safe enough to participate, intimacy is lacking. It comes down to trust and relationship. You have to build trust and relationships. You want to create intimacy. Think it this way: all the community members need to be your best friends. You generate that intimacy by spending quality time and providing value to each other. With intimacy, people trust you and have a good relationship. They will feel very comfortable sharing their thoughts. This principle is extremely important to communities that deal with sensitive issues (i.e. mental health group, lawyer gathering, spiritual group, etc)
These are the 8 reasons that are causing the engagement issue in all the communities that I have met. While this is merely the reason and phenomenon, I have not yet had time to write out the solutions. I really hope this helps community builders to boost up their engagement rate.
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