The 4 Most Common Online Community Pitfalls

Just under 20 years ago we launched our first online insight community. In an era where traditional research was dominated by focus groups, it was ambitious: it was experimental. Today, that experiment has become accepted mainstay, and a go-to method for gathering insights.

C Space

June 20, 2018

The tool and approach we pioneered went on to define a category.

Over the course of two decades, we’ve built customers into the ways that companies work. We’ve confidently witnessed some of the world’s leading brands begin to work with customers as partners. 490,000 customers, 20 languages and 92 countries later, we’ve seen our clients businesses become more agile, more able to adapt, and much more keen-eyed with their customer-focused strategies. And we’ve seen many of them grow their revenues too.

We hear a lot about the needs of the market. We see consistent client challenges across briefs – and we hear about emerging needs in listening sessions, with a whole range of different companies who are looking for a new or different approach.

We recently asked 135 client side practitioners, from insight, innovation and brand backgrounds to describe the challenges that they face, specifically when it comes to running an online community. Some of the people we talked to were our clients, some were not.

Benjamin Franklin famously said ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ This is our ounce of prevention to help you navigate certain challenges that might not be predicted at briefing stage, but can be solved with proper planning:

1) Underestimating the size of the beast: This was the most frequently and strongly cited cause of frustration for clients. 76% percent of participants felt communities ‘became ineffective when they were under-resourced internally’.

2) Neglecting the art of engagement: Sustaining a relevant and useful community population is definitely achievable but it takes effort. If you don’t design a solid strategy to retain your members, your community will gradually lose its power.

3) Measuring Impact: Online communities can be a big commitment. Our client-side interviewees had five lessons to share to prove the ROI including: defining the community’s strategic purpose, planning impact tracking from the start, resisting the temptation to promote the community on cost-saving alone, building impact-tracking into your business’s system, and making it easy for stakeholders to feed back.

4) Forgetting your community is a brand: When you think about ‘community engagement’ it’s often to focus purely on member engagement – how active the various members of the communities are. However, it is just as important to invest time into building business engagement with the community as well.

Avoiding these pitfalls will give you the critical edge, but it won’t equip you with all the tools you need to effectively manage your online community. If you want to know how else you can ensure insight leads to business change, download the full version of Customer Inside here.

You may be interested in:

The Better Why: Insight Meets Activism

The Better Why: Insight Meets Activism

Research Live

Last month, Customer Agency C Space published The Better Why report – a piece of industry-leading thought leadership around how the current crisis has changed customers and business – and what this means for insight. C Space’s UK Managing Director Kathryn Blanshard explains more.

A closer look at the first steps in C Space’s DEI journey

A closer look at the first steps in C Space’s DEI journey

by Leah Ben-Ami (C Space)
Reward Gateway

Leah Ben-Ami is the Director of Learning at C Space, a customer agency focused on putting their client’s customers at the center of the work it does, and the way C Space approaches the work. Here’s a look at the 10 steps the organization took to improving DEI, as told by Leah:

A sense of community

A sense of community

by Bronwen Morgan
Research Live

Online research communities offer businesses a means of getting closer to their customers, generating insight and validating research findings – but they can also foster connection and empathy in uncertain times. C Space’s regional CEO Felix Koch shares his thoughts.

The Future Customer, as featured in The Times

The Future Customer As featured in The Times // Raconteur How has COVID-19 shifted your shopping mindset? Are you more mindful of the brands you shop at? The Future Customer special report, published in The Times, looks at how COVID-19 has...

The Better Why

The Better Why

Raconteur

In the battle for relevance, why does the promise of big data alone still fail to deliver? Context holds the answer. 

Pamela Newkirk: Confronting the Reality of Racism in Corporate America

Pamela Newkirk: Confronting the Reality of Racism in Corporate America Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: America was founded on principles of justice and equality. Yet, it has never lived up to these ideals in regards to how citizens of color are...

Customer Inside: A Practitioners Guide to Online Communities

Customer Inside: A Practitioners Guide to Online Communities C Space partnered with the Market Research Society (MRS) and 130 client side practitioners to explore & understand how to get the most out of online communities (and the agencies that...

Stop & Shop customers star in new COVID-19 safe shopping campaign

Stop & Shop customers star in new COVID-19 safe shopping campaign

by Russell Redman
Supermarket News

In a new advertising campaign, Stop & Shop is turning to a trusted source to promote safe shopping practices during the coronavirus crisis: its customers.

Employee engagement vs the lockdown

Employee engagement vs the lockdown

by Kate Bassett
Management Today

In this video, Professor Cary Cooper and C Space’s regional CEO Felix Koch talk to Management Today’s Kate Bassett on how to support workers during the COVID-19 crisis.

How do you solve a problem for IKEA?

How do you solve a problem for IKEA? "We discovered a happy life at home is a mix of my space, your space, and our space - but people have a hard time really defining my space, within mixed/shared spaces." Lydia Choi-Johansson Intelligence...