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:

Kate Tellers, The Moth: Principles of Great Storytelling

Kate Tellers, The Moth: Principles of Great Storytelling Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: Stories are the great unifier. When told well, they create a powerful connection to the human experience. No organization knows this better than The Moth. Since...

Protected: Dozens: Launching A Fintech Startup From Scratch

Password Protected

To view this protected post, enter the password below:

Peter Fader: Customer Centricity is Not About “The” Customer

Peter Fader: Customer Centricity is Not About “The” Customer Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: Wharton School Professor of Marketing Peter Fader sometimes wishes he never used the words “Customer Centricity” in his first book, Customer Centricity, and...

BAT companies prove the case for customer-centrism

BAT companies prove the case for customer-centrism

by Felix Koch (C Space)
Campaign

Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent have built multi-billion dollar businesses by putting the customer—not the advertiser—at the centre of their thinking, and Western platforms should take note.

Jonah Berger: Social Influence and Word of Mouth

Jonah Berger: Social Influence and Word of Mouth Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: How does anything become popular? And what are the influences that dictate our decisions -- whether we’re conscious of it or not? Wharton School Professor Jonah Berger is...

Gary Pisano: Can Big Companies Really Be Innovative?

Gary Pisano: Can Big Companies Really Be Innovative? Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: Innovation. It’s the most overused buzzword in business. It’s also a catalyst for growth. But is it possible for big companies to be truly innovative? Or are they...

10 Podcasts That Will Change Your Business Life For The Better

10 Podcasts That Will Change Your Business Life For The Better

by Laura Garnett
Inc.

A great way to stay connected to current business trends and news is listening to podcasts. There’s no shortage of channels to tune into, so here is a list of some of the top podcasts – including Outside In with Charles Trevail.

Jeff Blau, CEO, Related: Building a City of the Future

Jeff Blau, CEO, Related: Building a City of the Future Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: Is Hudson Yards the future of urban living? New York City’s newest neighborhood is now home to L’Oréal, SAP, Blackrock, Time Warner, and Coach, just to name a few....

Kate O’Neill: Rise of the Tech Humanist

Kate O'Neill: Rise of the Tech Humanist Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: Understanding what makes humans “human” is an essential question for any company today. Especially the ones embarking on a digital transformation -- or any tech initiative. This...

Francesca Gino: Live (and Work) Like a Rebel

Francesca Gino: Live (and Work) Like a Rebel Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: David Bowie sang about one. Star Wars had an Alliance of them. James Dean portrayed one. Why is it that we admire rebels? Is there value in breaking the rules? Harvard...