7 community management tips for better customer insights

A headshot of Judy Garvey

by Judy Garvey

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One of the most common questions we’re asked is “How can I get better insights from our co-creation community?”

Well, look no further! Here are a few tips to increase both the amount and quality of insights that come from your community.

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1. Build trust with your community members: In any situation, whether in person or online, building trust with someone is a sure-fire way to get them to share more information with you. You can do this within the community by representing yourself and your brand in an authentic way, participating in conversations and sharing information with participants yourself.  

Another great way to build trust with community members is to keep your promises. If you provide incentives to community members, make sure that you send them out in a timely manner. If you collect feedback and implement it in anyway, close that feedback loop and let community members know that their suggestions have been used. If you want to share the scrubbed results of a private survey or a quiz that users completed, feel free to do so!

Related Read: Market research vs. consumer insights: which fuels innovation?

Members love to see that their ideas are being implemented and that their participation is actually valued by your brand.  Once community members start to trust you and your team, they’ll be more likely to share personal, insightful information with you.

2. Find out what motivates your community members: Knowing what motivates your customers can take some time, but it’s extremely worth it and can help you get better insights from community members. You may want to start by testing out different incentives (physical prizes, or digital ones like points and badges) for certain activities and see how they impact completion rates. 

If you’re asking members to complete a challenge with a high cognitive load that requires them to provide thoughtful, in-depth responses, you should definitely provide incentives with higher value. On the other hand, quick surveys or quizzes can be rewarded with digital incentives, or a shout out in a blog or email. Public recognition can definitely go a long way, if you see an excellent submission, sharing it with community members rewards the content creator, and also sets the standard for higher-quality insightful submissions from other users.

 3. Encourage users to think creatively and critically: Community members might be really good at completing quick, easy activities, but they may shy away from more complex surveys or discussions. Using a variety of activity types you can encourage users to think more creatively and critically (and therefore provide better insights) by building up to an activity with a bigger “ask.” 

Read next: 6 online community management tips for your business

Get community members thinking about harder tasks by creating a series of activities that builds up to a larger challenge, and keep your activities varied over the life of your community. Storytelling and thought experiment-type activities can be more difficult to analyse quantitatively, but can provide some of the most valuable, observational data on consumer behavior and motivation.

4. Probe for more information. Ask “Why?” An effective moderator (or moderation team) is an extremely valuable resource and can help make members feel comfortable sharing more insightful information. 

While you might think of a moderator as someone who is available to answer questions and diffuse disagreements, they also play a crucial role as the “host” of the community, and can represent you and your brand even if they’re not a part of your team.

Moderators can help to encourage discussion and ask leading questions. We love it when moderators are helpful and friendly, but it’s more effective if they help members build on their submissions by encouraging them to share more details with the community.

5. Don’t be afraid of your competition: We often hear from our clients that they only want their community members to talk about their own brand and their experiences with their own products. We understand the desire to keep the content familiar and locked down. After all, you didn’t build your community to promote someone else’s brand. 

If your customers are talking about other brands, encourage them and have your moderation team participate in the conversation. Don’t be afraid of asking questions about your competitors in surveys or activities – you can learn a lot about where there may be opportunities for you to improve, and where your competitors may be falling short and you need to capitalize on.

6. Set clear goals – for everything: Love it or hate it, goal setting is an essential part of community management, especially for research. From deciding the purpose and objectives of your community before you even launch the community, to establishing goals for each activity you publish, having clear goals will help steer what kind of insights you should be digging for. 

The objectives don’t have to be big and lofty, especially for every single survey or poll, but there should be an understanding of why you’ve chosen to ask certain questions or what type of results you are looking for.

If you want to understand why a particular group of members feels a specific way, make sure that you’re targeting your activities to them, and be focused in your messaging.

Ensure that your moderation team also is clear on these objectives as it will help them look for the right kinds of content to highlight, and specific actions to take to delve further into conversations.   

7. Keep recruiting: Continuing your recruitment efforts over the life of your community will ensure that you bring in new members with fresh ideas and of course, additional insights. 

As you plan your recruitment, consider the source of your members and ensure you are targeting the right audiences, which will provide value to you and your business. We also encourage program planning to cater to new audiences – if you’ve run an activity or survey in the past, there’s no harm in repeating it later on and targeting it specifically to new participants.

As things change and develop, and your community continues to grow, asking the same questions to additional groups can provide a lot of valuable insights that you may have missed.  

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