Building engaged communities: tips for promoting member interaction
Communities are the future of the internet. However, their initial success can end up playing a major part in their decline and eventual failure. Read on to learn about some of the benefits and risks of creating and maintaining online communities and a new, more empowering way to drive interactions, grow engagement and nurture brand loyalty.
Over the past few years, social media giants like Facebook have put an increasing focus on groups that bring together individuals with a common interest. Data platform GWI offers additional insights about this megatrend:
Users are joining online communities: already in 2019, a whopping 76% of global internet users have engaged with at least one online community.
Brands are increasingly using online communities: 75% of large organisations worldwide had some sort of an online community in 2019.
Thriving communities accelerate brand value
Great examples of brand communities include the LEGO Ideas community, the Harley Owners Group, and Duolingo, a language-learning app that has a community at its core. There are multiple reasons to invest in a community, for example, reducing support costs for customers by up to 25%, increasing marketing ROI by up to 31% and boosting customer retention.
Communities have a notable impact on the social and emotional relationships with and around brands. The GWI research confirms that meaningful conversations, mutual respect and authentic self-expression are the main reasons that people choose to join a community. The marketing impact of connecting that to a brand seems obvious, but it only works if the community is perceived as authentic. The emotional currency of communities revolves around being understood, respected, and appreciated — “the community feeling”.
The community feeling (Source: GlobalWebIndex November 2019)
Why engagement turns to apathy
However, most communities have an initial period of thriving before engagement fizzles out and the community fails (see our previous article). New and exciting communities often attract a large number of members, only to eventually go through the same lifecycle.
Among other reasons, the issue of decreasing engagement as the community grows could be the main cause of this “community churn”. As the number of community members increases, people don’t recognise each other any more, and as a result, the “community feeling” begins to fade - see the stats on community engagement by size below. The data from Higher Logic reports supports the notion that small communities (below 5k members) have significantly more engaged members (30%) than medium-sized communities (5k-50k at 20%) and large communities with over 50k members (where only 10% are engaged). Engagement in this context means producing and interacting with content, so it’s an even smaller percentage which actually creates content.
Source: Higher Logic
The decreasing emotional payoff leads members to come back less frequently. Additionally, the threshold for posting something is much higher if the channel is full of strangers (as opposed to friends).
Member interaction is the foundation of engagement
The root cause of diminishing engagement is that member discovery and interactions can’t keep up with the growth. At first, most members know each other and have communicated before. But, as the community grows, multi-participant calls and platform interactions are no longer enough to create the community feeling. Community managers who tag people on specific content and introduce them to each other can mitigate the effect to some degree, but usually have no chance of keeping up with this manual process. For these reasons, the community moves from a tightly-knit group of friends to a crowd of strangers loosely interested in the same topic.
Empowering more authentic connections with AI
Superlinked has built an automated AI-powered solution to address the root causes of falling community engagement - member discovery and interaction - and with every connection made, our AI algorithm becomes an expertly skilled matchmaker. Our core mission is to help build a new social media where users are truly being served, instead of commoditised. For those reasons, we are embedding data privacy in our software architecture right from the beginning.
Superlinked starts from the information that members provide to the community and augments that with the information publicly available about them online. The data in members' social graph across current social networks contains high-signal information about who they would enjoy meeting the most. By making inferences on the basis of members’ existing connections, we create a social space where data is user-owned and algorithms are transparent and empowering.
Our AI algorithm matches relevant members for one-to-one introductions at a desired frequency. The algorithm takes into account “deep” characteristics, from job history to personality traits and interests, in its matchmaking. Members can also set explicit personal goals that they’d like to be matched on. For example, they could be interested in growing their network in a specific sector to advance their career, or looking for new employees, investors, partners or other key stakeholders for their business. The result is a self-reinforcing feedback loop that enables communities to stay healthy as they grow.
The Superlinked Community Cycle
Join the Superlinked journey
We are piloting Superlinked with a select group of high-quality communities across different domains (such as entrepreneurship, corporate and educational alumni and professional groups), with millions of community members on the waiting list. Complete the form on our website if you would like to be part of our journey.