In this article we will share our thoughts and wisdom on the ‘How long should I plan for my research community (MROC) to last?’ topic.
We get asked the question ‘How long should I plan for my research community (MROC) to last?’ a lot, so I thought I’d share our thoughts and wisdom on this one with you.
First of all, there is no hard and fast rule about how long your research community should live on. It can be argued that a bulletin board focus group constitutes a community, in which case the community may last only a matter of days. But for the purpose of this discussion, let’s focus on thoroughbred research communities (ie. excluding community panels) of between 100-500 members.
There are several factors affecting the ‘life’ of your community, which can be summarised as follows;
Clearly, you should set out on the road to delivering a research community with a clear budget. Your budget should cover such elements as technology, skills, rewards and incentives, and finally, in some instances, recruitment.
When planning your community, you’ll need to make decisions on what is kept in house and what is outsourced. Naturally these will impact your budget, which in turn have an impact on how long the community can be kept alive.
Your community may be designed to deliver just a single objective such as a piece of NPD or validation, but in a lot of cases they are built as a resource that can be tapped into by many people within the organisation over time. Therefore, objectives may change on a monthly basis and regular planning required to ensure these demands are achievable and delivered.
Not all communities are the raging success you’d hope for. For many good reasons, they can fail. For example, you may lack the ‘glue’ that you thought you had, the sort that keeps your community interested and engaged. There may be a cultural event or disaster of some kind that drastically changes the behaviour of your members. Or quite simply, you just not getting the level of participation required to justify the investment, the result being that the community is closed down.
Tasks and Exercises
You need to achieve a good balance between the volume and frequency of tasks and activities that you launch. Too many and you risk fatigue, the result of which is a fall-out of participants. Too few and you might see people’s interest wane and their attention drift elsewhere. Get it right and you have will engage interesting and interested people in creative ways you never thought possible.
So you see, there’s no one answer to this question, it’s all down to the careful planning and implementation of a sound research community strategy, business case and investment.
To find out more about how you can plan your research community for success, why not get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org
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