What’s Involved In Managing My Online Research Community
Your market research online community (MROC) needs a Community Manager, but you'll need to know the differences between managing an online community and managing an online research community.
If you’re a brand or organisation thinking of building your own online research community (MROC) as a way of regularly delivering fresh that can help you make the right decisions and helping you develop new products and services, then you’ll no doubt be pondering the role of the Community Manager.
There are of course similarities in this role to that of a Community Manager working on communities of a different purpose, ie marketing or support-led communities, but it’s the differences that are important to focus on. So we’ve taken a look at the typical activities and responsibilities you should be building into this role.
Recruitment & Growth
Unlike other community-types, the research community will have narrower membership criteria, including demographics and attitudinal. Over the course of time, members will drop out naturally and need replacing, so whether you are recruiting from a panel, existing customer data or social media channels, recruitment is one of the most important ongoing activities.
Online research communities are likely to last several months or years, so retaining the interest of its members is tantamount to its success. The Community Manager will need to create ‘sticky’ content - that which is interesting, relevant, engaging and often unique.
The best relationships are those that build organically over time, but deepening relationships with leading contributors - the most creative, outspoken, advocate, connected etc - pays dividends. These members can also help you with your activities. For example, make them Moderators or ask them to volunteer for various other duties which you can reward them for in a number of social and emotional ways.
The best communities don’t just exist online. Punctuate your community with a range of live events, debates, presentations, parties etc, and you’ll see the participation rise and the relationships flourish.
The power of your community is it’s ability to generate fresh insight and new ideas. So with the right training and tools, your Community Manager should be hunting for these golden nuggets every day. Tracking insight, trends and attitudinal changes forms part of this activity and should be supported with tools that allow them to annotate and organise the information for future reporting and dissemination
One of the benefits of working with digital insight is that it can be shared quickly and easily, and can be bought to life in a multitude of ways (think data visualisation, video reports etc). Insight should be present at board level discussions, so the role of the Community Manager is also to ensure your people are engaged with it.
This can be pre or post moderation, and focuses on making the community a safe and positive environment, weeding out the bad and highlighting the good.
Your Community Manager need not be a developer versed in the art of writing code, but it certainly helps if they can get involved in technical conversations and write specifications for new tools.
Responding to questions and requests for help
Given the extent of the activities above, your Community Manager needs to be highly organised and motivated. As your community launches, they’ll spend more time on recruitment, but over time this might reduce, so they’ll need to strike a balance while sustaining a focus.
Your Community Manager needn't be a full-time position to begin with, but as your community extends, it may be worth considering the optimisation of this role to ensure your community meets it business objectives. Research communities are major commitments, so don’t take them lightly and be sure to consider all the elements, not just Community Manager, but also technology, style and content, design and investment.