Questions to ask a fledgling community


(Nigel Amyes) #1

Hello Everyone!
I haven’t had the chance to pick anyone’s brain yet or spend any time asking the experts my questions… so busy! But then I’m sure you know how it is.

So my question… is about questions.

In a nutshell, I have been put in charge of a previously neglected community of Public Sector employees. We have a bunch of members that have told us they want to be part of the community at events we run and in some cases have joined and partially completed their profiles. I imagine they bought into the ‘sales pitch’ and thought at the time we had an amazing community thing going, joined and then found that while some of the content was interesting there was none of the interaction and engagement they get from something like Linkedin - this is one of the ‘selling’ points.

Things are on the move and change is afoot! Hence my appointment as Community Manager. I’m determined to build this sucker and prove to my directors that we have an asset that requires more than just a couple of hours a day management and can be used to grow income, build brand, generate events and all the other ‘stuff’ they want it to do.

We will be getting in touch with our potential membership (those that have joined and not completed profiles and those that said they have interest but have not yet joined) in the coming days to tell them things are changing and reminding them of some of the benefits of belonging to the community which is great!

I also thought it might be a good chance to survey them (nothing too involved) and find out what they want in a community instead of just guessing… controversial I know! (side note: My directors are always finding new shiny tools and toys to put in front of them and ‘see if this gets them engaged’ kind of like throwing mud at a wall and going with what sticks I guess)

Given this is a fledgling community which I classify as just barely getting off the ground so far, I’m interested to know what are some of the best questions you have used in a survey? What would you ask?

thanks in advance for your contribution!

(Richard Millington) #2

Hey @nigel_a

This sounds like a concept problem.

People tend to join pretty much anything if it requires little effort and sounds novel. That’s not really a sign of a strong concept, it’s a sign that that people expected to get a benefit from joining.

If you were a client, I’d suggest schedule around 20 to 30 interviews with members of the audience and take 2 weeks to speak to as many of them as possible. Find out what they think about the community at the moment, what their jobs are like, what are the biggest challenges they have etc…and then design a community concept to tackle that challenge. Make it lazer-focused here.

If you survey people, what you’ll get is people’s opinions on the issue but not their attitude (intensity of passion) towards an issue. In person or on the phone interviews should tell you that.

I’d be asking questions to learn as much about them as possible. Who are they, what are their backgrounds, what do they find frustrating, what do they enjoy about the work, etc…then redesign the concept around that specific topic (the niche within the niche).

Going to drop in a reference to your other post here: Re-engaging a new community.

(corinna snyder) #3

I second the suggestion to talk, as opposed to survey, and to use open ended questions to find out what want but don’t have, and in particular what they want that they don’t get via Linkedin, what else they currently use that works for them, what their challenges are, etc, so you can understand what the opportunities are for you to provide something they want/need.

(Nigel Amyes) #4

Thanks @richard_millington and @corinnasnyder!

Initially, I thought sending out a survey via email was going to work as we have an extremely good response to other surveys we send out - I should mention that we are an events company at our heart and often survey out attendees to create content for our wider site.

Having read both your comments I think this time I’m going to call a few folks and run through some of the survey questions over the phone instead - and yes I agree completely with the open questions and those around their current challenges etc. I also take on-board the point about lack of personality you get from a survey that’s online or in email form.

I think one of the issues we’ve had is that the membership flow from sign up to actually getting involved in the discussion forum (and using other parts of the site) was a little broken and left members wondering what to do next or where they should go next. I’ve been working on that recently and we have started to see members getting more and more engaged.

Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for your help!

@richard_millington you’ll be pleased to know I ordered your book last week and it’s finally arrived :slight_smile: so I’m looking forward to discovering the little gems hidden within it’s pages.

(Richard Millington) #5

Good morning @nigel_a, thanks for ordering the book.

I hope you find it useful to your work. Keep us posted on how this goes. I think it would be really interesting to see what you notice your members being passionate about compared with a survey. This discussion has inspired a blog post I’ve got planned for next week.

What do you ask them to do now? What has worked well here?

(Nigel Amyes) #6

@richard_millington When I became the go to for the community we had no membership flow, members would join and hopefully complete their profile. If they did complete their profile they were left wondering where to go next. The emails they would receive along the way were very basic and didn’t help the cause at all. Yes it was that bad!

Now I have them completing their profile, once it’s complete, they are then redirected to our discussion boards to introduce themselves to the wider community and also given information about the other areas of the portal we operate. I have also refined the membership flow over all, making sure we use the emails we send out at each stage of the process - Pending approval, approval and Welcome (this is a work in progress, what I’m working on this week :slight_smile:) to educate the member along the way. These measures have only recently been put in place, with members already more engaged in parts of the portal my directors had added to the cull list because no one was using them.