Results from the community managers meet-up #cmnl : How to create engaging experiences?

The ‘experience’ is key in online communities. But do we, as community managers, know what our members consider to be a great community experience? What makes them want to spend hours in our community and how can we increase their activity? The key question is: How do we create the ultimate community experience?
Let’s walk our own talk!
We regularly organize co-creation sessions for our clients: “Client Connect Days”. We brainstorm together, in order to get an idea of how our Research Communities should be positioned within the organization. But why don’t we organize something similar for our community members, where we can brainstorm on how we can optimize their experience? That’s why we’ve set up a separate on-going community to walk our own talk and understand how our members experience our communities. We ended up with some interesting insights and shared some of them during the last community managers meet-up. Read the whole stories on  and (Sorry, both are in Dutch!).
For those who missed the session, here are the 7 insights we learned by walking our own talk:

  1. Leader boards increase the competition in the community, while members are team players by nature. We found that leader boards tend to make the active more active and the passive more passive, resulting in a gap between members. This element is often too competitive in a community and often only stimulates activity in the short run.
  2. Badges are a great way to reward members for their efforts. It can really make members proud of their contribution.
  3. Game elements should be surprising, yet integrated in a transparent way. We must try to surprise our members to evoke curiosity. However, when doing so, it’s crucial to keep it transparent and show step by step how members can unlock the next surprise.
  4. Tangible rewards are a nice extra, but should not be the reason for joining a community. Material rewards are counter-productive in the long run if they are members’ primary reason for participating. Members will only show behaviour which is necessary to obtain that reward, not more. This is not the kind of behaviour you wish for as a community manager because you want members to share more and richer feedback.
  5. New members are mostly triggered by the informational benefits. New members will want to participate in order to add something new to the discussion and to learn from it. We’ve discovered that the emotional and social aspects become more important along the way once they start to know each other better. So, and especially at the beginning, emphasize the informational benefits.
  6. Feedback is an effective way to celebrate success in the long run. Giving feedback in the short term, on a personal level, definitely helps motivating the member to continue participating. In the end, feedback is crucial for creating engagement in the long run because it will show what you have accomplished with the whole group the past week, month or even quarter. So, use this feedback to celebrate your success together!
  7. Use storytelling to create engagement for upcoming themes.  Working around themes gives a good overview and creates curiosity for the upcoming discussions. Use some of the ‘play elements’ to back up these themes (e.g. count down, badges and a secret room).

Interested to learn more about research communities? Join our upcoming Smartees events in the Netherlands (12th June) and in Belgium (14th June) or join one of our online webinars.
Read the program for more information or sign up directly!

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