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Small Communities, Big Engagement




Engagement is getting to be quite the buzz word lately. While it’s certainly important to any site, engagement is the lifeblood of community websites. If you’re thinking about building an online community, a new study by online community developer Communispace can help.

Time for data. (Oh, numbers, how I love thee!) (And some words. Whatever.) From MediaPost:

  • 86% of the people who log on to private, facilitated communities with 300 to 500 members made contributions: they posted comments, initiated dialogues, participated in chats, brainstormed ideas, shared photos, and more. Only 14% merely logged in to observe, or “lurk.” [The opposite of most sites, yes?] The more intimate the community, the more people participate.
  • When potential members were considering whether to participate in a community, they were 30% more likely to log on when the welcome notice disclosed the company sponsoring the community. Branded sites had an initial log in rate of 71%, compared with 55% for unbranded sites.
  • In general, the research found that the stronger the “social glue”–or common interests and passions among members–the greater the participation.
  • The research found that although members of women’s communities participated more frequently than men, men seemed to have more to say when they did participate: 4.8 weekly contributions for men compared to 4.1 for the women. . . . ducational background and household income were not related to community member participation, as the passion around a community’s purpose appeared to be the main influence on participation.
  • Notably, educational background and household income were not related to community member participation, as the passion around a community’s purpose appeared to be the main influence on participation.

The study is based on analyzing the behavior of more than 26,000 users and 66 “private online communities.”

Communispace’s VP of Innovation and Research (nice title!), Julie Wittes-Schlack sums up the study nicely: “Big public communities may attract more eyeballs, but they may not be the answer for marketers who are looking for deep engagement with customers.”

If you’re looking to increase your users’ engagement, build your own community.

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    Ooh, ooh. I have a similar stat for you… http://www.useit.com/alertbox/participation_inequality.html

    I dug it up for a super secret project I did for a client ;-)

    BTW – I wonder if the men’s average weekly contributions would plummet, if you removed sports-related communities. ;-)

  • Jordan McCollum

    That’s funny, because they cited the stat that 1% of users dominate larger online communities, but I thought they’d made it up, so I didn’t mention it.

    RE: sports-related communities. I dunno, but they did include parenting communities, which I’ll bet were dominated by women, as the most active.

  • http://www.punmiris.com/ parfemi

    We are running interesting small community “perfumes niche” in South European region that demonstrates 2% growth by word of mouth or SE traffic.

    We did not engage any “email marketing” or other techniques nor publish paid articles. site is “for the sake of experiment” launched purely just by sending links to people we know and use internet ~20 persons 14th of February and now it is on 360 members and growing.

    Ratios you mention in article are correct and women do more participate than man.

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