Published by Angus on 20 May 2009 at 02:44 pm
Wouldn’t it be great if we had a simple model for how to engage people in an online community? There are a number of concepts out there, but none of them are tailored to the social sector. We thought it would be worth sharing our approach: ‘The Community Engagement Pyramid’. Does it strike a chord? Do you have something to say about it?.
We believe you can simplify the way most people engage with online communities into five simple stages:
- Everyone starts off as Visitors, either because they were invited or because they stumbled upon your community;
- They may sign up to become Members if there is a clear cost/benefit;
- If they are moved into action, they will become Contributors of content;
- With enough positive experiences they evolve into community Evangelists, inviting others to join;
- And finally, they may step up as community Leaders.
There is nothing inevitable about converting a person from one stage to another. At every step along the way people drop out or simply plateau. In subsequent posts we will share with you some metrics for measuring your community along these stages and offer strategies for converting members from one level into the next. But for now, we will simply describe what each of these stages looks like when you view your community members.
Visitors: These are people who simply show up at your community’s doorstep. Some are invited by existing members, some come by word of mouth, and others simply stumble upon you after an online search. They usually take a quick look around to see if they are in the right place, search for information they need, and sign-up if the benefits of membership are compelling enough.
Members: These are people who have registered to use your community site. They start by watching and learning from others in the community. If they are not actively engaged within a week they probably lose interest and leave.
Contributors: These are people who had a positive new member experience. They learned how to use your community space, they made a few friends, and then they decided to give back. Initially Contributors may only rate or tag things, then move to commenting, and finally to adding new content. Charlene Li of Forrester calls this evolution ‘collecting’, ‘critiquing’ and ‘creating’. Depending on your community, content could be such things as photos, videos, discussions, blog posts, or wikipages.
Evangelists: After Contributors have been a part of your community for a while and figured out how to get the most out of it, they may start to help new members, spread positive ‘word of mouth’ outside of your community, and invite their friends and colleagues to join.
Leaders: Finally, a very small percentage of your community so identifies with your goals and purpose that they aspire to leadership positions. These people have the interests of the wider community at heart. They inspire the community to work on collective tasks, and they facilitate, connect, build consensus, and at times allocate resources. They may also arbitrate disputes as moderators.
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