Conversation is the Core of Community

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If you ask community leaders what they think is the basis of a thriving online community,  you’ll often get the response: “Common Interest.” And it’s true; common interest often draws people together. Tightly focused communities around highly targeted content can drive deep audience engagement and impressive business results. However, there is one key risk that even the most active communities face: How do you avoid hitting the wall? And by that, I mean the wall of repetitive content, the exhaustion of key topics, and the subsequent decline in engagement, activity, and traffic. In short, how do you avoid community flameout?

We’ve been grappling with this existential issue at CredSpark and have kept coming back to the same question:  Is “Common Interest” the foundation of successful community building? Or is “the Discovery of Common Interest” the foundation of successful community building?  Are successful communities built in a focused way around a common interest from the top down? Or are they the result of a continuous back-and-forth between audience members where shifting common interests and topics emerge and drive activity and engagement?

No, we’re not talking about replicating a Facebook free-for-all food fight. However, even communities that are highly focused on a particular subject or domain can benefit and thrive from bottom up, audience-driven activity. But how do you create that?

The Promise of Conversation

Think about it: What’s the secret sauce of a really great party (besides free flowing booze)? It’s great conversation. And how is great conversation fostered? People ask interesting and probative questions of each other and in the process, learn more about one another; find common interests; and make deeper connections.  We think that “process”—enabled through interactive content—can be an underlying driver of audience engagement, audience development, and community building. Let’s dig deeper by starting with a question…

What’s the Impact of Conversation on a Community?

Incorporating interactive content into your community can foster audience conversations and tangibly improve business results. In our client work, we see positive impact in six key areas:

Audience Activity & Engagement

Interactive content experiences crush industry standard metrics for engagement. Whether your key KPIs are clicks, page views, user-generated content, or time on site, interactive content consistently outperforms static content and even video because it’s active engagement, not passive.

Learning

Conversation is all about learning. In fact, it’s one of the most powerful learning tools around. Interactive content experiences provide opportunities for audience members to test their knowledge on key topics, discover new information, expose knowledge gaps, see how they stack up to others in the community, and foster conversations with other audience members. Learning and discovery are engagement wildfires. They keep your audience coming back for more and position your brand and community as a place to seek knowledge, which is incredibly powerful.

User Experience

Incorporating interactive engagements into your user experience not only dramatically improves site metrics, but also deepens your relationships with community members. It provides another outlet of expression and adds another dimension of engagement, creating super-sticky experiences that audiences crave.

Transactions

When you think about it, every customer transaction is the result of a journey of discovery where you learn information, explore options, weigh differences, and get the opinions of others. Interactive content can harness audience conversations and guide them through an experience that leads to transactions (membership, product sales, subscriptions, and more). It’s a powerfully effective way to turn audience engagement into revenue.

Data & Audience Development

Every question answered, every opinion given in interactive content experiences generates valuable audience data. With the move away from cookies, first- and zero-party data will be crucial to understanding your audience needs and interests, delivering value for sponsors, and maintaining the health and growth of your community. We regularly see interactive experiences generate tens of thousands of data points. They provide breadth and depth to your audience data, and provide you with a richer—and more actionable—understanding of your community.

Sponsorship & Advertising

All that chatter and activity generate data that can help you more effectively connect the right audience members with the right sponsors or advertisers. Interactive content experiences not only generate new leads, they qualify them in the process. Trust me: Your sponsors will be knocking down your door for this. And you can charge them a premium to do it.

Get those conversations going!

Want to create real impact for your community in 2022? Use interactive content to spark conversations within your audience.  And then, watch the magic happen. 

Need a little inspiration? Explore CredSpark’s Experience Gallery.

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