The participant at the center of our Community

Once Netquest’s new Online Communities service has been presented, it appears we have everything ready: the platform, the questions that will guide our investigation, the script… Ready! Let’s start? Oh, wait…

It seems we are forgetting the key element to success in our Community: the people who participate in it. How to recruit them, motivate them and encourage them may be the magic formula that ensures us high levels of participation and relevance in the data obtained. Also, by offering a familiar, trustworthy environment for the participants, we guarantee even more success for the project. In this post we will provide you with some clues on how to achieve this.


  • First steps

The start of our Community must be like a good instruction manual: a quick guide on what we will ask our guests and how we need them to participate. In addition, the first activities in the Community can be used as a warm-up: at this point it is essential to publicly and positively recognize the answers of everyone and the debate that is generated. Constant feedback to their contributions will ensure a good climate of participation and commitment for the rest of the project. We all like to be recognized for a job well done, and if it is in the agora (or in our online agora), even better.

One of the most frequent comments of participants in Online Communities* is about the interest generated by the topics that are discussed in the Community and what the goal of the studies is:


I would like the study conclusions to be shared with us, as the topic is very interesting and current.  J.M., 38 years old, Medellin.

I was missing information on the project.  A., 30 years old, Madrid.

It would be nice to have some feedback from those who made the blog.  L.E., 46 years old, Buenos Aires.


The opinions of the participants do not fall on deaf ears, we use them to make decisions on real projects. Let’s let them know this!





  • During the Community

Participants are at center of this reflection. But let’s stop calling them this. They are people and they might be our work colleagues or our next-door neighbor. The question that must always guide us when preparing activities for a Community is: would I participate in the debate that I am preparing, if I were in their place? If the answer is “no,” it will probably be the same for them and the drop in participation will be significant. So think of more attractive activities, in which they feel they can contribute more, or even shorter and more specific tasks. This is a recurring remark in the feedback of participants in communities:


Interesting proposal. There were many similar questions. They could be associated with the same topic and not presented in different topics asking almost the same thing.  D., 32 años, Bogota.

 Simpler question formulation. S., 48 años, Rosario.


Another mistake we cannot make is excessive communication. We have found that with only one reminder email a day (and no more) we obtain high participation rates. Let’s see what one person thought at the end of a Community:


It was good, but at the beginning the moderator sent many emails asking us to comment more. I didn’t like that he sent so many emails because I was already willing to join the debate and they seemed nagging. V.A., 25 años, Medellin.


We must use the advantage that this asynchronous participation tool offers us: each person can participate at the time of day he or she prefers. Give them time and trust they will do it. If our proposal is relevant to them and we offer an incentive in line with their time and effort, the success of our Community is guaranteed.


I think it is fitting that they want to know the opinion of the people in this type of projects that may affect the population before being implemented. This should happen with other types of projects, too. L., 36 años, Bilbao.

*Data obtained from surveys carried out by Netquest with people who have participated in Online Communities.

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