Ensuring a Sense of Community Within Insight Communities

November 18, 2021
Author: Tim Taylor

November is one of those transitional months, when many in the United States shift from focusing on things outside to turning their attention more inwardly. It is a time of preparing for the coming winter, and also a time for celebrating with our friends and family and all that we have to be thankful for. While COVID-19 has put a damper on some of the get-togethers, there is still something deeply meaningful about the sense of community we share with those around us during this special time.

It is this sense of belonging—of community—that we strive to foster year-round in the Insights Communities we manage at Escalent. What are Insight Communities? They are our private, online platforms through which brands engage with their customers (and often, prospects) to easily and quickly draw meaningful insights. Our communities range from hundreds to tens of thousands of members. We engage these members in a wide variety of quantitative and qualitative activities, striving to make them feel like “insiders” and “advisors” while also getting brands the answers to pressing business issues in hours or days versus weeks.

But through years and years of this kind of work, we’ve learned it is all too easy to start viewing the resource of an Insights Community as a source of quick, inexpensive sample. After all, we treat panel sample respondents this way all the time—a resource to take from but never meaningfully give back to.  But Insights Communities should be treated differently if they are to live up to their full promise of not only delivering insights but of encouraging customers to engage with the brand and grow closer to it though their interactions. There are several key ways to foster a sense of engagement and community:

  1. Provide ongoing feedback to community members. Rather than constantly pulling information from members, provide information back to them in the form of frequent “share-backs.” What did we learn? How was it used? What are the next steps? Providing feedback helps members feel engaged and part of something that is having a tangible impact on the products and services the company is producing. And for those financial services organizations concerned about sharing too much information, any information is better than no Share as much as you (and the legal team) are comfortable sharing—it goes a long way to engaging members in a sense of community.
  2. Allow members to interact with each other through bulletin board discussions. Pose a question to the community and then step back and let members answer it in their own words and among themselves. For a maximum sense of community, clients are encouraged to occasionally enter the discussion so that community members are not only interacting among themselves, but they are also interacting with a representative of the client organization—creating a strong sense of belonging to something that is making a difference.
  3. Add additional, relevant touchpoints. Where a central portal exists for the community, post frequent content relevant to the members to encourage them to visit the portal often and view content that ties them even closer to the community.

As we enter the holiday season in the US, many of us are feeling our communities come back together. Transferring that feeling of togetherness to an Insight Community can be as simple as taking these basic steps. Not only will your community members feel more appreciated, but these steps will transform an Insights Community from just another source of easily available sample into a valuable corporate resource that ties customers closer both to the brand and to one another. To learn more about how we foster valuable, engaged Insight Communities, send us a note.

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Tim Taylor
Vice President, Financial Services

Tim has been successfully serving clients for over 30 years. Though his experience spans a wide variety of industries, he's been focused on financial services and risk management for the last 20 years. Tim draws upon his diverse experience to form highly consultative relationships with his clients. He has completed innovative quant and qual customer experience, brand and product development work for some of the nation's largest banks, insurers, investment firms and finance companies. Tim is a graduate of Indiana University's Kelley School of Business.