Why Do They Keep Coming Back? Real-World Community Members Speak On Why They Keep Coming Back
Having a community of say 5 billion registered users is entirely meaningless if you only have 5 returning active members each month.
Many of us build online communities and wonder what that secret ingredient is which will get new members that are signing up to come back and become a frequent user. For many communities, it’s one and done. They sign up, get what I need, and never return. There’s a big difference between a community you visit once and never again to one that you is part of your everyday routine.
Understanding why community members keep coming back must be a fundamental part of your overall strategy for building a healthy and thriving community.
With that in mind, I sat down and asked real-world community members on what keeps them coming back to an online community. Hear in their own words below on the factors that will weigh heavily into sticking around.
Real-World Community Members On Why They Keep Coming Back:
“The feeling of being appreciated, needed, and that others are happy I’m there.”
Thomas Hansen, Senior Software Developer
“When there are strong ecosystems and interactions of an online community, I would want to return and keep coming back!”
YK Chen, Director of New Business Development at Climax Technology Co., LTD.
“The most important (thing to me is the) people who I met there. After some time people get to know each other and start a friendship. It is more important than the knowledge available in the community. So every community should have ‘after hours’ topics.”
“My appetite to learn more and learn new. Being a technical person, to know the trends in technology. Online community gives me an insight towards what are the conventions that are prevalent in the market now. To give back or to share the knowledge and experience you have.”
Dheeraj Gupta, Senior Software Engineer
“Inclusiveness is what I like the most about the online communities that I visit often. A healthy community should not establish barriers between any two members. Also, a knowledgeable and helpful community which enriches your knowledge, every time you visit their channels such as a website is what I look forward to.”
Rahul Rai, Enterprise Tech Lead, Zip Co. Australia
“Quality of content mostly. Fresh content that is updated regularly, possibly even from well-known authors.”
Davide Guida, Principal Software Engineer @ Fiska
“My reason for joining an online community is mainly related to my interest in keeping up with current news in my field. An online community also motivates me to continue expanding my knowledge by reading on various topics from different perspectives. Moreover, I enjoy sharing my knowledge with others and offering advice and suggestions related to my profession.”
Radivoje Ostojic, Software Engineer at https://www.brightmarbles.io/
“The most important factors are:
2) Latest Updates
3) Current Trends”
Unni Mana/Unni/Freelancer in Upwork
“I come back to an online community because it helps me grow. I have the opportunity to meet people sharing the same goals with me. Then, it’s easier to move forward together.”
Fanon Jupkwo, Back End Java Developer at Advance IT Group
“Usually, when I search for an answer and stumble into a forum/community, there are two possible outcomes: I find an answer or not. If I find a (satisfying) answer, then there usually is no reason to stay. If not, there is a chance that I have an additional question or I have information about why the provided answer is not satisfying or even wrong.
In both cases, if I have to register to the forum, I usually leave silently and proceed to the next google hit. You can’t join hundreds of communities just to once write a comment.
Only if I don’t find my answer anywhere else, then I might come back and join. That’s what happened to me with E2E.
If there was a (good) reason to invest time into joining a community (create a user account etc.), then there’s a high chance that I will come back before I look anywhere else. But the initial hurdle is quite high.”
Jens-Michael Gross, Engineer
“When registering to a new online community, I’m spending the first quarter mostly in passive mode, learning from the discussions posted by other members.
Then I start asking questions and reading the answers.
Finally, I switch to a more active role, helping other members and answering their questions.
The two main criteria for coming back to an online community are:
1. Give and take: contribution goes two-ways.
2. Inclusive: newbies and experts respect each other.
The Node-RED forum is great, so is 43oh. The Arduino general forum has been flooded with newbies, and the more professional forum is too exclusive. E2E used to provide good answers to the questions, but the search engine is a disaster, so is the auto-lock system after a month.”
Rei Vilo, Embedded Systems Developer
— — —
When looking over the responses some clear trends emerge:
- Connect with each other — Community members expect to be able to connect with each other and in meaningful ways from your online community. Make sure there are no barriers to doing that and you are focusing on growing the right audiences to compliment that.
- Be Inclusive — Community members will go where they feel a sense of belonging and that they are part of a welcoming ecosystem where their involvement matters. If your community doesn’t have that intrinsic sense of belonging, they won’t be sticking around very long.
- Community members want to share knowledge — While this isn’t a huge revelation, make sure it is easy for your community to contribute and share their knowledge. How easy is it for them in as few as steps to identify where they can share knowledge and then quickly do so?
- Curating trends — Community members love going to a community to stay up on the latest news, skills, and trends. Make it super easy by curating highlights, learning paths, and especially trends. When you curate content into digests or similar it can be super impactful where your community can get all the information they need without having to click all over your community to find it.
- Product balance — Your toolset, features, and navigation should offer a balance between novice users to super users. What works great for a superuser could be way too confusing for a new user. As you progress your community roadmap think about the balance of your community as a product at addressing the needs of new to advanced users.