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Why Some Online Community Members Last Longer than Others

As a manager, you need to understand that online communities host transient members. Though they have are some long-term participants, most members leave after a while for a variety of reasons. Often times, their departure has nothing to do with the community itself, but rather that it’s their time to move on:

  • Nothing new to gain: Many people join online communities to receive and share information, and after they’ve taken everything they can from the group, they move on. Their leaving isn’t an affront or insult; they just feel that they’ve benefited all they can from that particular network.

  • Too much negativity: If bullies, trolls, and malcontents take over a community, they’re going to drive everyone away. Keeping a community positive helps ensure a positive mix of both old and new members.

  • No time to participate: Many people join online communities with the best of intentions but find that they just don’t have the time to participate. Either they check in only sporadically, or their membership declines to nothing at all.

  • Same old, same old: The same people talking about the same things all the time doesn’t make for a very interesting community. Introducing fresh topics and new members can keep existing members coming back for more.

  • Too much change: In some communities, longtime members often miss the “good old days” and don’t relate well to new members, who may come in with new management. Longtime members who are set in their ways aren’t always open to change, so be careful not to change too many things at once, or you may drive away some of the regulars.

    Also, roll out new rules and changes a little at a time. Abrupt changes throw people off.

  • Poor management: When negative members prevail or spam is left up for days, members begin to feel that management doesn’t care, and they move on.

The communities that have the most long- term, active members are those that remain positive and introducing with fresh new topics and ideas often. Making changes is okay, but be sure that you know your members well so that you can monitor how they’ll react to any changes. Long-term members understand that change is good; they just don’t want to feel as if you’ve forgotten about them.

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