Understanding your Engagement Levels: A Guide to Building a Healthy Community and Achieving Market Fit

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Sep 17, 2023

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Understanding your Engagement Levels: A Guide to Building a Healthy Community and Achieving Market Fit

Building a successful community requires more than just attracting visitors and having them ask a question before leaving. It's about creating value and offering something beyond transactional support. In this article, we will explore the different shapes that your Engagement Levels chart can take and what they mean for your community. Additionally, we will discuss how market fit plays a crucial role in the success of your product and community.

Visitor Heavy: The Starting Point

Every community starts with visitors, and they will always make up the largest portion of your engagement levels. However, if the majority of your community remains at this level and fails to progress, it indicates that people aren't finding enough value to stick around. To address this, you need to think about what your community has to offer beyond basic support. Consider providing educational resources, networking opportunities, or exclusive content to incentivize community members to stay engaged.

Core Heavy: Exclusionary Community

Having a large percentage of your community at the core level might seem like a good thing, but it can actually be detrimental. If your community feels out of reach for anyone who isn't willing or able to become a core member, you're limiting your growth potential. A healthy community should offer value at all levels, not just the highest. To make your community more welcoming to casual participants and one-off contributors, consider diversifying your content and providing different entry points for engagement.

Participation Bottleneck: Smoothing Out the Transitions

Sometimes, your community may seem healthy overall, but there are unseen bottlenecks preventing members from progressing from one level to the next. This bottleneck becomes apparent when there is a significant difference between two levels, while the transitions between others are smooth. Identifying and addressing these bottlenecks is crucial for facilitating the growth of your community. By removing obstacles and providing additional support or resources, you can help community members progress and unlock their potential.

Contribution Bottleneck: Empowering Members

If your community primarily focuses on user-to-user interactions, it's not uncommon to have a bottleneck between participants and contributors. This bottleneck suggests that your members may lack the necessary skills or access to make meaningful contributions. To address this, ensure that your community members feel empowered to provide support themselves. If you have a product-oriented community, evaluate whether there are any processes or tools excluding potential contributors. Engage with your community to gather insights and unlock growth opportunities.

Core Bottleneck: Improving the Contribution Experience

Reaching the core level requires significant time and effort, and only a small portion of your community will ever reach this stage. However, if there is a bottleneck here, it's essential to examine the contribution experience. It could be that the tools, processes, or people involved are creating a poor experience for first-time contributors, discouraging them from further engagement. By optimizing the contribution experience, you can increase the likelihood of members wanting to contribute again and foster a thriving core community.

Ideal Distributions: Finding Balance

A healthy community will have a relatively consistent difference in the number of members at each level. This indicates that members are moving up at their own pace and to their own limits. Strive for a balanced distribution to ensure a diverse and vibrant community.

Steep Onramp: Overcoming Skill and Cost Barriers

If your community is centered around specific knowledge or skills that require significant time or money to acquire, a steep onramp is expected. While there may not be much you can do to change this, consider ways to make those skills more accessible or affordable. Providing educational resources or mentorship programs can help members overcome these barriers and progress through the levels.

Shallow Onramp: Reaching a Broad Audience

A shallow onramp suggests that your community is progressing easily and quickly through the levels. This may indicate that your community is based on broadly held skills or interests. However, if you have a skills-based community, a shallow onramp could mean that you're not reaching as many potential visitors as you could be. Consider promoting your community more broadly to attract a wider audience and increase engagement.

Market Fit: Discovering What Drives Action

Achieving market fit is about understanding what makes customers need or want your product enough to take immediate action. It goes beyond usability, feasibility, and viability. Market fit is about finding the right balance between product desirability and real-life behavior. Through discovery work and understanding your target market, you can tailor your product, positioning, and messaging to resonate with potential customers.

Product Marketing: Connecting the Dots

Product marketing plays a crucial role in synthesizing the learnings from discovery work and applying them to create a smart go-to-market plan. By segmenting customers and understanding who might be better evangelists for your product, you can develop targeted strategies. Ask yourself questions like who your customers truly are, who is most likely to use and buy your product, and what messaging and channels resonate with them. By aligning your marketing efforts with market fit, you can create a sense of urgency and turn customers into raving fans.

Conclusion: Taking Action for Growth

To promote growth and build a healthy community, consider the following actionable advice:

  • 1. Diversify your community offerings beyond transactional support to provide value at all levels.
  • 2. Identify and address bottlenecks that prevent members from progressing through the engagement levels.
  • 3. Continuously improve the contribution experience to encourage first-time contributors to become repeat contributors.

By implementing these strategies, you can create a thriving community that fosters engagement, achieves market fit, and drives long-term success.

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