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Online communities 

Recruitment for online communities

What is your responsibility for ensuring participants continue to participate in online communities?

A common problem reported by recruiters is that they have recruited participants for an online community and because participants don’t participate fully, or drop out, clients will not pay for the recruits. Often this is made worse because the first time the recruiter knows of the lack of participation is at the end of the project when it is too late to remedy the situation.

To mitigate this kind of problem consider the following steps:

  1. Before recruitment commences for an online community confirm with clients how often will they update you on participants’ activities on the forum. Is there a trigger point when they will alert you e.g. the participant hasn’t joined the forum, the participant hasn’t contributed anything for two days?
  2. If you do need to re-recruit and the online community is already part way through always check if new participants will receive the full incentive, or if they will get a lower incentive i.e. the participant may only be able to take part in two weeks out of a three week project.
  3. Ask clients to share a copy or outline of the tasks that participants are being asked to complete including how many tasks and the frequency – e.g. is it daily participation or X number of tasks across a certain period. Determine whether participants can complete such tasks as and when or is there a particular time/day that they need completing by.
  4. Ask clients to copy you into their joining invitations so that you know when it went out and who it came from. If participants haven’t logged on at the correct time it is a good idea to re-check their email address was correct and that the joining instructions have been sent to a correct email address.
  5. If participants are encountering technical problems with tasks e.g. uploading photos/videos ensure the client has made it clear to participants who to contact – it will save them contacting you when they encounter problems.
  6. Be clear about your payment terms for online communities before you start recruitment. It is common in an online community that a percentage of participants will drop out. Agree in advance with your clients if they will need replacement participants and whether you can charge for replacements.
  7. Ask clients to report immediately if there are any problems with participation so that you can encourage participants or re-recruit.