Insight Community membership: Open or Closed?

You’re thinking of starting an Insight Community. You want to set up for success. One of the decisions you’ll need to make is about your membership and whether you want an open or closed community.

PROS: Closed Community 

Most Insight Communities are private, invitation only and commercially confidential. The argument is that if brands wanted to use an open platform to mine ideas and opinions then they have social media…which is not without its pitfalls. How many Likes warrants a new product being developed? How many Shares warrants a referral programme?  Its difficult to form any real strategic decisions from social media, and presenting new/unfinished ideas out in the open may mean your competitor snaps them up.

In a private community you have the opportunity to set expectations upfront, so members know the purpose of their participation is focused on impacting business decisions you are making. A private Insight Community allows you to more easily control and curate the conversation, to get to know the patterns and personalities of your members and moreover, you can control who those people are.

Detailed profiling allows you to build your community to include different segments and further develop your understanding of how to target and convert that group. It also provides real-time continuity of how that group are affected. The most obvious example would be COVID 19. If you conducted a segmentation exercise before COVID 19 hit, then you have no visibility on how this will have affected buying habits and brand perceptions until you conduct more research, where Insight Communities can track this almost instantly.


CONS: Closed Community 

Having a closed community is that it means you will have to attract and profile participants. This requires a smooth and hassle-free experience where useful data can be generated without alienating anyone. All of this has a time and monetary cost associated with it, where an open platform may attract members more easily.

Another potential issue with closed communities is that despite non-disclosure agreements and new technology enabling the blocking of screenshots, information may still leak. This is especially true in the case of active brand followers who are excited to share their ‘insider knowledge’ of what your company is planning.

"The way that you choose to set up your community will not only affect the methods in which you will attract members but also the way in which you run and moderate it. " Claire Reid, Client Director

PROS: Open Community 

Open communities are a great place for the crowdsourcing of ideas. By inviting collaboration and co-creation and product roadmap suggestions, you can assess common themes and unearth hidden gems from your customer base. The old adage that ‘no idea is a bad idea’ is not entirely true but where common themes and suggestions emerge from a broad selection of respondents, then this can justify the cost of further development.

As we mentioned earlier, having an open community makes it easier to attract respondents, and so this may be a good option where you want to canvas broad opinions before targeting your questions to more focused groups.


CONS: Open Community 

Sometimes open communities can become unfocused and will undoubtedly require more time in terms of moderation and may produce less insight.  Sometimes they fall into many of the same pitfalls that social media may have. While it may be easier to recruit people, you’ll also have to work harder to keep them engaged over the long term.

If you’re unsure why not give us a ring? We get how communities work and how they’re connected to the challenges your brand are facing. We have a great platform but we also have great people who can help ensure a smooth journey.

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