Insight Communities provide a platform that puts customers (both future and present) at the heart of your business. There is no set format when it comes to insight communities, their size and function will vary depending on what you hope to achieve, so here we will discuss the pros and cons of setting them up in different ways. One of these decisions is who should have access to your platform and is it better to have an open or closed community. 

Benefits of a Closed Community 

The majority of Insight Communities will be private, invitation only and commercially confidential. Most often this is in reaction to the plethora of open communities in the form of social media. It has taken most brands longer than they’d like to learn how to navigate, respond and leverage social channels. Whilst the commercial benefits of keeping consumers informed and responding to feedback are now understood, what is more difficult is using social media to form real insight and action points. How many likes warrants a new product being developed? How many shares warrants a referral programme?  

In public environments, trying to control the conversation can easily backfire. 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 respondents 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.  

Downsides of a Closed Community 

The most obvious downside with 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 anyoneAll of this has a time and monetary cost associated with it, where an open platform may attract more participants more easily. 

Another potential negative 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. 

Benefits of an Open Community 

An open community can be best utilised as a platform 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. 

Downsides of an Open Community 

As we have established, one of the core reasons that many brands set out to set up insight communities is to avoid the clutter of open platforms and have tighter control and thus be able to turn opinions into action. An open community can easily fall into the problem of being unfocused and will undoubtedly require more time in terms of moderation and may produce less insight.  

The way that you choose to set up your community will not only affect the methods in which you will attract participants but also the way in which you run and moderate it. If you are considering setting up an Insight Community and would like advice and guidance from our experts please get in touch, or download our free ebook.