Improving The Sense of Community
The purpose of a sense of community survey isn’t to discover whether members feel connected to one another, it’s to identify the areas where you can have the biggest impact.
The end result of the survey is a scorecard broken down by four categories. You then design interventions to improve the scoring in the weakest areas. For example:
If members score low in membership, you might narrow the focus of the community (or create more sub-groups), solicit more immediate personal investments in the community, nurture in-jokes and reference past history, talk about more emotive topics, and initiate projects members can work on together.
If members score low in influence, you might provide members with more opportunities to run areas of the community, create groups for members who want to give their input into the community’s future, feature more contributions from members, and nurture stars among your audience.
If members score low in integration of needs, you might focus on turning active membership into a status symbol. You might introduce badges members will be proud to display, highlight relevant media reports on the community, share community success stories, create the community’s core values, and spend more time bringing the top experts in to the community in highly visible roles.
If members score low in shared emotional connection, you might create a shared history/timeline of the community, host online or offline events, introduce more bonding-related discussions, and increase the level of ‘fun’ discussions you initiate.
It’s hard to do everything well at the same time. So run the survey in your community and design your interventions to improve your community.