You see it on many corporate facebook pages today.
The social media manager discovered lighthearted, off-topic, discussions boosted engagement metrics. Now most Facebook pages are almost entirely disconnected from any real strategy in the pursuit of engagement.
This happens in communities too. You discover off-topic discussions boost activity and pursue more of it – regardless of strategy.
But once most discussions are off-topic, it becomes almost impossible to attract newcomers. Newcomers are attracted to valuable expertise shared by topical discussions.
So you end up with a shrinking group of familiar regulars (and a steady churn to zero).
Off-topic discussions are a strategic tool to build a stronger sense of community among members. This sense of community should facilitate more shared expertise. If it doesn’t, why do it?
Or to put it simpler; if you can’t engage people in the topic, off-topic discussions won’t save you.
p.s. Final week to sign up for our Strategic Community Management course.