The real value of community surveys lies in three areas:
1) Identifying trends over time.
Every community scores well in the answer to the following member survey question:
“Overall, how helpful or unhelpful do you find the community?”
You can probably see why. The people who don’t get value from the community stop visiting and don’t respond to the invitation to the survey.
So why bother even asking this question knowing we’re going to get a good response to it?
Because it lets us track success over time. Knowing the community scored 4.1 (out of 5) this year doesn’t tell us much. Knowing it was higher or lower than the year before tells us much more.
2) Identifying demographics of most engaged members.
One survey I issued recently returned demographic data completely at odds with Google Analytics data. Our most active members were significantly older than casual visitors.
The same people who complete surveys are also the most active members of the community. Community member surveys let you build detailed personas that understand exactly what members need in the community.
3) Identifying the 20% of features/content that matters.
The 80/20 principle applies to communities as much as anywhere else. Surveys let you identify which features or needs really matter to members. For example, if you look at this data:
From a strategist perspective, you should probably stop storytelling videos immediately and reconsider the time you spend on member profiles, events and blogs. You then invest that additional time, resources, and attention) into forums, groups and news.
Note: If you ask members to complete surveys, you should pay it forward by completing surveys yourself too. I recommend you complete this survey (now running for more than a decade) by our friends at the Community Roundtable.
Also check out Organising Communities by the team at Bind.nl