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Your online community won't die overnight. That never happens. Most communities end with members gradually drifting away.
There are some clear danger signals that your community is going downhill, these are a few to watch out for:
- No new posts in 24 hours. If your community goes an entire day (except Christmas) without a single interaction you’re on the brink of failure. Push the panic button. Engage heavily in one to one interactions to inject activity.
- Key members have gone missing. Name your top 10 members. Have any of them been posting less frequently recently? Why? Find out and adapt.
- Less members are joining. Community members are transient, they get jobs, move location, start families. You need fresh blood to keep the community active. Regularly measure the number of new members joining, when it dips (or slows) take action to recruit new members.
- A new rival community is rapidly gaining momentum. If you see a new community in your field rapidly gaining momentum, it means you’re not providing something these members need.
- Posts go unanswered. The lack of conversation is a clear flag something is wrong. When posts start going unanswered, people begin to drift away.
- Declining sector/topic/passion. UK-CT is a dying community for a video game which is over 10 years old. It’s entire audience has moved on to other games. It’s niche is dying, it didn’t stick with the players.
- Lack of friendliness. Whilst arguments are important, friendliness is more important. Do members seem less friendly recently? Do they lack familiarity with each other and previous community discussions? Do they know how the top members in a community are?
- Boring discussions. Subjective, but important. Do the discussions feel like they’re less interesting recently? Is there a poor quality of things to talk about?
Keep an eye for these signals and react aggressively when you spot one. Don’t be passive, by the time you spot a signal, it might already be almost impossible to reverse the problem.