When external events kill your community's engagement - Tom RossWhen external events kill your community's engagement - Tom Ross

When external events kill your community’s engagement

The past two weeks have been incredibly rough for me personally. Rather than give you all the details, this tweet sums it up:

I’m afraid that was why there was no new article for a couple of weeks.

Thankfully, I’m finally feeling back to myself, which is a huge relief! It’s like my brain has kicked back into gear today and it’s always nice to be able to stand without feeling like you’ve drunk 15 pints of beer (damn vertigo!).

Maxine (my wonderful wife) posted inside Learn.Community, letting our members know the situation with my health. We had to cancel some of our regular member events and given that I physically couldn’t look at a screen without the room spinning like crazy, I simply couldn’t be in there helping folk.

I was really touched by the dozens of kind, supportive messages from our members.

However, I noticed something else. Member posting dried up.

In fact, our community’s engagement was the worst I’ve seen since we launched.

Outside Events will Impact Your Community’s Engagement

Whilst this is partly because I couldn’t be in there sparking up engagement, we’ve actually seen very strong recently posting from members, without my direct involvement.

Therefore my assumption was that when the last post was ‘Tom is in hospital’, members didn’t feel comfortable asking for help with their communities.

It’s a fair assumption, and makes sense.

In fact, I’ve seen similar behaviour on social media when huge world events happen. If there’s a terrorist attack, war or much-needed social justice movement happening, then people are reticent to post about their own lives. I follow several newsletters that abstained from posting for a couple of weeks when the war in Ukraine began, as they didn’t feel comfortable sharing like usual.

Now, of course I’m not comparing my recent health issues to a catastrophic world event. However, disruptive events (in whatever form they come) will naturally disrupt engagement in your community, and that’s normal.

I think realising that allows me to give myself grace, and be less insecure and selfish.

If I share a tragic event with our members in future, I’d be surprised if they immediately follow it up with a slew of posts asking for help with their communities.

Equally, if everyone is glued to the news because of a world event, I need to stop feeling insecure thinking ‘why isn’t my community as busy as normal!?’.

Life happens.

Your community will often not be the most important thing in member’s lives, and nor should it be.

And if members go a little quiet out of respect for something happening in your personal life, you should feel grateful for their empathy, not insecure about a lack of engagement.

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