What to expect from this paper

This paper is about taking a holistic approach to online communities and developing a mindset that obsessively focuses on the client end-game, rather than any fixed methodology. We explore what makes an effective online community; highlighting what works, and also some of the pitfalls (based on personal experience!). During the course of the paper we'll use four case studies from clients in diverse sectors to illustrate the key points.


Stakeholders want fast, cheap and accurate. They don't want to compromise, which is dangerous.

It leads to some practitioners offering approaches that hide their compromise by shouting about digital, or big data, or another fast-paced black box. Or they label superficial yet very fast reporting as 'agile', without recognising that it doesn't actually help make the business decisions it's been commissioned for.

The truth is that you can't just use one approach and hope to cover all the insight needs that stakeholders have. For example, you may have a community that's great for giving an overall picture of your customer base, but lacks the ability to provide an accurate view of a specific audience or group experiencing a certain need. And can a panel set-up purely for online research provide the nuance needed to understand deep-seated motivations?