Why do some online communities fail to grow?

Building a community is hard. But do you know what is harder? Retaining and improving it. Running a successful online community isn’t as easy as it appears. It takes years of hard work and commitment to build a high-quality, engaging online community.

Some of the key reasons why online communities fail to grow

Not building Trust

Building trust is essential for a successful online community, and while excitement in everything you do can lead to better results, it is not essential. Listening to members and understanding their concerns is critical. Also, creators must ensure that user feedback is taken into consideration. 

The process of building trust starts here:

  • Respond to feedback, make changes, and communicate the results for effective trust-building. 
  • Allow every member to have a say in the development of the community and ensure that their voices are always heard.

Not having a wide range of activities for their community

If you offer a broader range of activities, you will increase member engagement. Analyzing the types of activities that different communities enjoy can assist you in planning the right activities for building a long-term community. A diverse set of activities is required for a healthy online community.

Some of the key activities include: 

· Wall conversations/chats

· Polls

· Interactive bulletin boards/chat groups

· Photo diaries

· Video diaries

· Interactive surveys

Not encouraging users to put time and effort

Communities are not short-term goals. Building a community requires time and effort. You should not take this for granted. It needs regular attention. Inviting your users to participate in community activities will encourage them to stay there and contribute.

Some of the best practices for users:

· Creators can encourage users to fill out their profiles completely.

· Create a competition for the best profile or best bio.

· Encourage users to devote sufficient time to do the task. Give a special prize to winners.

Not having an easy-to-use platform

The platform used for online communities should be simple to use for users. It should be intuitive, with welcome videos to help with basic orientation. Some users may be ‘tech-savvy,’ but for others, it may be a step into a new world. Create short videos to illustrate how tasks should be carried out. 

Keeping the community members engaged and involved

If you want a long-lasting online community, you must ensure that its members are engaged; otherwise, you will waste time recruiting new members. This includes both giving back and learning from them. You must engage them in a variety of meaningful activities.

Some ways by which you can keep your community members engaged-

1. Encourage your members to participate and have some fun.

2. Focus on community moderation.

3. Segment the user base to foster a thriving community

4. Be responsive.

5. Create fun content to entertain.

6. Have a friendly environment.

7. Thank your community members.

8. Reward contributors.

9. Welcome and encourage newbies.

Not allowing community members to express themselves

You should allow community members to express themselves. Members enjoy talking about things that are important to them, and you should always encourage this. Make it simple by providing them a platform to share their stories, experiences, and passions. 

Why do some online communities fail to grow?

Members are more likely to stick around if they feel heard, listened to, and respected. As a result, community involvement and building become effective retention tools. Creating a safe and encouraging environment for members to express themselves is critical because user-generated content is what drives your community.

There are several ways of encouraging users to create and promote content for you

  • Let the user become the voice of your brand.
  • Curating and showcasing community content energises and motivates users and can help attract new content contributors.
  • Remind people that they can subscribe to a forum thread so they don’t have to check back in every time there is a new post.
  • Every month, highlight a member based on the interesting content they’ve posted.

Missing out on exclusive content

Having outdated content doesn’t keep the members engaged. Always have exclusive content for community members. Communities expect you to go above and beyond to provide genuine and value-driven content.

Some ways to create community-driven content:

  • Create Memes
  • Conduct Polls
  • Share a milestone
  • Collect Opinions from Your Community.
  • Share secrets or hacks
  • Run a contest or giveaway

Community goals

Many online community initiatives have failed because of a bad strategy or no strategy at all. Their goal was to “have many members.” That is not a goal. Engaging with a relatively small but highly focused target group of good users improves retention, reduces churn, improves loyalty, and adds a lifetime value.

Not focussing on community members

Community members should be the top priority. Always focus on what community members want. Help them, educate them. Make them grow as you do.

· Mention below are some of the ways you can educate users:

  • Create webinars to showcase how your brand provides value, and then share them with your community to spread the word.
  • Create a section in your community for members to share their experiences and learnings so that their peers can benefit as well.

No community management

Communities are not self-managing. In the early stages of community building, daily proactive community management is critical. Community managers invite members, cultivate behaviors, establish social norms, motivate engagement, and guide the community toward its goals. A lot of effort and time goes if community moderators/managers are not present.

No moderation

Moderation is critical for keeping spammers out of your community. Make sure your community has a well-defined set of guidelines and that everyone is aware of them. You can include a link to the guidelines or explain them to the members during the onboarding process. If you wish to learn about community moderation, read our blog: How to moderate online community.


To be successful, communities must have a long-term vision. If things aren’t going well after a month, don’t give up. Continue to put in the effort, work hard, create content, and the users will come on their own. 

Engage community professionals before embarking on your community-building journey, and carefully plan to avoid these mistakes. Remember nothing is more rewarding than seeing your community members interact with one another and enjoy the community you have created.