Rhythm, Critical Mass, and a Ladder of Engagement

Rhythm, Critical Mass, and a Ladder of Engagement

In this post, we’ll weave together the following concepts to help you create a vibrant network of collaborators:

ladder of engagement is a way to think about how your members can move from simple ways to engage at the beginning to more valuable ways over time.

A regular group rhythm helps members know what to expect and it keeps them engaged over time.

Critical mass is the point at which you have enough members to sustain the community over time.  That number could be as low as 5 for groups where people already know each other, and it can be as high as 200 for online communities where members have not yet met.

Phase 1: Member Registration Opens

We recommend telling members that the first phase of building the community simply consists of members signing up and getting to know each other by browsing each other’s profiles.  You can mention that the circle will become more active once it reaches a critical mass of 50 members, so that they know there’s nothing else to do at this point.

When inviting new members to your new QiqoChat circle, think about how you can get them started moving up the ladder of engagement by identifying some simple activities which will get them started easily:

  • Create a free account. (1 min)
  • Fill out your profile. (2-5 min)
  • Browse info about other members (2-5 min) such as where they are on the map, what skills they have, what needs they have, and what they have to offer.
  • Set your notification preferences. (1 min)

Phase 2: Critical Mass

All the tools on QiqoChat are available for your members to use as soon as you create your circle.  You can turn them on/off if you like.

Once the community gets to critical mass, then we can encourage members to move beyond browsing each other’s profiles and to start moving up the ladder of engagement by trying the various tools:

  • Say “Hi” in the chat (or in the Slack community if you have set one up).
  • Ask a short question.
  • Browse articles and conversations.
  • Comment, create an article, or start a conversation.
  • Join a live event.
  • Host a live event.

Phase 3: Establishing a Regular Group Rhythm

All your members are different, and everyone is available at different times and on different days.

A regular group rhythm helps members know what to expect and it keeps them engaged over time.For example, if members know there is a certain type of recurring weekly or monthly event, they can put it on their calendar and they can join–even at the last minute–once their schedule opens up.

Here are two built-in features of each QiqoChat circle which helps establish a regular group rhythm:

  • Crowdsourced weekly newsletter to which everyone can add one announcement per week.
  • Daily digest emails which provide only the new top-level conversation starters.  People can then subscribe to if they are interested in following the topic more closely.

Additionally, if you schedule a recurring weekly or monthly live event using the audio/video tools that Qiqo provides, you will balance out the written tools mentioned above with an opportunity for people to speak with each other.


QiqoChat is a tool for peer-to-peer learning in online communities. Ten of our tools are free, and the two audio/video tools are 1¢/min per person. We look forward to seeing what you create!


This page is part of the Qiqo User Guide.

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