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Can increased Member Engagement help to reduce feelings of loneliness?

As a nation, we are moving towards a much greater recognition and understanding of mental health. With many people now using the internet to form networks, friendships and attachments, it is unsurprising that questions are being asked about real world loneliness.

In response to this, researchers from Manchester, Exeter and Brunel Universities designed an online survey to assess the British public’s feelings and experiences of loneliness, as well as their attitudes towards social interactions and community. ‘The Loneliness Experiment’, supported by the BBC, was available to people over the age of 16. It aims to gain results that will help us better understand the concept of loneliness and how it relates to internet usage, health and the different groups within society.

When taking the online survey, participants were asked questions based upon their own interpretation of loneliness, ways in which it could be reduced, the qualities we believe ourselves and our friends to have as well as questions surrounding your internet usage such as if the internet is used to ‘stimulate your curiosity’ or to ‘help pass time’.  

So, why does this research study link to our ideas surrounding member engagement you may ask? Good question.

Interestingly, when taking the survey, we noticed some similarities between the types of questions used and those that we use to capture the softer reasons for what ‘member engagement’ can look like for the organisations we work with. One way we measure this is by looking at the emotional and social feelings and behaviours of members and how these factors influence their engagement with a member organisation. For example, we may gain information on why they choose to be a part of this organisation and in what way they feel it benefits them as individuals by exploring to what extent members feel they have a sense of belonging with the [organisation]. Motivations such as ‘belonging’, ‘being part of a community’ and ‘building new relationships’ share parallels with the suggested solutions to loneliness, such as ‘joining a club’ or ‘introducing yourself to new people’.

Another similarity we see are the parallels between why people claim to use the internet (in the Loneliness Survey) and what people feel they get from being a member of a professional association. Having access to something that stimulates peoples’ interest is valued, as it gives them something they can take an interest in, either passively or actively depending on the nature of the relationship and the level of interest they have.

This suggests, if we are interested by something, we can feel inclined to immerse ourselves and be more involved in that community which in turn can build social relationships with others who hold similar interests. For some, the value gained by feeling connected to a wider network of like-minded people is invaluable, as it enables them to feel part of something bigger and gives them a real sense of connectivity, companionship and cohesion.


For more information on The Loneliness Experiment, please visit this link:

This entry was posted in Membership, Market research, tagged Membership, Insight, Engagement, Member benefits and posted on May 8, 2018

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