Christopher Allen has written the best overview of online privacy I've read yet.
Grab a coffee and read it.
News stations and online publications do this a lot.
When a story is breaking in their field they add a 'breaking' tab.
They post updates throughout the day.
It's not difficult to do this in a community too.
If a major story is emerging this week, create a 'Breaking: subject" thread for members to discuss it and share the latest news/gossip on the topic.
But keep it to the biggest stories.
Posted on Thursday, 11 June 2015 at 15:33 | Permalink
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The most popular community sites are the least attractive. There's too much copy, no clear call to action, and few images.
The only common trait of almost all super-successful community platforms is they put function far ahead of form. They put the latest activity far above any images. They refuse to let anything, anything!, get in the way of members doing what they came here to do.
They don't worry if the sites are visually appealing. They worry if as much space as possible is given to showing what's new and popular in the community at any one time. They worry if members can easily see where to register and reply to discussions.
It's not easy to do this.
Your boss, your colleagues, your spouse, your friends, and acquaintances will complain the site doesn't look enough like the content sites they love.
That's a good thing. You're not developing a content site. A community site is going to look an awful lot like a community site - so crammed full of activity there's no space to waste on images.
If you feel yourself being tempted to add big, attractive, images, visit Reddit again.
Posted on Wednesday, 10 June 2015 at 15:30 | Permalink
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I'm going to share the second framework we use to guide our client’s work.
If you haven’t read last week’s post, click here.
There’s a sweet spot in the middle of our mix of desires. Those desires are what the brand wants, what communities want, and what individual members want.
Too often we miss the mark. We end up satisfying just two of these. That typically means creating content sites, failed community concepts, or communities that don’t deliver value.
To build a successful branded community, you need to hit the bullseye of this framework:
1) WHAT BRANDS WANT
Brands want one of seven things (even if they’re not sure about it).
You can find these in our ROI framework.
Brands create communities to keep customers for longer, persuade customers to spend more, acquire new customers, increase staff productivity (knowledge sharing/social capital), reduce costs (customer service/marketing), and fulfill the organization’s mission (non-profits).
When an organization creates an internal community, it’s ultimately to improve productivity through reduced duplication costs, better collaboration, better-trained and smarter employees.
Very often, the real goal is hidden behind the several layers. A brand might want to increase engagement (layer 1), to increase loyalty (layer 2), to increase higher levels of retention (layer 3).
If you only satisfy what the brand wants, you end up doing something very similar to a direct marketing campaign (or just spam).
2) WHAT MEMBERS WANT
Members are easier to predict in their needs. These begin with social and non-social needs, then tend to morph into more social needs.
These needs include solving problems they know they have, seizing opportunities they believe exist, pursue interests, enhance their own social standing or enhance their self-concept.
The big danger here is taking a problem you see members often have and building a community around it. That’s a problem because we all live inside our own bubbles.
We fail to realize that while it’s a problem we see a lot of members have, it’s not really a big problem in the context of their lives. Members don’t want to spend their spare time trying to solve it. The best problems relate to our bigger life goals rather than quick fixes.
3) WHAT COMMUNITIES OFFER
Communities exist for a reason. As an entity they want things. Those things relate to their very existence. It’s why we band together into groups in the first place. This fundamentally means protection/survival.
A more accurate and modern interpretation would be lower transaction costs i.e. it’s easier to perform these things in groups. This includes exploration of a topic together, mutual support (indirect reciprocity), great influence over our environment, and a sense of belonging.
WHAT HAPPENS IF ONE OF THESE IS MISSING?
If you look at the Venn diagram, it’s clear that the target to hit is quite small. That’s why most communities fail. Here are the three most common areas.
4) CONTENT MARKETING (NO COMMUNITY ELEMENT)
This is what happens when there’s no community element. There’s no reason for members to interact with each other, just with you. As a result, you end up renting attention at increasingly higher costs.
This doesn’t mean that social media and content marketing efforts fail. Many of them are successful. Likewise customer service channels where people can get instant help from each other are great too. But they don’t offer the longevity and scale of a community. Members come to be entertained or resolve a problem, once that problem is solved, the member leaves.
5) FAILED CONCEPT (NO MEMBER WANT)
This is nearly as common. The brand creates a community to tackle a problem members don’t really care much about.
I might visit New York often but a community about finding the best places to stay in New York won’t engage me, because it’s just not a big part of my life.
If you don’t tackle the member want (problem/opportunity/passion/social improvement) that fits into a broader life goal the community will never get off the ground.
It’s a failed community concept. The majority of failed communities never quite nail this community concept. It never takes off and gains momentum.
6) ENTHUSIAST COMMUNITY (NO BRAND WANT)
Enthusiast communities are surprisingly far more numerous and have a far higher success ratio than branded online communities. They succeed because they are founded by people passionate about the topic and cater solely to what members want (untainted by brand wants).
The problem for brands is they deliver no value to them. This is what happens when the brand doesn’t integrate what they do with the community. They don’t use the permission they have to speak with members in a way that makes members more likely to take the actions they want.
For example, if you want members to spread positive WOM, give members exclusive information to spread. If you want members to buy more, give members special discounts/added benefits. If you want members to stay members for longer, give them more access/exclusive hotlines/treat them like insiders the long and more frequently they participate.
If this doesn’t happen, the community tends to thrive but not benefit the organization at all (which happens far more often than we think it does).
7) THE SWEET SPOT
Then in the center we have the sweet spot that combines what members need, what brands want, and what community offer.
This is a community that has a concept based around a want members know they have and nurtures members to explore, influence, and support one another to co-create value with the brand, and uses the permission they have to interact with members in ways that increase value.
Let’s go through an example.
PIECING THIS TOGETHER
Cuban Coffee Capsules
Let’s imagine you work for Cuban Coffee Capsules and you want to increase customer retention in a highly competitive environment. That’s a clear goal.
If you talk to your customers, you’ll soon find they really don’t want to spend their spare time talking about coffee. A few aficionados might, but not enough to make it viable. Coffee just isn’t an important enough part of our day.
Instead you want to find their biggest challenges, their hopes/ambitions, what they enjoy doing, their life goals and build your community around it.
Here’s a simpler question. Why do people buy/drink coffee? Probably to feel more energized, awake, be more productive, or work for longer.
Any of one these might be a great community concept. No, caffeine won’t be the subject matter – but that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t need to be.
Now you know what members want, you need to satisfy it. One way to go about this would be to produce content about how to feel more alive, awake and energized.
You could recruit experts to share/produce material for you. But that becomes a content site – and the competition for great content is tough.
If anyone produces better content (or you run out of good ideas) you lose the audience. The level of activity will never scale beyond you producing content unless you recruit a lot of volunteer contributors (possible, but difficult) or add a community component to it.
That means making the activities, discussions, and content in the community orientated around mutual support, exploring the topic (promoting their contributions above your own), influence over the field, or creating a sense of belonging.
For Cuban Coffee Capsules, that’s most likely to be a place for members to explore different chemical/non-chemical ways to feel more energized or be more focused/productive.
The final part is to integrate the community with the business needs. If you want members to buy more, give members extra benefits.
For example, special coffee types, discounts on partner products, access to exclusive information (how it’s made etc), opportunities to visit Cuba etc. The more you add value here, the more members purchase.
Now you have a community where members get practical value, with a reason to participate, and you have a several ways to increase purchases. You also get to position yourself as the place that will make people more productive.
Clearly Cuban Coffee Capsules has it easier than you. They don’t exist. They don’t have to deal with all the internal battles and challenges doing the above entails. But these are exactly the battles we need to fight if communities are going to succeed.
Branded communities aren’t in a healthy place at the moment, but they definitely could be.
Posted on Tuesday, 09 June 2015 at 15:55 | Permalink
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Somewhere beyond platform features, being nice to members, and even metrics is the cutting edge of community building.
There's a few people, perhaps just a handful, who live on the edge.
They do incredible work turning insights from social science into huge wins for their community. They don't look for the 1% to 3% improvements. They look for the game-changing 30% - 50% - the sort of insights you can only extract from social science.
On November 11, I'd like you to join me as we go to the thrilling edge in San Francisco for the first day of SPRINT. This is the workshop we've been itching to host for almost two years.
I recommend you download and read the entire agenda here.
It might just be what you've been looking for.
The workshop is going to cover motivation, habits, cognitive biases, persuasive technology, nudges, reward theory, goal-setting, sense of community, self-disclosure, rhetoric and persuasive communication.
Last year we sold out at 110 places, this year we've reduced the size to just 40 places.
If you register before June 12 you will save $150 and receive:
You can buy tickets here.
Posted on Monday, 08 June 2015 at 17:43 | Permalink
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Communities can improve customer loyalty.
But so can lower prices, spending more to create better products, improved customer service, transparent business practices etc...
The challenge isn't to show that communities increase customer loyalty.
The challenge is to show that communities are the most cost-effective way to increase customer loyalty.
Likewise for customer acquisition, knowledge retention, reducing costs etc...
Posted on Friday, 05 June 2015 at 23:23 | Permalink
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Farmer's didn't invent the tractor, they were too busy farming.
When groups of people with similar backgrounds, goals, and experience get together they share small, gradual, improvements.
It probably felt great to discover a slightly better way to harvest crops (and share it with your friends), but it wasn't a game-changer. The tractor was the game-changer.
Real progress in any field comes from combining diversity of backgrounds, experience, goals, and skills. Or, to put it far more bluntly, stealing the best ideas from other sectors.
I suspect tactical psychology (turning psychology insights into big wins) is our tractor and we're the farmers.
On November 11th - 12th, we're hosting FeverBee SPRINT in San Francisco to find these big wins from the world of tactical psychology and turn them into game-changers for us.
We would love you to join us, but we also want you to help us.
We want to hear from a more diverse group of people than we find at most conferences. Yes, that means more women, but also more racial diversity and people outside the traditional group of speakers who can bring us fresh ideas.
That means finding people we don't already know who can explain how they use an insight from psychology to transform a community. If you know someone (or think you're a great fit) let us know.
Posted on Thursday, 04 June 2015 at 20:01 | Permalink
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Over the next few weeks, I want to share some of the models we use to grow communities and how you might be able to use them.
This model explains why members aren’t participating in communities and how to get them more engaged.
The secret to getting people more engaged in a community lies in engendering members with increasing levels of competence, autonomy, and relatedness (the tenets of Self-Determination Theory).
The more members feel
The more members feel they have improved their abilities since being a community member, feel increasing levels of freedom to act how they choose, and develop strong relationships through the community, the more they participate.
WHY PEOPLE DON'T JOIN YOUR COMMUNITY
The majority of your target audiences are amotivated about your community.They have absolutely no desire to join or participate. There four possible reasons behind this. They don't know you exist, don't care you exist, don't trust you, or have conflicts that prevent them from joining.
You can work to overcome each of these.
1) Do the people you are trying to reach even know your community exists?
The majority of struggling communities have an awareness problem. The people they’re trying to reach don’t know they exist. What percentage of your target audience will have heard of your community?
If it’s less than 10%, you have a big awareness problem. You can take three paths to overcoming this. First, have a more clearly defined target audience. The more clearly defined, the quicker you will grow. You can tackle specific needs and penetrate through existing social networks. You need an audience where you can reach at least 10%.
That means narrowing the focus to a group of people that meet two qualifiers e.g. accountants [qualifier 1] that live in San Francisco [qualifier 2]). If you’re just getting started, you want to begin with 50 founding members you've gotten to know through the CHIP process.
Take the time to create content, host events/activities, interview key people, and participate in existing communities. If you've done this and it’s still not working, you need to do more outbound promotional work. That means pitching story ideas and forging partnerships with groups outside of your network.
Co-producing webinars, events, and resources are a great way to do this. They provide the audience and you provide the useful material. Until you tackle this awareness problem, nothing else you do matters. No-one can join a community if they don’t know you exist.
2) Do the people you are trying to reach care that you exist?
If people know you exist but still don’t join, you usually have a value problem. Prospective members don't see a clear reason to join and participate. If your prospective members say they don't have the time to join or participate, they're really saying they don’t see value in the community.
We make time when we see the value. This is where nailing benefits that matter to members is important. Benefits come in two forms; sociable and non-social. Non-social benefits include solving big problems, offering new opportunities, and pursuing passions. Sociable benefits include enhanced status from being a member, not being left out, and satisfying ego needs.
You can test all of these with different landing pages or split-testing e-mail messaging until you find the most effective benefit. Your audience analysis will give you possible ideas, testing will tell you which is most effective. You need to test this on a large volume of people, not 100 members.
3) Do they trust that you can deliver on the value?
If prospective members recognise the value of the community but don’t join, you have a trust problem. Your members don’t believe that your community is the most effective means to get the benefits they seek.
Most of the communities created by brands achieve great awareness, sometimes deliver great value, but struggle to get over the natural distrust we have of organisations. You need to promote your success stories to non-members, create a sense of momentum, share data on current membership, undertake research (people associate research with reliability), and use symbols to communicate authenticity.
Your community can't be a place that offers a clear benefit, it has to be the best place to get that benefit.
4) They believe you but still won't join.
This happens when you're competing against existing communities. Members are unlikely to leave their existing networks and friends behind to join you. Many might see you as the enemy attacking them. They might personally not want to support a new 'player' disrupting the scene.
You can only tackle this by micro-focusing on building stronger relationships with fewer people. The more you peel away from existing groups the easier it becomes. You can work through the existing social networks of existing members.
Ask existing members to recommend other people they think should join and work your way through. Once momentum is clearly on your side, members will flock to you.
HOW TO GET MEMBERS TO JOIN AND PARTICIPATE IN YOUR COMMUNITY
Members tend to join and initially participate in a community for one of six reasons. Each needs a little explaining.
1) To tackle a problem they're aware of (or intuitively feel).
There are two parts of this. First, you need to tackle a problem that requires them to frequently participate. Single-topic problems don’t work well. Tackle a bigger life issues. That problem has to be part of a bigger puzzle.
This will usually be something that affects our health, wealth, or happiness. Members might ask about the best running shoes in a community about running shoes, but ask most questions in a fitness community.
Second, members must already know they have this problem and want to solve it. It’s almost impossible to make members aware of a problem they don’t already know about.
The problem must be something that matters to them. If you ask members about their biggest challenges and they don’t mention the problem, don’t build a community around this topic.
2) Take advantage of an opportunity they believe exists.
A growing number of communities are catered to helping members take advantage of an opportunity that may now exist. BackpackingLight is an example of this. Every backpacker knows there is new technology out there to lighten their backpacks, they just need a place to go for it.
Many members of our CommunityGeek join because they know they could be doing more to use psychology and data to grow communities.
Opportunities usually come from changes in the political, economical, social, or technological sectors (PEST Analysis). These create new opportunities people need to make sense of.
They usually are places where you want to do something quicker, cheaper, faster, or better. But members have to be aware of the opportunity first. You can’t create the opportunity, but you can use Google Trends to identify rising opportunities and encapsulate them as the basis for your community.
3) Pursue an existing interest.
People join communities if they want to learn more about a topic they’re fascinated by. Most hobbyist/enthusiast communities fall within this category.
Many brands try to create communities in this field but soon realise their brand isn’t nearly as fascinating as they might expect.
These communities are very hard to create. The majority of them already exist. New ones, provoked by PEST, may come about but these opportunities are rare and difficult for organisations to facilitate.
You can identify these by asking what % of a member’s free time do they spend engaged in that activity. Anything more than 3 hours per week might be a winner.
4) Be a part of a known exclusive group within the field.
We seem to be very much wired to join exclusive groups within our field. If there's an exclusive group, especially an exclusive group that most people in the sector know exists, we're very keen to join it.
Secret, exclusive, groups can still work but are less effective. The most effective exclusive groups are those most people know exist but can’t join. If you have an exclusive group, it’s a good idea to promote it. When you promote it, don’t just promote the composition of its membership too. List it on the homepage of that community.
5) Group norms – and fear of missing out.
Once a community has achieved critical mass and beyond, an increasing number of people join not to be left behind. This happens in communities such as Reddit and ProductHunt that achieve super high levels of growth and participation.
Soon everyone wants to join to ensure they’re not missing out. At this stage, it’s a good idea to promote the high levels of growth, success stories, and the community’s metadata. If your community is wildly successful, promote the success.
6) To satisfy personal ego needs.
A lot of people join a community to satisfy an immediate ego need for validation or efficacy.
They join to write a provocative remark. They aim to see an impact and know they have efficacy within the community and agency over their actions. Others join to share a useful piece of advice. They want to be congratulated and feel validated that they have expertise in the topic.
These are usually the least healthy communities. YouTube comments might be the most obvious example here. These are specifically the kind of members and activity you don’t want in a community.
SUSTAINING HEALTHY LEVELS OF COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION
At the very top are healthy levels of participation. This is where members participate for intrinsic reasons. The quantity and quality of posts will be higher from members that participate for intrinsic reasons.
These members will also participate for a longer period of time. When intrinsically motivated, members participate for genuine interest, enjoyment, or satisfaction of helping others.
3 MEANS TO INCREASE HEALTHY PARTICIPATION
Motivation theory has shifted a LONG way since Maslow looked at a group of rhesus monkeys and predicted (but never studied) what would motivate us. It’s shifted towards a field known as Self-Determination Theory; our level of competence, autonomy, and social relatedness affects our motivation.
If you want to move members from short-term extrinsic motivation to healthy long-term participation, you need to increase their sense of growing skill, autonomy, and relatedness. A big part of this is changing the messages you send to non-members/newcomers from those you send to existing, participating, members.
As someone participates in the community, they get better at the topic. As they get better they get at the topic, the more they enjoy it.
The more they enjoy the topic, the more they participate in the community. If you can increase the skill of members in your community, they participate more. Once someone has learned or solved one problem, you can guide them to other problems/solution that many members found useful.
For example, after a member has posted their first question, why not send them an automated message highlighting the biggest challenges facing members (along with places to find the solution). You might also ask members to share their best piece of advice/knowledge. This increases their perceived level of competence.
The challenge here is to design a relatively automated system (in large communities) or use a good CRM system (in small communities) that will prompts members to learn and share at the right level. As members become more advanced, you can guide them to places that are more technical/specific.
You can also set up an online resource that documents the best knowledge and ensures members that share great information can see it documented in an online wiki.
Autonomy is the freedom to act in line with one's true beliefs. This means being free from control such as being forced/told/co-opted to perform a task. Tools like gamification undermine this sense of autonomy.
As members participate more, we want to offer higher levels of autonomy that means greater freedom to do what they like. For example, this might mean having their own groups, columns, and powers within the community.
This isn’t quite the same as volunteering roles. Members might begin in relatively restricted roles, but as they participate more you need to give them greater freedom to do as they like within the community.
User levels is one option, so is letting members know when they have reached a level where they can have more freedom. You might also want to regularly be in touch with members to see if they like would take to take full responsibility for their own sections of the community.
This isn’t free labour; it’s freedom from your interference. This also means showing support for the actions members have taken. Unexpected praise also works very well here.
Relatedness is the number of high-quality relationships we develop within a community.
The more people we not only recognise, get to know, but feel genuinely close to influences our level of participation and satisfaction within the community. This is also where the ‘sense of community’ comes into play. The greater the sense of community, the more members participate.
As members join and participate, you need to ensure they get to know other members of the community. There’s plenty you can do to increase the sense of community. One useful option is to have a growing system for members to get to know one another. Having members meet in person is a useful idea, as is finding ways to encourage higher levels of self-disclosure from members.
It’s good to have a place for members to share their biggest achievement, biggest challenge, and other problems.
If you’re managing a sub-1000 MAM (monthly active members) community, you can do much of this manually. You can adjust the appeal and concept, individually contact members to make more skill-based contributions, offer more autonomy, and introduce them to other members.
If you’re managing a 1000+ MAM community, you’re going to need design systems that involve autoresponders and automatic filtering/integration with CRM systems to do this. That’s going to take a lot of time and a lot of trial and error.
But it’s also the key to ensuring that every possible members becomes as active as they can be.
Posted on Wednesday, 03 June 2015 at 18:48 | Permalink
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Almost every community manager claims their members don’t participate because they don’t have enough time.
Teachers, lawyers, doctors, accountants, administrators, working moms/dads, and even pensioners have fallen into this category.
You might have data to prove it. You can produce surveys showing hundreds of members highlight a lack of time as the number one reason they don’t participate.
This is known as looking without seeing.
If hundreds of teachers say they don’t have enough time, create a community for people to save time.
Imagine you created a community for teachers to share their time-saving hacks.
You can create the entire community concept around the very thing members appear to want.
The very reason members claim they don’t participate is usually the best place to begin creating a community concept.
Posted on Tuesday, 02 June 2015 at 18:27 | Permalink
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We're still looking for someone to head up our consultancy practice.
You might be interested.
You will be responsible for helping clients grow their communities, growing a team of community consultants, developing community strategies, creating and teaching workshops, and introducing best practice at community events around the world.
You should already be:
If you refer someone our way who we hire, we'll pay you $1000.
If you're interested, e-mail me (skip the CV/resume, just tell us why you would be perfect).
* If you're outside of the UK, you will be responsible for your own taxes/admin/legal responsibilities.
Posted on Saturday, 30 May 2015 at 20:17 | Permalink
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