Month: September 2014

Hosting Great Events: Two Questions To Answer

September 16, 2014Comments Off on Hosting Great Events: Two Questions To Answer

We've recently sold our 200th ticket to FeverBee's SPRINT

If you still want to come, you can sign up here.

We're proud of this. It reflects a social-science driven approach to promoting the event.

This aims to answer the two big questions prospective attendees face: 

  • Who's going?
  • What will I tell my boss?  

Who's Going? 

People primarily go to events where people they admire and their peers will be in attendance. 

For SPRINT, we began by ensuring every top VIP in the community space will be there. We individually reached out to Google, airbnb, Twitter, Amazon, Wikipedia, Fitbit, Facebook, Community Roundtable, Lithium, Discourse etc…

Then we tried to ensure that the friends of attendees would also be in attendance. This often meant individually reaching out to people and helping them sign up. You get more value (and enjoy the event more) if your friends are there. 

This is true of any type of event. Before you announce the event, be sure you have a big list of popular attendees signed up. You can use this with your friendship groups too. 

What Will I Tell My Boss?

The second challenge, for offline events, is what will the participant tell their boss.

Your boss doesn't care about you socializing. They have a limited budget and have one question to answer

Is this the cheapest way to make this employee better at solving the challenges we face?

This means the event has to directly resolve the challenges the attendee faces and do so in a unique way. 

For SPRINT, we achieved this in two ways. First by hosting a guided workshop with the top experts dedicated specifically to solving the challenges attendees bring to us.

Second, we make the event unique by working with speakers to focus on new ideas. We want disjointed, non-narrative, talks that tell people specifically what to do to improve their community (by improve, that typically means increase the size or level of activity in the community). We reject anything that smells of high level theory and allow only specific tactics. 

Events are big, risky, scary things. We hope that we've worked hard enough to provide you with all the value you need to attend. If you want to learn who will be at SPRINT, click here

Which Of These Two Motivational Appeals Do You Think Was Most Effective?

September 15, 2014Comments Off on Which Of These Two Motivational Appeals Do You Think Was Most Effective?

Here are the results of a relatively simple experiment. 

A client was launching a new community.

They disagreed with us on what would motivate people. So we ran an experiment with 147 prospective members. We split them into two groups.

The first group were invited to become founding members of the new, exclusive, community. To join, they had to be approved through an application process. They took a quasi-pledge to contribute great content every week, interview the top people in their field, and get 5 people to join. If they didn't do this, they would be removed.

Let's call this the 'work hard' group.

The second group were invited to become founding members of the new, exclusive, community. If they joined, they would get a free book, discounts on the client's products and services, and a free product that had around $15 value

Let's call this the 'get freebies' group.

Rational economic theory would predict that the get freebies appeal should be more successful than work hard appeal.

Of course, that's not what happened. 

The work hards had a 50% conversion rate, with 28 of the members still actively participating after the first month.

The get freebies had a 19% conversion rate, with just 2 members actively participating after the first month. 

How can we explain this? 

When you think of founding anything, what do you think of?

It probably conjures images of bold pioneers building houses, digging ditches, planting seeds, banding together to create something special.

This is what prospective members are buying into when they agree to found a community. They wanted to work hard to create something special. By incentivising the act of founding with freebies, you're undermining the term. 

This is why you have to be VERY careful about the motivations you use. 

Another example is a word like exclusive. If we say it's exclusive, you have to pay, and you get a free book, we find the conversion rates are lower than if it's just exclusive and paid.

Why? Because you change the formula.

In the first instance we understand 'money = exclusivity + book'. We don't know what exclusivity is worth, but we know what a book is worth. The cost of a book is around $15 to $20. That's now the anchor price you've created for exclusivity. Not many people care about a $15 to $20 freebie. 

However, in the second instance, it's 'money = exclusive'. That exclusivity is whatever exclusivity means to that individual person. It might remind them of times when they were accepted into an exclusive group, or times when they were rejected from an exclusive group. Either way, it presents a huge psychological reward far in excess of a $15 to $20 book. 

The experiment didn't just show that the wording you use has a huge impact upon whether people join and participate (although it does!). It shows that the specific motivation you attach a behaviour to really, really, matters. When you start dangling incentives around motivational appeals you can easily undermine the appeal itself. 

Or take the headline of this post. I'm confident it will be my most visited post of the week, possibly the month.

Why?

Because people want the challenge of guessing between two appeals. They want to feel smart. If the post had been titled "Free Advice on Motivational Appeals" or "Be Careful About Using Incentives, Motivational Appeal Advice" it wouldn't attract the same people. 

The specific appeal of the headline is people to get challenge themselves. That's more motivating than passively consuming more free information.

It's not rational. At least not in the economic sense. But it is important to understand how people interpret the words you use and adjust your messages accordingly. 


On October 29th to 30th, the world's top 250 community professionals are going to SPRINT in San Francisco. Will you be one of them?

http://sprint.feverbee.com

The Irrelevance Of Friending

September 12, 2014Comments Off on The Irrelevance Of Friending

For the majority of communities, the act of 'friending' someone makes no difference upon their level of participation. 

These are some exceptions. Communities based around the follow feature, for example. You have to follow people to see anything in these communities. 

These are rare.

For most communities, trying to encourage people to add each other as friends is a waste of time. If you can remove the feature, remove it. 

It will come as no surprise that real friendships aren't developed by such technical innovations. They come from frequent shared contact, shared history/activities, and reciprocated self-disclosure. 

Sadly, for academics, these are more difficult to study. 


On October 29th to 30th, the world's top 250 community professionals are going to SPRINT in San Francisco. Will you be one of them?

http://sprint.feverbee.com

Be More Scared Of Politeness Than Frivolity

September 11, 2014Comments Off on Be More Scared Of Politeness Than Frivolity

Study after study shows that developing a strong sense of community leads to every possible benefit you want. 

It leads to higher levels of customer retention, repeat purchases, premium purchases, and advocacy.

It leads to higher levels of knowledge exchange among employees (or customers).

It leads to higher levels of employee retention and productivity. 

To build a strong sense of community you must accept that frivolity. 

A few years ago a group of new friends and I attended the Chess-Boxing World Champions (yup). It's a silly event, but led to plenty of in-jokes amongst us. We jokingly share the latest chess boxing news with one another. When asked how we all met, we can say through chess-boxing. We reference it often. 

It's all frivolous, but it has helped us feel a strong bond with one another.

If you really want to construct a strong group identity, you're going to have to allow the frivolous stuff. People are going to talk and, yes, makes dumb jokes. They're going to go wildly off topic and express emotions at times. They're going to do all the things that you and your friends to when you get together. 

…and this is exactly what you want!.

This is all a good thing. Don't worry about this. This is healthy.

The danger isn't that they do this, it's that they don't do it.

It's that they stay in the polite space where they interact, but only at the superficial level – always concerned never to do or say anything that might upset any member of the group.

Scott Peck labelled this the pseudocommunity stage. In this phase, members never really express themselves honestly, build real relationships, or feel a strong sense of group identity. 

Politeness may look good and frivolity may look bad. But for building communities, the opposite holds true. Reject the former and accept the latter. 


On October 29th to 30th, the world's top 250 community professionals are going to SPRINT in San Francisco. Will you be one of them?

http://sprint.feverbee.com

Making Your Community Addictive (Free Video)

September 10, 2014Comments Off on Making Your Community Addictive (Free Video)

In June, I was fortunate enough to speak at David Spinks' CMXSummit in New York.

If you missed it, you can watch the video below (on repeat!)


A few weeks later I was lucky enough to speak to a group of 1400 inbound marketers at MozCon on building a powerful sense of community. You can find the slides below.

 
If you're interested in us speaking at your event, you can now visit the updated speaking page.


On October 29th to 30th, the world's top 250 community professionals are going to SPRINT in San Francisco. Will you be one of them?

http://sprint.feverbee.com

The 4 Elements of A Terrific Community Workshop

September 9, 2014Comments Off on The 4 Elements of A Terrific Community Workshop

I've sat through dozens of workshops.

The majority of them are a tragic waste of time, money, and potential.

A great workshop should do four things

1) It should make every attendee smarter and fosters new skills.
2) It should build powerful, valuable, connections between participants.
3) It should directly solve the challenges participants face.
4) It should create energy and a sense of possibility to achieve more. 

When was the last time you gained these four things from a workshop?

FeverBee SPRINT's Workshop

As part of FeverBee's SPRINT conference (Oct 29 – 30, San Francisco) we're taking a different approach to achieve these four goals. 

If you want a workshop where you sit, consume information, and leave feeling good about all the worksheets you've collected, this isn't for you. 

If you want to come armed with problems/questions you want answered, advice for other participants, to devour knowledge and immediately apply it to your community, this will be perfect. 

 

What to expect

During the workshop, Caty Kobe (FeverBee's Head of Training) and myself will take you through advanced aspects of building communities.

By the end of the day, you will have mastered

1) How to use proven psychology to increase activity in communities. 

2) How to select, develop, and optimize any community platform.

3) How to develop a powerful sense of community among members. 

4) How to convert newcomers into regular, active, members of the community. 

In addition, we're going to devote almost half the time to resolving your particular challenges. 

At each stage, we'll push you to get to the bottom of whatever challenge you face within that topic. 

You can also expect great food, special guests, a few surprises, and a few fun activities.  

If you sign up for the workshop, which we hope you will, you will leave with a set of actions and connections that will immediately help you develop your communities. 

We hope you will join us and can't wait to drill deep into your community efforts. 

You can sign up at: http://sprint.feverbee.com for $495 this week

Communicating With Your Members: A Few Tips From Social Sciences

September 8, 2014Comments Off on Communicating With Your Members: A Few Tips From Social Sciences

Community professionals can learn a lot from political science, mass communication, and propaganda theory. 

Among them is how to communicate bad news. We know not to send the lamb into the slaughterhouse. But how do you communicate any news? How do you change opinions of a group? How do you interact with a well-informed member and gain the required changes?

There are a few rules here. These depends upon three things:

1) The recipient's level of knowledge about the topic.

2) The recipient's existing relationship with the messenger.

3) The recipient's existing position (and it's divergence from the message).

If the recipient's level of knowledge about the topic is high, present both sides of the argument. Begin with their side of the argument. Specifically state their opinion. Highlight the facts that should alter their position. Don't ignore their side of the argument. 

If you have a good relationship with the recipient. You can be more personable, more informal, hit emotional notes, and include humour. If you don't, don't. 

If the recipient's existing position is far from the messenger's position, moderate your position. Aim for small, incremental, changes in opinion. Don't target big changes. This takes more time. 


On October 29th to 30th, the world's top 250 community professionals are going to SPRINT in San Francisco. Will you be one of them?

http://sprint.feverbee.com

Event Or Interest?

September 5, 2014Comments Off on Event Or Interest?

Divorces, marriages, births, graduations are all events. 

It is possible to build communities for these topics. But the member turnover is high. The sense of community is low. It's largely a game of demographics, niching and promotion. 

You need to have enough people to sustain the community, a specific enough niche to become established, and enough promotion to ensure people find the community (keeping away the spammers is also a problem).

The hardest part is retaining great knowledge members have shared. 

Football (soccer), chess, accounting, Lady Gaga are all interests. Our interests change around once in a decade. 

It's far harder to build a community around events. Far better to find a related interest. 


On October 29th to 30th, the world's top 250 community professionals are going to SPRINT in San Francisco. Will you be one of them?

http://sprint.feverbee.com

The Power Of An Enemy (Or Threat)

September 4, 2014Comments Off on The Power Of An Enemy (Or Threat)

One after another, SEO professionals took to the stage and attacked Google. 

Google is working in mysterious ways.

'It broke authorships!'

'It's changing our rankings!'

'It's punishing and attacking us!'

You might think this breeds an atmosphere of enmity. SEO is, to some extent, a zero-sum game. If I rank first for "online communities" then you can't.

This should build a deep well of distrust and suspicion. 

Yet the opposite happens. It's the common enemy that brings the crowd closer together. Of the events I've attended, few (if any) had the sense of community felt by those at MozCon. They're all in this together. They're all the little guys being picked on by a bigger enemy (an enemy they need to survive, no less). 

When you have a common enemy that is perceived to be constantly attacking you, when you can genuinely perceive yourself as the weaker guy in the fight, you will find you feel a strong connection to others in that same position. You feel a greater sense of unity with them.

It stands to reason then, that if we can create a plausible enemy to our group – someone whose beliefs or actions conflict or threaten our own efforts – if we can make the group feel we are being constantly attacked by a bigger threat, the sense of community should significantly increase. 

That's not easy to do (it's risky too). Yet we see this is what Apple did to IBM and then Microsoft. This is what fresh, healthy, foods do to McDonalds.

It works best when it's something large, in your field, and is a threat to your audience.

You can gradually drop in negative references to the enemy in content, discussions, and other material. It's less difficult than you might imagine. 


On October 29th to 30th, the world's top 250 community professionals are going to SPRINT in San Francisco. Will you be one of them?

http://sprint.feverbee.com

Diagnosing Why Less People Are Joining Your Community

September 3, 2014Comments Off on Diagnosing Why Less People Are Joining Your Community

Christopher made a bunch of changes to his community and now hardly any members are joining. He's dropped from 5 members joining per day to 1 (on a good day).

How do you diagnose what happened? You look at the following metrics:

1) Are less people visiting your site?
Multiply users by % new visits. If this number is in decline, it could be a change that altered the search ranking or killed inbound links. Compare where the traffic is coming from before and after. Is it a drop in organic search, direct visits, or another source? It's usually a decline in search rankings. 
 
2) Are people clicking on the option to register
Track the unique visitors to the registration page of the community. Is it up or down? If down, it's that people simply aren't finding the place to register anymore. Make this more visible on the page (or use a clear prompt to join).
 
3) Are they completing the registration form?
Track your own database here or visits to the post-registration page (make sure you have one). If it's down, it's probably a case of reducing the information the form asks for. 
 
4) Are they opening the confirmation e-mail?
This might be harder to track, you can try using an autoresponder tool like aweber (not perfect) or including an image that is brought from the site. If it's down, it's probably that the from: line or the subject line causes it to either end up in the spam filter or they're simply deciding not to open it. It might be that the confirmation e-mail takes too long to arrive.
 
5) Are they clicking on the link to register? 
Now use your analytics to check they are actually clicking on the link to register. Your database can also show you this. 
 
At some point, something down this line broke. In this case it was the SEO rankings caused by rewriting content on the site. 
 
It's most likely to be at the beginning of the funnel. Fortunately, optimizing the conversion funnel is relatively easy to fix.


On October 29th to 30th, the world's top 250 community professionals are going to SPRINT in San Francisco. Will you be one of them?

http://sprint.feverbee.com

FeverBee SPRINT’s Reward System – Invite Your Friends, Come To London

September 2, 2014Comments Off on FeverBee SPRINT’s Reward System – Invite Your Friends, Come To London

Half the people that have signed up for FeverBee SPRINT came via your referrals. 

We've decided to reward people doing this. 

If you invite your friends, colleagues, blog/website readers, mailing list subscribers, customers, clients, and others we're going to reward you with the following:  

Get 3 people to attend, and we'll give you:

  • A free conference ticket

Get 5 people to attend, and we'll give you

  • A full event ticket (workshop + conference) 
  • Free, indefinite, access to CommunityGeek
  • A 10% discount code to invite more people

Get 8 people to attend, and we'll give you

  • A full event ticket (workshop + conference) 
  • Free, indefinite, access to CommunityGeek
  • A 15% discount code to invite more people
  • Access to our community management course

Get 10 people to attend, and we'll give you

  • A full event ticket (workshop + conference) 
  • Free, indefinite, access to CommunityGeek
  • A 20% discount code to invite more people
  • Access to our community management course
  • We’ll fly you to our SPRINT Europe event in London this February

Get 15 people to attend, and we'll give you

  • A full event ticket (workshop + conference) 
  • Free, indefinite, access to CommunityGeek
  • 25% discount code to invite more people
  • Access to our community management course
  • We’ll fly you to our SPRINT Europe event in London this February
  • We’ll pay for your accommodation for SPRINT Europe in London this February

Get 20 people to attend, and we'll give you

  • A full event ticket (workshop + conference) 
  • Free, indefinite, access to CommunityGeek
  • A 30% discount code to invite more people
  • Access to our community management course
  • We’ll fly you to our SPRINT Europe event in London this February
  • We’ll pay for your accommodation for SPRINT Europe in London this February
  • Silver-level sponsorship for our SPRINT Europe event 

Instead of tricky tracking systems, we're going to work on the honour system. 

Simply e-mail [email protected] with a list of people that signed up because of your referrals from today onwards. 

If you have a blog/media site/customer list and want your own tracking code to use, let us know and we’ll set one up just for you. 
 
Thank you for all the support so far. We couldn't be more excited about the event. 
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