Month: September 2017

You Really Don’t Need A Big Launch

September 28, 2017 Comments Off on You Really Don’t Need A Big Launch

StackExchange launched to just a few hundred friends of the founders.

LinkedIn launched with 112 friends of the earliest employees.

Facebook launched with a few hundred people on the Harvard mailing list.

Kaggle launched to a few dozen people from random mailing lists.

All are now worth millions (if not billions) of dollars.

So, tell me again why you need a big launch?

Webinar: Become Indispensable To Your Colleagues

September 27, 2017 Comments Off on Webinar: Become Indispensable To Your Colleagues

In the past six months, I’ve interviewed dozens of engagement professionals.

Among them are an elite few who came into a new company and steadily gained the resources they needed to build the community they wanted.

Some now have a dozen-strong community team and a seven-figure budget.

All but one of them accomplished this by reversing how we typically approach building communities.

They didn’t get a lot of engagement and try to make people care about it, they found out what people cared about and then supported those goals. They made themselves indispensable to their colleagues.

On October 5th, I’d like you to join me in a Vanilla-sponsored webinar where I’ll explain the processes and tactics they used to achieve this. (Hint: this isn’t about presenting ROI numbers to your boss).

We’ve worked with and trained over a thousand community professionals through our courses today. I guarantee that learning how to get more resources is the easiest and most valuable thing you can change about how you work today.

The webinar is free, click the link below to sign up:

Launching A New Online Community, Overcoming The ‘chicken and the egg’ Problem.

September 25, 2017 Comments Off on Launching A New Online Community, Overcoming The ‘chicken and the egg’ Problem.

Andreas shares the problem of getting to critical mass for a new community.

It’s a classic chicken and the egg problem. How do you get people to join a community when there is nothing there.

If you’re launching a new community, you have five approaches here:

1) Build the audience first and rush to critical mass. This is where you build up a big audience first via a blog, a customer mailing list, a big event, or some other channel. You then launch the community and try to grow quickly to critical mass (usually around 300 posts from 100 active members) members. The benefit is your concept is part-tested by the virtue of building a community. Most of the successful communities you see followed this route (see the CHIP method).

2) Be exclusive. Send exclusive invites only to the very top people in the field and expand slowly. The top people are likely to join because of the story it tells about their status and having an exclusive place to access the best knowledge. Facebook may be the best example of this.

3) Be hyper-focused. Start with the smallest possible niche within your field you can target and grow from there. Craigslist, for example, began as a mailing list of social events for software developers. That’s a really easy niche to dominate.

4) Be First. If you can move to a new platform or identify a new sector early enough, you can usually build a big audience relatively quickly. You’re the only game in town – and you’re exciting.

5) Try to grow slowly and be lucky. You can launch without an existing audience and simply hope you can mention it elsewhere and hope people join. Almost every failure we see followed this route. This is also, sadly, the approach most people take.

If you don’t intend to follow one of the first four approaches here, I’d suggest you reconsider your strategy.

Turning Objectives Into Strategy [FeverBee Explains 3/6]

September 24, 2017 Comments Off on Turning Objectives Into Strategy [FeverBee Explains 3/6]

This is the 3rd post in our Strategic Community Management series.

Around 90% of the strategies I’ve reviewed don’t contain any genuine strategy at all. Most contain a bucket list of tactics to spur more engagement.

Most of the problems come when we convert objectives into strategy. There are a few principles to get right here.

Principle 1: You Need One Strategy Per Objective

If you’ve read part 1 and part 2, you should now have a strategy statement like this:

(this is just an example, you should have your own)

Each one of your objectives here needs its own strategy.

You would use a different approach to get your top 200 members to send detailed reports from getting regular members to share their biggest frustration. Each audience has different motivations and will feel differently towards whatever you want them to do.


Principle 2: A Strategy Is Not A Strategic Plan

A strategic plan begins with your goals, and then objectives, and then strategy, and then tactics, and then an action plan and then measurement and improvement.

We can break this down.

  • The goals are what you get (e.g. reduced support costs).
  • The objectives are what you need people to do to achieve your goals (e.g. get people to ask and answer questions in our community).
  • The strategy is the emotion you use to get them to do that (e.g. amplify pride in answering questions others can’t and frustration in finally getting your questions resolved).
  • The tactics are how you make people feel that emotion (e.g. give members badges and rewards they can be proud of).
  • The action plan is when and how you will do it (e.g. Mark will sketch designs for the badges on Thursday) etc…

A strategy is just the middle part of a strategic plan.

This is important. Most ‘strategies’ don’t actually contain the strategy part. They jump straight from the objectives to the tactics. This leads you to test a collection of tactics without any strategy to guide them. There is huge scope to improve your strategy here.


Principle 3: Strategy is About Emotions (not facts)

Strategy is the persuasion part of your work.

Strategy highlights the emotional levers you’re going to pull to get members to do the things you listed in your objectives. A strategy shouldn’t explain what you’re going to do, but what you want members to feel.

Think about all the levers you can pull to get your best members to share detailed reports with product engineers. For example:

  • A sense of power (“I can influence the product!”)
  • A sense of frustration (“I can finally fix the problem that’s bothering me!”)
  • A sense of jealousy (“other people can contribute to reports, why can’t I?”)
  • A sense of feeling respected (“I’m one of a few people who can send reports!”)


There are plenty of emotional levers you have access to, the challenge is finding the right one.

Until you can answer why members will do the behavior you outlined in the objective, you shouldn’t even be thinking about tactics.

Most people decide the tactics first and then crowbar in a strategy around them. It doesn’t work that way.

A great strategy makes all your tactics more effective.


Principle 4: Don’t Guess What Emotions Work, Do The Hard Research

Create two lists. On one list add people that perform the behavior already. On the other list add the people that don’t.

Now interview people on each list in person (or on skype) and ask them why they do or don’t perform the behavior.

Ask how performing that behavior makes them feel.

Most people will say what they think at first (“I think it’s great to share knowledge with the engineers”). That doesn’t help, you need to ask them how it made them feel (“Um, well, it made me feel important…like my opinion mattered”).

Keep notes on the specific words they use to describe how they feel about the behavior today. Also, keep a rough sense of the intensity in which they express the emotion.


Principle 5: Look For The ‘Best Performing Cluster’

Not everyone will pinpoint the same emotion. Some will struggle to express the real emotions (like pride, jealousy, fear). So look out for the emotions which either appear the most often for each group or those which are expressed with the most intensity by members. This helps you prioritize the emotions you will use.

It’s an iterative process, but by this point you should be able to have a clear emotion for each objective. For example:

These are just examples, but you get the idea.

Strategies are often very personal to the specific group. For example, fear of being scooped among subject matter experts. By this point, you should have a clear strategy to achieve each of your objectives.


Principle 6: Telling an authentic story (that’s true!)

Your strategy is essentially an authentic (true) story you’re going tell to members through your tactics.

(This is a lesson I learned from my internship with Seth Godin many years ago).

Those tactics must be authentic. Let’s imagine your strategy is to make members feel an exclusive sense of importance. You won’t succeed just by telling members how important they are. You have to genuinely make them important.

You need to give them things that make them important, like a direct line to your engineers (a tactic).

Likewise, you can’t tell members to feel good about sharing their frustrations. You have to create that story where they can easily collaborate to share frustrations and know they will be resolved.

What you do is far more important than what you say.

Your strategy is that story, based upon an emotion, that will guide every tactic you try to execute.


Strategic Community Management Course

If you want to up your strategy game, I welcome you to sign up for FeverBee’s Strategic Community Management course.

It’s the best course we’ve ever created and has great reviews from almost every participant who has ever taken it.

The course will help you

  • Set the right goals.
  • Win internal support.
  • Establish clear objectives (and KPIs).
  • Identify the right strategies for your audience(s).
  • Select the best tactics.
  • Develop your action plan.
  • Measure and improve the results.

If you think you can create a better strategy, you should sign up.

The fee for the course is $675 USD and enrollment closes on October 9th (or when all places are taken).

Learning To Build Internal Alliances That Work

September 21, 2017 Comments Off on Learning To Build Internal Alliances That Work

More than a dozen people I’ve interviewed for the new book mentioned having to protect their community from requests from marketing.

At the same time they want marketing to better support the work they’re doing.

Can you see the problem? If you act like a guardian of your community against your company, you can’t expect much support. But if you look to find ways the company offer things your members want, you start to build useful relationships.

If you want marketing on your side, find how you can support their goals.

The easiest is turning members into advocates. There is plenty that members can do to support marketing goals here:

  1. Leave positive reviews of your product/services on relevant sites.
  2. Help recruit/advertise jobs.
  3. Write testimonials or participate in case studies.
  4. Drive referrals.
  5. Create and share content about you (photos on instagram, blog posts, etc…).
  6. Share news and promotions.

Anything that helps plead the case of your organization to outsiders is advocacy.

But you shouldn’t ask all your members to do one of these. Different objectives work better for different members.

Your objectives might ask your top members to do the most time-consuming tasks, your regulars to take a simple action, and lurkers to do anything that will only take a few clicks.

A real-world example from a friend of a video game series I helped out:

Community Strategy Statement

Goal: Drive huge online buzz for each new release of the game during launch month.

1) Get top members (top 100 participants in the past 6 months) to learn how to create short, slick, videos to share on YouTube, Twitch, and other video channels.

2) Get top members (top 100 participants in the past 6 months) to create popular videos featuring the game upon release.

3) Get regular members (avg. 3 to 10 posts per month) to post positive reviews of the game upon release.

4) Get lurkers/low-activity participants to share promotions on social media.

Each objective naturally led into an emotional strategy.

Top members were perfectly willing to learn how to create short videos when we made it exclusive and hired one of the world’s top short video creators for videos to train them.

Regular members were happy to leave positive reviews simply by being asked nicely and thanked graciously. We sensed they wanted to give back to the game.

Lurkers and low-activity members received points for each promotional item they shared on their social channels which could be exchange for in-game currency.

The key lesson is none of this would have been possible if we had continued to act like guardians and shut down any intrusion into the community. Instead we helped marketing achieve their goals and more importantly perhaps, helped our members get more from the community in return.

Don’t act like a gatekeeper, get involved and figure out solutions.

Remember our Strategic Community Management course begins on October 9th. If you want to stop chasing engagement metrics and start driving valuable results, I hope you will join us:

Strategy – Getting Experts To Share New Information

September 20, 2017 Comments Off on Strategy – Getting Experts To Share New Information

Park and Gabbard have identified one of the most powerful triggers to get experts (or subject matter experts) to share new information; fear of being scooped.

Once you have set the community objectives, you need to decide what emotional levers you’re going to pull to get people to perform the action.

A common mistake here is to focus on the outcome rather than the process.

Yes, there’s a good chance that members of high status want to increase and maintain their high status. That’s not a strategy though, that’s an outcome of the strategy.

A strategy is zeroing in on a specific emotion that drives them. It’s almost always harder to identify this emotion than you might think.

Fear of being scooped is a potential strategy. It’s emotional and it leads into future tactics you might use.

What might amplify the fear of being scooped among top experts?

  • News or content about people being scooped.
  • Special badges or commendations for experts who get the information first.
  • Interviews with members ‘on the cutting edge’ of the field on how they were able to share the information first.
  • Tagging important new knowledge shared as [scoops]

If you’re in doubt, you can even ask for examples or times when they have been scooped and what drives their fear. This often leads into the very tactics you can use.

Now instead of trying a Smörgåsbord of tactics related to status, you’ve got a specific emotion you want to amplify to get the outcome that’s valuable.

To really understand community strategy, sign up for our Strategic Community Management course.

9 Principles Behind Successful Online Community Strategies

September 19, 2017 ,Comments Off on 9 Principles Behind Successful Online Community Strategies

This is part 2 of our 6-part series on community strategy (click here to read part one).

If you like the series, consider signing up for our Strategic Community Management course.

Enrolment is now open and the course begins on October 9th, 2017.

This is going to explain the key processes behind establishing community goals and winning internal support.

About half of our clients ask for our help to set the goals for their community. The following might help.

This is a big topic, so I’ve divided it into 9 key principles.

Principle 1: Engagement Should Never Be A Goal

Many of the community and professionals we’ve worked with and trained over the past decade used to make the same mistake. They believed if they could get the engagement metrics high enough, they would finally get the support and respect they needed. They spent their time trying to get more engagement and reporting on engaging metrics.

The brutal truth is the engagement metrics will never be high enough to get you the support you need.

Chasing more engagement is a fools’ game and condemns you to the engagement trap.

Not many people working in communities today have the right goals. Setting the rights goals should be a transformational process for your community and your career. By the end you should be working towards something you know you can achieve, that other people support and that you know is valuable.

Principle 2: Goals Come From Your Stakeholders

Far too many engagement professionals set the goals for their community and then toil endlessly to win support for them. I know one director of community who has spent five years of her career trying to get internal support for her community’s goals.

The key to career success is to reverse this.

Don’t set goals and try to win support for them from colleagues. Find out what your colleagues already support and use these as your goals. It’s a lot easier to swim with the current. If you don’t want to fight every day to get support, begin with goals people already support.

Principle 3: You Don’t Truly Have Support Until You Get More Resources

Ignore what other departments say, you only truly have support when you get more resources you didn’t already have.

Your organization could commit far more to the community than they do today. For example:

  • The sales team can drive new prospects and clients towards it.
  • The PR team can promote your community.
  • The HR team can embed it within newcomer orientation for all employees.
  • The content team can test content in the community.
  • Engineering or R&D can give community direct feedback into the product.
  • The CEO can participate in the community.
  • Marketing can give-away free products to top members.
  • The web team can feature it more prominently on the website.

Imagine each department as an engine cylinder you need to fire up to support your community. It’s your job to get each department supporting the community with more resources. This is going to require building powerful alliances where you come up with the goods (more on this later).

Principle 4: The Best Goals Come From Extreme Listening

Make a list of your stakeholders (colleagues, your boss, CEO, CFO, CMO, dir. Marketing, HR, IT, and anyone else who might be interested in the community). Interview each of them to understand their priorities. Ask them what they spend their time doing, what they hope to achieve, what they’re afraid of.

Pay careful attention to what they say and how they say it.

What do you they talk about excitedly and what do they sound bored by?

Attend the meetings of other departments too. Learn how they think and what information they prioritize. Almost everyone we interviewed who has won internal support regularly attends the meetings of other teams

Your goals will come from the above information. Remember goals are personal. Most goals will be those which:

  1. Save time.
  2. Save money
  3. Avoid making mistakes/looking bad.
  4. Achieve superior outcomes/better performance.
  5. Impress boss/colleagues.
  6. Feel more important and respected.
  7. Feel better about the work they do.
    (generally in this order)

You should be able to build a clear list of goals, for example:

Person(s) Wants/Fears
Your Boss
  • Wants to show improved member satisfaction.
  • Wants to be seen as someone who ‘gets things done’ in an organization that’s typically slow.
  • Worried that other people will get in her way.
Legal rep.
  • Not have anyone ‘go rogue’.
  • No surprises.
  • Wants people to appreciate what the risks are.
Boss’ boss
  • Worried about PR disasters and negative inputs reaching the exec team.
  • Wants to see better media coverage of the company.
Dir. Marketing
  • Wants to be able to reach as many people as possible with a message.
  • Worried about declining reach on traditional channels.
  • Wants the company to look innovative.
  • Present new technology at events.
  • Find ways to save money.
Team members
  • Be seen as valuable by their boss.  
  • Get to work on projects they’re most passionate about.
  • Not have their time wasted.
  • Not have new priorities dumped upon them.
  • Have a say in new ideas the organization will develop.


Principle 5: Avoid The Big, Noble, Goals Trap

Everyone believes that delighting customers, breaking down knowledge silos, and cutting costs are a good idea.

Everyone will agree these are good goals and they want to support it. But few of this group will help you because the goals are too broad and too distant to help you now.

Base your community goals in the day-to-day reality of your audience. What are they working on today? What do they need help with? What are they struggling with?

Principle 6: Use The Stakeholder Matrix To Prioritise Goals

Now prioritise this group by their interest in the community and their influence over it. Adopt the goals of those at the top of the list. For example, above, the goals might be:

  • Answer every possible question our best customers have. (stakeholder: boss)
  • Identify and resolve possible PR problems before they become major problems. (Boss’ boss)
  • Increase reach of promotional messaging. (dir. marketing)

[see goal framing here]

Notice each of these is relevant to goals right now. This is a key part of getting support.

If you can’t tackle all 3 (and 3 is a lot), focus on just the goal for whomever has the highest influence.

This framework will also guide how you interact with each of your stakeholders. You shouldn’t send the same messages to legal as you would to your boss, for example.

Principle 7: Build Stories To Support The Goal

Now you have a goal, you need persuasive stories to establish it. Anytime anyone asks you about the community goal, you should state the persuasive goal and then use a story to illustrate it. This means using Evernote, screenshots, or any system you like as a story capture system.

Your stakeholder framework will show what kind of stories to look out for.

Using the above example, you would capture stories of the top members who were happy they got their elusive questions answered quickly, of potential PR crises avoided, and the number of people your community was able to reach.

Data helps, but it’s only the backdrop to the narrative.

Remember stories have a beginning, middle and an end. Make them fun and interesting. If you don’t have stories of your own, start looking at other comparative communities. Don’t stop until you have at least a dozen great stories. Match each story to your community goals.

Principle 8: You Are Not A Jedi

No combination of words will win you the support of sceptical colleagues. What you bring into the meeting is far more important than what you say in the meeting.

If you want the PR team to promote you, bring them five incredible case studies they can promote.

If you want the sales team to help you, bring them a list of 20 useful leads.

If you want the engineering team you help, bring them valuable feedback they can immediately use. etc…

Success is going to mean building alliances where you have to give support to get support.

Figure out what the community can give to different people and departments within the organization.

Principle 9: Keeping Support Isn’t Binary

Support isn’t binary. People leave and priorities shift.

You need to set aside a big chunk of your time (at least 30%) to building and maintaining internal support.

This means attending meetings, taking colleagues out for a coffee, and finding new ways to bring value to other groups.

Community Goals

Your community goals will guide everything you do in the community.

Your goals determine what platform you select, how you set the platform up, what you ask your members to do, how you motivate them to do it, and what you report internally.

Setting community goals and winning internal support are two parts of the same process.

You should, if you follow these 9 principles, find that you can finally stop trying to fight for support and take a deliberate approach to getting the results you want.

Strategic Community Management

If you found this or the last part of our series useful, please consider signing up for the Strategic Community Management course.

The course will transform how you approach your community, help you escape the engagement trap, and guide you to deliver exactly the kind of results your organization needs.

And the fee is only $675 ($1100 if taken with Psychology of Community).

I think that’s a fair bargain.

How Do People Feel When They Visit The Community?

September 18, 2017 Comments Off on How Do People Feel When They Visit The Community?

You’re not going to spend much time in a place where everyone complains.

This a challenge for customer support communities. People visit, complain, get a response, and leave.

Why would they want to visit the moan zone again?

This is true for functional communities too. If people are only sharing serious (but dull) questions and getting serious (but dull) answers, that’s not a place you would choose to spend much time. You might visit when you have a problem, but that’s about it.

If you want people to choose to spend more time there, you need to make sure people feel better about themselves while being there. Folksy probably does this better than most.

This means focusing on the positives, showing success, having places where members can highlight and celebrate each other’s achievements.

There are limits to this, but even within the most serious of professions, you can change the emotion people associate with the community from one of boredom to at least one of curiosity (as Figure1 have done so well).

Consider carefully what emotion you want people to feel when they visit your community and make sure that’s what you’re projecting. As a rule, people avoid misery and seek out joy.

Use your pinned posts and menu of discussions to make sure it reflects the right emotion.

Where Should The Interactions Be?

September 17, 2017 Comments Off on Where Should The Interactions Be?

Someone asked if the best place for interactions was on the forum?

Or should they be in comments on news posts?

Or via in-person meetups?

Or through social channels like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat?

The answer is quite simple. What kind of interactions best suit your strategy?

For example…

If your goal is customer support, you almost certainly want to be answering questions on social channels and possibly on a specific forum platform too. This allows you to answer as many questions as possible and document the best information for others to easily find.

If the goal is innovation, you probably want feedback on news posts and possibly a reddit-style platform that lets people propose and vote on the very best ideas.

If the goal is emotional support/building relationships, you probably want to encourage and tag answers in social and invite discussions in a private, highly-moderated, anonymous, space.

If the goal is retention, you probably want a platform that makes it easiest to share and read the best tips or advice about the product. If you don’t have that, you might lean towards comments on advice shared.

If the goal is community advocacy, it makes sense to use a dedicated advocacy platform – complete with leaderboards, tasks you can set, and simple methods of tracking rewards earned.

So many of the decisions we wrestle with every day are solved once we have a very clear strategy in place.

You’re going to be pressured to be everywhere and respond to everyone. Resist that pressure.

It sounds obvious, but you’ll get a lot of mileage out of using the right platform for interactions in the first place.

FeverBee Explains Series [1/6]: Community Strategy – Setting Community Objectives

In the next few weeks leading up to the launch of our Strategic Community Management and Psychology of Community courses (enrollment now open), we’re going to breakdown some of the key principles behind our most successful community strategies.

Our goal is to distill the key lessons from our work with hundreds of communities (Facebook, Google, SAP, Novartis, Oracle, The World Bank, Wikipedia, Greenpeace etc..) into key principles that might help you rethink your strategy and approach.

These aren’t going to be short articles. If you’re looking for quick tips, sure-fire ways, or listicles, you’re going to be disappointed.

The first principle of our six principles is how we overcome The Objectives Problem.


The Objectives Problem

Your objectives are what you need members to do to achieve your goal.

Your objectives should read quite simply as “get [target audience] to do [x]”.

Don’t confuse these with goals.

Your goal is the result of the community (e.g. keep our best customers for life), objectives are behaviors you need members to perform to achieve those goals (e.g. get our top experts to share their best tips).

The above is an example of what we would call a strategy statement.

In two sentences it describes a clear goal and a clear logical means of achieving the goal.


The Perennial Problem

If you’ve ever tried to set behavioral objectives, you will have come across the perennial problem.

Do you let members do what they want to do or do you try to get them to do what you need them to do?

If you let members do whatever they want, you will get a lot of engagement that doesn’t help you much.

A bunch of people talking isn’t very valuable (as many organizations are discovering today). Only specific kinds of discussions are useful.

However, if you force members to do what you want, you risk driving members away to places where they can do whatever they want.

Most people decide that some engagement is better than risking no engagement and build a community solely around what members want to do.

This is a mistake. It sucks you into the engagement trap, where generating as much activity as possible becomes your sole goal.

It’s hard to escape from the engagement trap, but you can avoid it easily enough.


Revisiting Your Strategy Statement

Imagine your community goal is to increase search traffic to your company’s web properties.

A common strategy statement might be:

Goal: Increase search traffic to our community.

Objective: Get members to create content which attracts search visitors.

You might then send out messages asking members to create content via email, automation rules, direct messages, or your web copy.

If you’ve tried this before you will know not many will take action.

Can you guess why?

Imagine this from your members’ side. To write a great article that helps you they would need:

  1. Relevant experience they feel they could write about.
  2. Plenty of time to create this content.
  3. To be open to criticism and to believe their content would make an impact.

What percentage of your audience meets that criteria? Probably not many. Perhaps 5%?

This is why we have rampant participation inequality.

In most communities, 95% of the target audience can’t perform the behaviors you want. But you can change that.


Divide Into Groups And Stretch Behaviors

You overcome this problem by dividing your community into sub-groups (usually by the level of activity) and setting stretch behaviors.

This means setting objectives which help you achieve your goals without asking for something they aren’t likely to do in the first place.

If you break your community down into segments (for example, top members, regulars, newcomers, and lurkers), you can study each and see what behaviors they are most likely to perform.

For example, some members can help promote content to increase search rankings, others can update and suggest improvements to content, others can highlight what they want to see etc…

All of this still helps you achieve your goal.

A revised strategy statement might be:

Goal: Increase search traffic to the company’s web properties.

Objective 1: Get the top 50 content creators to write better quality articles.

Objective 2: Get the middle 50% of participants by activity to update and suggest improvements to existing articles.

Objective 3: Get lurkers to vote and share their favourite articles.

Now we’re only asking people to do things that they’re likely to have the expertise, confidence, and time to be able to do based upon what they’ve done already.

Using these specific objectives we can develop our strategies.

For example, we might use exclusivity and set up a VIP class that only the top 50 content creators can attend.

We might embrace excitement and organize an ‘edit-a-thon’ for regular members to update as many articles as possible with new information (or at least point out where they might be out of date).

We might use curiosity and share a list of the most popular articles each week and ask lurkers to like or share their favourite.

This isn’t a comprehensive list, but you get the idea. Once you know what your objectives are you can take a focused approach to achieving them.

This is how you develop a community that drives clear results without driving your members away.


Gathering and Using Insights From Members

Let’s take another common example.

An organization develops a community to solicit feedback and drive innovation.

This current strategy statement might be:

Goal: Use community feedback to improve our service.

Objective: Get members to give us feedback on our services.

Eugh!! Can you see the problem again? How many members will have the expertise, confidence, and time to give detailed feedback? Not many.

So let’s divide our audience into three categories again and set behaviors each of them is likely to undertake, but still supports our goal.

A new strategy statement might be:

Goal: Use community feedback to improve our service.

Objective 1: Get our 200 top customers to send direct reports to engineers about what they would change.

Objective 2: Get the middle 30% of members to share their biggest frustration with the product.

Objective 3: Get lurkers to vote on changes they would prioritize.

Now again we have three separate objectives each catered to something the audience is more likely to be able to do.

You can now develop unique, emotive, strategies to get each of them to perform that behavior.

Giving top customers a direct line to engineer might be one option.

Creating an ‘emergency response’ zone for regular members to share their biggest frustration might be another option.

Letting lurkers rank their priorities in a survey or on the site might give them a sense of influence.

You get the idea. Once you have the objectives, you start to uncover the kind of strategies to match.


You Should Have A Clear, Specific, Strategy Statement

Far too many organizations we’ve worked with were pursuing engagement as a sole goal and hoping engagement would prove valuable.

We try to steer them away from that by focusing on a clear goal and specific, valuable, objectives targeted at key audiences.

One of the tasks we ask our course participants to do is to complete and get help with their own strategy statement. Try it yourself.

Goal: The goal of this community is [valuable result]

Objective 1: Get [target audience] to do [x]

Objective 2: Get [target audience] to do [x]

Objective 3: Get [target audience] to do [x]

If you can get the objectives right, you will find everything else you try to do becomes a lot easier.

Even better, you will find you can get more results from the existing members you already have.

To learn more about our two courses, click the links below:

Strategic Community Management

Psychology of Engagement

A Dangerous Sign

September 13, 2017 Comments Off on A Dangerous Sign

StackExchange makes an important point:

“if everyone using your technology knows everything about it, that means your community isn’t growing. A healthy technology environment includes a stream of newcomers that are learning the basics, as well as experts testing the platform’s limits.”

If you’re not getting as many questions, you’re either not getting enough newcomers or not getting experts testing the limits of the topic.

The experts want the cutting edge, new ideas, and advanced topics to explore.

The newcomers need a safe space to ask beginner-level questions.

Which groups are you excluding?

Changing Community Concepts Is Emotionally Difficult

September 12, 2017 Comments Off on Changing Community Concepts Is Emotionally Difficult

A close friend has been wrestling with a community that’s been trundling on for two years.

There is some activity, but it’s barely growing. There isn’t much sense of community.

We recommended two years ago to focus on a tiny slither of the audience and cater to their unique needs. But he couldn’t force himself to do it. It would’ve meant:

1) Admit you may have been wrong about the topic (to both colleagues, your boss, and your members).

2) Make major changes into what the community is about and who it is for. That involves design costs and explaining to a large group of members they were focusing on a smaller group.

3) Be sure that the change would work, or he would be left with an even smaller group now.

These are common fears. There are ways you can ease them.

You can test different concepts as webinars, Facebook groups, or private channels first.

You can check what kind of content and discussions seem successful.

The temptation is always going to keep pushing ahead with what you have now and hope things change. But it never will.

The best predictor of tomorrow is what happened today. Unless you want every day to be like today, you need to make that change. You need to work on something that at least has a chance of a big success.

If not, what are you doing with your community…and your career?

It’s never easy, but it’s definitely best to make the brutally tough decision and then work like hell to make it a success.

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