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Share Of Attention

Richard Millington
Richard Millington

Founder of FeverBee

Do you want to become the most relevant place about the topic or about the audience?

Most people choose the former. But think carefully for a second.

Imagine you want to run a community for investors. You can go through the process of launching a community for investors. You can identify their challenges and aspirations and ensure that the community is the most relevant place to solve their challenges and achieve their aspirations.

But do you think investors only want to talk about being investors?

That’s a very limiting view of their identity.

Can you imagine only talking with your friends about whatever brought you together? That friendship wouldn’t last long.

You want to share what you’re up to, how you’re feeling, what your friends/family are doing, what gossip you’ve heard, and a range of other events going on in your life.

This infinitely expands the kind of discussions you can nurture over time. They increase self-disclosure, build a stronger sense of community, and increase engagement. Perhaps most importantly, they increase the range of triggers that will bring someone to your community.

An investor might visit your investor community once a month with an investment question. The trigger here would be an investment problem. But they might not have that many investment problems.

But if the investor community is truly a community i.e. a place where investors can talk about what’s going on in their lives, then any major or minor event becomes worth sharing. They might want to share what they’re up to right now, a promotion they’ve received, a funny story from work, or a wide mixture of things. Each one of these becomes a trigger which can massively increase the number of visits.

This is the very genesis of community, but it also presents a big, huge, problem.

These kind of discussions are great for regular members, but often terrible for newcomers. Newcomers don’t know the group yet. They won’t want to share their news with strangers or get the latest gossip about people they haven’t (figuratively) met. Things get cliquey fast.

Two lessons here then.

1) Go beyond the topic and increase your share of attention. Your members don’t just want to talk about what brought them together. Make your community the place that forms friendships and lets people talk about whatever is relevant to them right now (this has the useful effect of making the entire community more relevant to your audience).

2) These discussions shouldn’t heavily feature to non-registered members or newcomers. Consider dividing them by user levels that newcomers can see after {x} number of posts or months of being a member or working on the community onboarding journey to gradually expose people to more non-topic posts.

If you’re competing to be the most relevant place about the topic, you’re going to be in an indefinite war with a lot of competitors. If you’re competing to be the most relevant place to whatever unique audience you’ve carved out from the group, you will be peerless.

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