Spend a moment to read this post (really do it).
If you’re a community professional, you’re probably in the top 1% of people by technological savviness.
You’ve participated in many communities, you intuitively get how platforms work, you know what different terms mean, and why certain rules have to be enforced.
You also probably have a big blind spot that hides a large percentage of your audience.
This is an audience, as the post above explains, who don’t quite understand how to participate in the community, who feel it’s like high school when they’re reprimanded for posting in the wrong place and feel frustrated trying to get an answer in the community when there is a perfectly good helpline available.
In our pursuit for ever more efficient processes and better technology, we’re increasingly leaving huge chunks of our audience behind.
At some point, probably around now for most of us, we would get far better results not from improving our processes but from figuring out how to engage the growing number of members in our blind spot.
This year, two clients have had almost 80% of their top users in the older demographic most community professionals completely ignore. Yet the members in this very demographic often have more time, motivation, and expertise than any other. They are the golden members hidden in our blind spots.
The largest opportunity for increasing participation in many communities today is learning how to engage the people who have never really participated in one before instead of fighting for the scraps of attention from the people who participate in many.
Some questions to get you started:
How do you meaningfully reach out and engage people of lesser represented demographics and hook them into the community? (literally, how do you make contact with them?)
How do you help someone who hasn’t participated in a community understand how the technology works without reading long, complicated guides?
How do you ensure enforcing important rules (posting in the right area) doesn’t feel like a reprimand but assisting members to get the best response or be seen by the most people?
How do you make the community feel like a place where someone, like the poster above, wants to hang out and spend time (instead of being forced to by complex customer support services).
Get comfortable recruiting from your blind spot. You might be as amazed as I have been by how much value there is there.