Going Beyond Thank You, Changing Member Behaviour

Every time a member makes makes a great contribution to any type of social group, you have an incredible opportunity to increase the quantity and quality of future contributions.

Too often, we thank them. Gratitude is nice. It feels good. They might appreciate the gratitude – but it doesn’t change their behaviour or encourage future contributions.

Worse still, if your thank you feels forced, generic, or is similar to a message you’ve used for a member who has made a far poorer contribution, you will reduce the likelihood of that member making more or better contributions in the future. And today, most of our thank you’s feel forced.

We need to stop thanking members.

Members don’t create great content for your gratitude. They create great content to help the community or achieve a level of status within your community. Every time they create content, they need to know that the content rapidly helped them achieve one of those two goals.

Instead of thanking a member, highlight the impact the contribution has made to the community. Ask for a further related contribution. Tell the member about other issues members are wrestling with and how you think they could really help. Highlight how popular the contribution has been compared with others. Be really specific in explaining how the extra effort they made to create the contribution resulted in the extra impact upon the community.

Alternatively, highlight how it’s increased the status of the member. Tell the member how you’ve noticed they’re fast becoming one of the top people in {your} community.

Now they begin to past-align their actions towards becoming one of the top experts in that sector. They participate more and at greater volume. You’ve used psychology to change their mentality. That’s an incredibly powerful and valuable thing to do.

It’s polite to thank members. It feels good to thank members. The recipient might even like being thanked. But we’re in the business of using psychology to change behaviours. There is a huge opportunity to change behaviour after every single contribution a member makes. I really hope we take advantage of it.


  1. Steven Hermans says:

    Totally guilty here, and never thought about it twice. :neutral_face: Going to try and implement this. As people post more and more, thank you starts to feel like a stock response, even it is heartfelt.

  2. Nick Emmett says:

    Yeah me too to be fair, but I’m a sucker for saying thanks - guess it’s just the way I was brought up. I do, however, try to follow it with something more strengthening, like connecting to someone with similar thoughts and ideas, or digging for more info, or highlighting the value it’s bringing to the community. I also often follow up with a private message in various situations: i.e. if it’s someone’s first post and it’s a belter; or if I’ve noticed someone posting more and more and adding value each time for example.

  3. Richard Millington says:

    To be fair, I often still do this myself.

    I think it’s one of those things you need to actively catch yourself doing to change it.

    I’m not saying that thanks you’s are bad. There’s just usually a far bigger opportunity here to create new behaviour which is in line with what we really want.

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