Co-opting Existing Habits Into Your Community
In a recent audience analysis, a client’s target member mentioned they
felt overwhelmed by the barrage of e-mails demanding actions from different
We persuaded the departments to send the updates to the community
manager instead. The community manager created a simple, daily/weekly, action
This, to some extent, forced staff to visit the community to get the
updates. This also simplified the process. They could ask questions and receive
support from the departments on completing the task. Gradually, we built our
further discussions from here.
In internal communities, you face a time barrier. Your target audience doesn’t have the time to
participate in your community (at least, that’s what they will say).
You need to find the time. This means your audience typically needs to
stop doing something they already do. That’s a hard sell. A better approach is
to look for existing activities you can bring into the community.
If members blast e-mails out to large groups looking for help on an
issue, can you create a Q&A area within the community? Can you bring in a
large bulk of the one to one e-mails into the community, where everyone can
Can you do training and provide better reference materials through the
community? What if you uploaded your entire library of training videos to the
community and the audience can progress at their own pace?
Can you bring the calendar of work and social events into the
community site? Remove the old ones. Let members add their own events.
Can you create an online collaboration/progress tool within the
community and replace the existing one?
Can you bring in all the relevant industry news into one community
digest? Now members don’t have to browse dozens of sites.
The more existing habits you can bring into the community, the easier
it becomes to tackle the time issue. Better yet, if you improve upon the
existing system, it increases the perceived usefulness of the community.
Very often you don’t promote the new community of practice as much as
a relatively minor hook – such as an improved calendar of activities.
Don’t try to create new habits, coopt
the existing ones into the community.
We’re now accepting applications for our Professional
Community Management course (Sept 30 – Nov 8). This is an online course that will teach you
how to apply proven, reliable, science to build bigger, better, and more active
communities. If you want to learn more, click here.