Creating Guardrails For New Community Behaviors

You can find plenty of communities that invite members to do something non-standard like:

  • Share your story.
  • Share your experiences.
  • Create a case study.
  • Post a best practice.
  • Add your photos to the gallery.

Most of the time, these requests fail and members keep posting short discussion posts as before.

The problem isn’t that members don’t want to do it, but because any new behavior creates a number of questions which the request doesn’t answer.

For example, members will have questions like:

  • Where do I even begin?
  • How long should my story be?
  • What does a good story look like?
  • Should it be written in the first, second, or third person?
  • What are some examples I can learn from?

If you want a new behavior. You need to design the experience to be more encouraging. This would usually include:

  • Highlight a specific kind of story/topic you want to feature each month and give a time limit for members to submit them.
  • Be clear about the length, style, tone, and content of the story.
  • Share examples (you or your confederates have created) which members can follow.
  • Let members submit drafts for feedback/ideas.

Once these things are up and running they tend to take on a life of their own. Members can see what’s been published in the past and copy each one. The problem is getting these things up and running in the first place.

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