2 years ago I worked with a very capable, personable, and friendly community manager.
Let’s call her Sarah.
Sarah wasn’t an expert in her field, but had the traits to be great at building communities.
Her first email out to her community read something like:
I’ve just been hired to replace (name) as the new community manager here!
I’m delighted to be working with you all and can’t wait to meet you in person.
I’ve noticed we’ve never had a place to share what you’re working on. So I’ve started one here.
Tell me your name, what kind of work you’re doing, and how I can help.
If you have any questions, reply to this address.
Speak to you all soon!
This email was short, enthusiastic, and direct.
If you follow the tips out there, this is exactly the kind of email you would write for your audience too.
Sarah referenced someone they already knew, she demonstrated her passion, and she created a place for people to introduce themselves.
But this email killed any credibility she hoped to gain with the audience.
So what happened?
The problem is she was dealing with a group of technical experts working at a high level within this organization. This isn’t how this group speak to one another.
The message screamed ‘not one of us’ and ‘low priority’ at a time when they were keen to connect with high value people like themselves.
The tone of the email is wrong. The call to action was wrong. It didn’t reflect authority and credibility.
Sarah followed all the free tips she could find and wrote an email that killed her credibility
We Have The Tips, Now To Focus On The Execution
We’ve conducted endless interviews, surveys, and met up with dozens of you over the past year.
One of the biggest challenges is this; you’re following all the free tips you can find and still not getting the level engagement you want.
We’re paying thousands of dollars on platforms every year, just as much on staff costs, and it’s not driving the level of engagement we need.
The problem isn’t that we need more free tips, the problem lies in psychology.
A Lesson From Seth Godin
Back in 2008 I did an internship with Seth Godin in New York.
I wasn’t alone, there were interns working virtually too.
We spent a lot of time planning, strategizing, and breaking down each other’s plans to rebuild them better.
One day Seth wrote something that stuck with me.
I’ve lost the quote, so I’ll paraphrase:
‘Doing strategy and blue sky thinking is fun. But it’s a tiny portion of what makes us successful.
Ultimately it’s the empathizing, persuading, influencing, and cajoling people which brings success.
If you can’t do this, you’re probably not a community builder’
This is as true today as it was back in 2008.
We Never Talk About The Biggest Challenges
All these free tips aren’t helping us increase engagement.
Many of you have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to boost engagement and you’re still not getting the results you want.
The problem isn’t the tips, it’s we’ve never tried to get better at the core skills to implement these tips.
80% of doing this work is about developing incredible skills in persuasion, influence, and building rapport.
Very few of the messages we write are persuasive. Most don’t use any of the principles of persuasion. Most don’t embrace any of the psychological techniques that can help you get members to do what you need them to do.
Sarah’s email wasn’t bad in isolation, in many communities it might have been great, she just didn’t have the deep engagement skills she needed.
Here are a few examples:
- Audience profiling. Understanding the audience’s current views and favorability towards the idea, learning who they respect and why, identifying the keywords they use when interacting with each other etc..
- Credibility. Knowing how to gain credibility and build rapport with key figures. Knowing to get references to the top people, not introduce yourself in a newcomer email. Learning to do deeper interviews that gain respect from the audience.
- Persuasion. Knowing how to write and structure every message persuasively. Creating the right structure, using the right words, constructing the right narrative, deploying the right metaphors etc…
- Motivation. Being able to identify the key motivations of group clusters and use that motivation in any call to action. Ensuring the call to action aligns with personal goals.
These are some of the skills that will drive engagement, not another massive list of free tips.
Sarah, like many people, consumed all the tips she could find and destroyed her credibility in her very first message. This is an extreme example, but just one of many examples.
Free tips are useful, but understanding psychology, persuasion, influence, building rapport, and credibility will help you so much more.
We’ve spent 20 months now building the Advanced Engagement Methods program.
We’ve developed something I’m immensely proud of. It’s a single training and coaching program to coach you in skills that will make you better at driving real, meaningful, engagement through psychology principles.
To put this together we’ve tested hundreds of ideas, interviewed dozens of experts doing deep engagement work, and lined up several experts to give sessions during the program.
We’ve reviewed 500+ academic articles and pulled out the best insights to help you.
We’ve tested the methods in many different fields; internal and external engagement efforts, knowledge management and non-profits, content creation and social media.
This isn’t for beginners, it’s for people who have been in the field for several years already and consumed as many free tips as possible.
If you can learn and deploy these techniques effectively, you will be able to drive up engagement without spending another $50k on yet another new community platform.
And this is the final week you can sign up for the program.
I really hope a few of you will join us.
(Fee per person is 3420, group rates available)