I recently met with a small community management team whom spend around 80% of their time responding to their members’ product questions.
This isn’t community management, it’s customer support.
Your job isn’t to answer question yourself. Every minute you spend responding to a member’s question is a minute you can’t spend getting another member to respond to that same question.
Your job is to get your members (or colleagues) to answer these questions. You need to spend your time creating the right conditions for experts to be identified, nurtured, and provide rapid responses to questions.
Your members will answer questions when the reward for answering a question exceeds the cost of creating an answer.
The best rewards are those which only a community can offer. It’s when members feel a unique sense of joy from helping others, feel like an expert within the field, or a feeling of belonging or rising stature among their peers.
Stop trying to answer every question yourself. Instead begin looking for members who have received answers or contributed posts on the most popular topics and reach out to them. Ask what brings them to the community and test different appeals (helping others, become an expert, build your reputation) and see what clicks best. Then design rewards which help this group achieve those benefits in the most powerful way.
Trust me, it will pay off a lot better over time.