If you answer someone's question, no-one else will.
If post a comprehensive, declarative, answer to a question, no-one else will respond to discussion.
Why would they? The question has been answered. They have nothing more to contribute.
Last week Liz asked why no-one responds to her trained moderators. Is it because they're labelled as moderators?
I don't think so. I suspect it's because of the responses they post. They're declarative, official, matter-of-fact, end-of-the-argument style posts.
They don't ask any clarifying questions, they don't show real interest in the other person, they don't invite contributions from other members.
For sure, if someone is asking a customer-service based question – then a definitive answer is exactly what they want. These should be the exceptions, not the norm.
The community manager's goal isn't to answer the question, but to get the original poster (and others) more engaged in an active discussion. These active discussions breed familiarity, habits, and lead to more people contributing their knowledge. More so, other members are more likely to respond to a discussion that has a few active responses.
You can make a few very subtle changes in your response style and significantly increase the quantity of contributions.
If you want to master the social science approach to building successful communities, sign up for our Professional Community Management course.
Registration is open now. The course begins on April 28th.