Educating Community Members

Better educated members make better customers. But, educating members is extremely hard.

Most don’t have the time to be educated beyond a useful tidbit or answer to their problem. Others don’t have the motivation. (A few might already consider themselves experts).

The challenge isn’t sourcing the knowledge in the first place. It’s easy to find experts and useful solutions in almost any field. The challenge is turning the knowledge into a format the audience can digest.

You can spend weeks on a comprehensive resource which only a tiny percentage of the audience sees.

For example, we wanted members to be better informed about community platforms available.

We can do this via:

  • Replying to discussions about the topic.
  • Writing short blog posts.
  • Highlighting digestible tips each month.
  • Developing a series of autoresponder emails.
  • Having a live chat with implementation experts.
  • Hosting a webinar going through each of the big platforms.
  • Creating a wiki/eBook.
  • Developing a video training series.
  • Building an entire training course.
  • Hosting a conference about community platforms.

You will notice the steadily rising level of commitment (and probably smaller audience) at each step. You have to decide which level your new knowledge should live.

The temptation is to go from the easiest, simplest, level through to the more intense. I’ve repeatedly found the opposite works better. Begin with something which requires a lot of commitment and make it exclusive. Perhaps a free training course, but only available to community veterans (scarcity overcomes the motivation problem).

Then turn the training course into a series of short videos followed by a webinar on the topic, a monthly ‘top tips’ on the topic shared by the community, and respond personally. As more people pick up the key elements, they become more likely to reply to other discussions.

If it’s a really big topic, you will also need to change the structure of the community so discussions on the topic appear in a prominent place (ideally above the fold on the homepage). This makes it far more likely the knowledge will spread.

Comments

  1. Lucas Miller says:

    I completely agree and education will be key to the community I am building for my company. Currently, I am working with a UX designer to do some research with our service and product teams to understand what the key things end users should know about our company product. Then we are going to design a content strategy that is designed around those key knowledge points.

    This has got me thinking a lot about how I want to structure my content to meet some educational needs of our users. Thanks!

  2. Richard Millington says:

    @lucasmiller3 that's pretty awesome.

    Can you share the results later on? I'd love to see what you came up with in how you structure your educational content for members.

  3. Lucas Miller says:

    We are still interviewing our team members and compiling the research, but so far the results have been interesting. Understanding user needs, the intent behind the design and how users perceive those design efforts has been eye opening thus far.

    I am excited to compile our report and can share my results here. :slight_smile:

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