Emotions That Matter In An Online Community

The big three tend to be excitement, fear, and frustration.

They manifest themselves as inspiration, validation, and resolution.

Excitement and Inspiration

Excitement comes through inspiration. It’s when you see new ideas in the community you didn’t expect. You might visit for one reason, but during that visit you see several great ideas you can apply to improve your efforts. You start to visit more frequently.

This makes it worthwhile to encourage discussions and create content around:

  • Sharing relevant photos and videos of great ideas.
  • Best advice from the web.
  • Best personal tips from members.
  • Recommended books.
  • ‘Best of’ lists.

Newsletters work best when they focus on inspiration. Inspiration is what gets people returning to the community every day.

Fear and Validation

Validation is about removing uncertainty. It’s about overcoming problems you don’t know exist yet. You might be the only accountant in your company doing that job, how do you know if you’re doing it right? You want to check and compare your progress against others. Validation is about removing unforeseen mistakes.

This usually means content and discussions around:

  • Comparison of tools.
  • Equipment and product lists.
  • Reviews.
  • Working out loud / what are you working on topics.
  • Templates and resources.
  • Case studies and examples.
  • Fees and prices.

Think about different methods to get people to check and compare their efforts against each other. Newcomers are especially responsive to content that relates to validation.

Frustration and Resolution

Frustration is having a specific problem you can articulate that you want resolved. If your iPhone breaks, you visit a community to explain the problem and you want a resolution to that problem. You want the frustration removed.

  • FAQ and lists of most common problems.
  • Video and photographic guides to resolving problems.
  • Answers to questions.
  • Featured solutions.
  • Trending problems.

The problem with frustration is people only visit when they are frustrated and the tone of discussions tends to be negative by nature.

If you’re stuck with your community engagement efforts, you’re probably not embracing one or more of the big three emotions.

Comments

  1. Kathleen Ulrich says:

    Thanks, really helpful. I took the strategic community management course last winter and quickly realized that while I identified an emotion - lack of confidence - that applied to many members, there were at least 3 paths to this emotion. I needed to break it down further and prioritize which of the target audiences that had this emotional driver would be the first to get that “wow” objective. I had the seed of an idea before reading this post.
    Seeing the guidelines for content and discussions as they relate to emotions is going to really help me hone in on addressing this target audience. I’m excited and inspired!

    (And yes, Rich, I am still working on the same plan - reallocating resources, building awareness, taking measurements of success and failure and making adjustments takes time - worth it.)

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