Too many discussions begin with ‘how do we get….?’ usually followed by something people don’t want to do.
How do we get people to join and participate?
How do we get people to stop posting links to their own sites?
How do we get people to invite their friends?
How do we get people to create groups, initiate discussions, and remove posts?
It’s hard to get people to do something they don’t want to do. It takes time. You need to change the attitude towards that behavior. That’s possible to do, but you shouldn’t try to do it too often.
If most of your discussions are about getting members to do something, you’re always going to be fighting against the tide.
Better discussions begin with ‘who do we let…?’.
Imagine how that conversation changes things…
Who do we let join and participate in our community?
Who do we let post links to their own sites?
Who do we let invite their friends?
Who do we let create groups, initiate discussions, and remove posts?
Suddenly that same object can be seen as a positive. Instead of asking people to start creating their own groups, you can reach out to the smallest few with a good track record. Tell them you’re giving them a power no-one else has.
Instead of constantly removing links to personal sites you can reach out to a few people with a good track record and see if any of them might want to be responsible for this. Now members can submit their links to him/her for approval in a weekly ‘best of the web’ roundup.
When you change the type of discussion you’re having internally, your actions and tone of voice towards the community changes. The authoritative desperation (“Please stop spamming the site..or we’ll remove you!”) is replaced by a sense of control and rewarding the good members of the group (“Good news, we’ve decided to let each one of you submit your external articles for a weekly roundup. We have 2 volunteer editor places up for grabs!”). .
The best way to get members to do anything is very often to let a few of them do it.