Momentum Is The Killer Hack For Social Groups

October 12, 2015Comments Off on Momentum Is The Killer Hack For Social Groups

Momentum is the killer hack for social groups. We flock to join groups with momentum. Even the slightest sign of plurality causes people to flock to the cause.

There are three broad reasons behind this.

  • Maintaining a positive social identity. Cialdini called this BIRGing – basking in reflected glory. A large part of our own identities is derived from the groups we associate ourselves with. We therefore distance ourselves from failing groups and associate ourselves with success.
  • Social proof, conformity, and social pressure. As a group grows, there’s increasing pressure to join (or go along with) the group. The more of your friends you see join the group, the more likely you are to join. Popularity suggests success. Success brings popularity. Do you want to be the only person not in the gang?
  • Economic benefits and survival. Successful groups are in a position to divide collective resources (information, money, effort etc…) between them. Being a member of that group gives you access to the resources. The more successful the group, the greater the resources. Many people join groups even if they disagree with the group’s principles.

Too often we spend huge amounts of time and money on platform changes or grandiose schemes without ever getting the basics right. If you establish momentum, people will flock to join the group.

Momentum is the increasing motivation of a group to achieve its goals. This involves a few core steps:

  • Demonstrate progress already achieved. Highlight and frequently reference where you began and how far you’ve come. Most politicians know to begin a speech positively (how far we’ve come) and then detail how much further they need to go. Reference this in your interactions with members, blog posts, newsletters, and any other channel you can communicate with members. A really sneaky tactic is to begin when you’re already 50%+ towards your goal. Highlight all the things the group didn’t even know they did which has brought them closer to their goal. LinkedIn does this with member profiles, for example. Most Kickstarter campaigns do the same.
  • Show increasing levels of growth and activity. You can be selective here. Highlight the areas of the group where the level of growth and activity is increasing. Do this in a monthly wrap-up and praise the people (never you) responsible for helping make it happen. You can update the stats as you see progress or do it on a consistent schedule.
  • Draw attention to every small milestone along the way. As we discussed last week, use the same tools (direct communication, blogs, newsletters, forum posts) to highlight every small milestone you achieve along the way. If your internal community is designed to reduce the number of internal e-mails sent, highlight the reduction each month – or highlight the reduction among specific teams each month.
  • Demonstrate the declining distance. Your members should perceive the gap between the current state and desired goal as progressively declining. Highlighting big wins here is good. But showing that the distance is in some quantifiably way declining is also good.

Sense of momentum is self-fulfilling. To create momentum you need to ensure other members are aware of the tiniest sparks of success. Ignore your failures, focus solely on the bright spots.

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