The Mindset Shift: Providing Information -vs- Stimulating Discussion

March 2, 2012Comments Off

A few organizations we’ve worked with over the past year have trouble making the content/discussion mindset shift.

The following scenario is fairly common.

An organization will have a few experts generate activity in the community. The experts will write lots of content. The organization promotes this content to its audience. The audience visits, but doesn’t participate.

Why? Because they just came to read. They're information-seekers.

The organization's experts are stuck in the mindset of giving people information. It’s worked for previous marketing efforts, so why not now?

Because developing a community isn’t a marketing effort.

The skillset (and mindset) required to attract an audience is different from building a community.

In this scenario, you don’t need experts writing terrific content. You need experts provoking terrific discussions. This is easier than writing content (quicker too), but tough for people enamored with producing content to adapt to.

This goes far beyond lazily adding ‘what do you think, let us know in the comments below?’ to the end of news posts.

It means identifying the issues that people care about and initiating discussions about these issues.

Experts are perfectly placed to identify these issues and ask questions about them. These are issues that provoke an emotional response. These might be issues about the audience’s biggest problems/challenges, the audience’s experiences, or their hopes and ambitions.

Resist the temptation to create a question and give an answer in the same post. Ask a question, explain why you’re asking the question, keep it short, then respond later with your opinion. Participate in the discussion, don’t dominate it.

In communities you need to forget about giving people information. You need to figure out how you can provoke a discussion. 

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