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Understanding Motivations Of Community Members

Richard Millington
Richard Millington

Founder of FeverBee

Recently, we have been experimenting with how to significantly improve the way we communicate with members. We do this by better understanding their motivation. 

McLlelland identified 3 needs as motivation.

  • Need for achievement (n’ach)
  • Need for power (n’pow)
  • Need for affiliation (n’affil)

If you knew which motivation was most important to your members, you could tailor your communications and activities to match. 

Imagine if in every communication with any member you had a good idea of what motivated them? That would be a powerful, effective, tool as a community professional. 

Option 1 – Sample of members do the test

One option would be to use an adapted version of the thematic appreciation test (TAT) to survey a good sample of them. This would reveal which motivation trumped the rest.

The problem is you might get a result such as:

  • n’pow: 40% of members
  • n’affil: 35% of members
  • n’ach: 25% of members

Based upon the above you might cater your communications to the need for power at the expense of the other two. Essentially, you would cater to the 40% and ignore the majority of your members. This would do more harm than good. 

Alternatively, 40% of your communications could be about n’pow, 35% for n’affil etc…Again, this still leaves out the majority on every communication/activity. 

Another problem is members might have all 3, some might only have just one. Your community is a conglomerate mass of different people with different personalities. Every person will score differently. 

Option 2 – All members do the test

A second option is to create ever more focused segments based upon their answers to TAT. Then you can send specific messages which would appeal to specific groups. 

The problem here is you would need every member to respond to the above to find what segments works best for them. That’s unlikely to happen. 

I suspect that a combination of the above is the best approach. First, use a reward to get as many members as possible to complete your adapted TAT. Link their score to an integrated solution, such as Salesforce. Then create groups based upon the score. 

If they don’t complete the test, send communications that would reflect the majority of the scores received so far.

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