Too many community strategies prioritise quantity of content over the trustworthiness of content.
This is a shame. It makes the community increasingly noisy without obviously increasing its value to participants.
For a mature community, your goal shouldn’t be to increase the quantity of engagement but to improve the quality of it. People need to have deep trust in the content that’s being created and shared within the community.
Fortunately, the contours of trust are fairly clear:
- Perceived ability of the poster (qualifications, knowledge, experiences).
- Perceived integrity of the poster (honesty, intentions to help others, fairness).
- The consensus of the group (quantity of people who share the opinion compared with those who don’t).
- Trust in the host (is this content hosted on a site known for being trustworthy).
Begin by hosting an annual trust survey.
Ask members about the following (using a 5-point Likert scale):
- Do you feel content posted by members in this community is trustworthy?
- Do you feel members who share content have qualifications, knowledge, and experiences?
- Do you feel members who share content have the best intentions?
- Do you feel enough members share their expertise/opinions in this community?
- Do you feel this website has a reputation for trustworthy content?
You can adapt these as you see fit.
Now you can use this to see which factors are the biggest antecedents of trust for your community. More importantly, you can use this to develop specific actions to increase the trustworthiness of content.
You can find sites that are considered very trustworthy and see the specific steps they’ve taken. Amazon has verified purchases, for example. StackOverflow relies heavily upon its rating system and tight moderation. Find sites that exceed in the areas you’re weak in and borrow their ideas.