Superfans

July 16, 2013 Comments Off on Superfans

Michael Wu writes persuasively about the value of superfans for
achieving a remarkable ROI.

Michael’s method is to identify superfans and use
gamification, with rewards, to spur high levels of activity.

For a customer-service based channel, this might be the most
effective method to gain a positive ROI. You can find a group of people to
spend a lot of time answering questions.

To build a genuine community, I
disagree.

First, the focus on the few incurs problems of perceived
impermeability
. Members feel they can’t quickly break into the core group
quickly and stop participating.

Second, these communities are designed for participation
inequality. Every community has uneven participation level. However, this is a
problem to tackle not a goal to aim for. By addressing different needs of
members at each stage of the lifecycle, this can be significantly reduced. 

Third, gamification changes the motivation for participation
from intrinsic to extrinsic. Those motivated by extrinsic reasons are less
eager to participate. When the shine of gamification fades, overall
participation levels drop.

For getting a few people to answer a lot of questions, this
is a brilliant method. To sustain a thriving community, be wary.

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