In this week’s #CMGRClass readings about starting a community from scratch, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what creates a sense of value for community members. I’ve reflected on why I personally would want to be part of a community, and what would keep me involved.
I think of it as the concept of “value.”
It’s the idea that my participation provides something of intrinsic or tangible satisfaction to me.
“Value”—finding something “valuable”–is, in my view, the label applicable to the sense of imperative that gets people interested in your community to start with, ushers them in the door, entices them to stay, encourages them to contribute, and reinforces the sense that there is enough “good stuff” for them to stay put.
I also believe that providing continuing value is a necessary function of community mangers if they are to start, and maintain, successful ongoing engagement with a community.
The essence of that value depends to a great degree on whether the community type and the interested audience members are tuned in the same interests and values. Foremost in consideration is whether the type of community matches with the interests – and expected value – an audience member is seeking.
As pointed out in “Buzzing Communities,” by author Richard Millington, “the type of community changes everything” (about “the content you create, the people you invite, the activities/events you host, the benefit members get from the community, and how you moderate the community.”
Millington breaks the community types into these categories, all of which seem self-explanatory:
Another way to look at the essence of the give-and-take of an online community is the concept, “sense of community.” Millington asks key questions about each of what he says are the “four key factors inherent in develop a strong sense of community” (Page 49 in his book) that result in members’ feeling that their participation produces a “value” (my words). Millington’s factors (with my paraphrasing) are:
Membership: Do members identify with one another?
Influence: Do they feel influenced by the community and influential within it?
Integration/fulfillment of needs: Are members’ needs being met/aligned w/needs of the community?
Shared emotional connection: Do members share emotional connection?
That sense of value (or of the value proposition fulfilled, perhaps ) is referenced by Dino Dogan
in his article, “How To Build a Community of Fanatics.”
“So, the first lesson in building a community of fanatics is to create a new, effective, unique and original solution that solves a real pain-point for your target demographic.”
shows steps you can use to create a “value experience” when building a community. As he recommends in his July 2, 2012 blog:
Step 1: Pick up your phone, and call a user/customer. Ask them about themselves. Ask them about their experience with your company. Make a personal connection.
Step 2: Invite them to a private Facebook group for your customers.
Step 3: Introduce them to the group and help them get involved in the discussions.”
Putting myself in the place of that user/customer, I think it is very clear that, if you are the person getting the phone call, the invitation, the “ask” to participate, you will consider that a thing of real value.
- If you are starting a community, what kinds of value can you plan to provide your community members?
- If you are moderating a community, what kinds of actions do you routinely take to let members know that they themselves are valued, and that the community continues to be a valuable place that deserves their ongoing participation? What has been the most effective of those actions?