We need to change our behaviour here at Experts

(Sarah Hawk) #1

I’d like to change a couple of things here at Experts, and in order to do so, we need to change our behaviour.

  • I want new members to feel immediately welcome, comfortable, and prepared to post about what they are looking for or what they need help with.
    At the moment ~20% of new members make a post, and only half of those go on to post more than once. This might be due to the daunting length of the ‘So, what are you working on’ topic, which is the CTA in our welcome emails. It might be the fact that I’m the only person that generally responds to those posts, or it might be the fact that we’re perceived as ‘daunting’ in some way. Which leads me to point 2.

  • I want everyone to feel like they have something valuable (and brilliant) to offer, regardless of how long they have been in this industry.
    See the comment about being daunting above. Something about this community makes some people nervous about posting. I’ve heard that some of you feel the need to craft such a perfect, brilliantly worded and justified argument, that you just don’t have the time or motivation. Others don’t feel that they’ve been doing this job for long enough to add anything new to the conversation.

I love that the level of discussion here is high and I don’t want to change that, but I don’t want it to be something that feels exclusive to the wider community. If we don’t hear all of the voices, how do we know what we don’t know?

Who has created behaviour change along these lines within their community and how did you do it?

You're Invited - to my cat's birthday?
Lurker behaviour and the engagement challenge
Staff Engagement Framework for Community Participation
[data] CTAs work
(Nick Emmett) #2

I totally get this @HAWK. I can see where this is coming from, having read the earlier thread. Getting to the crux of why people lurk and don’t participate or even contribute is surely one of life’s hidden mysteries. I think to some extent you’re right, there are definitely some changes needed to get more people posting, or coming back and continuing to post. I for one, will make a concerted effort to support you and be a part of that. However, a couple of points.

We don’t really have visibility of who new people are other than the hope that they will post in the epic “What are you working on?” thread. I’m not sure that matters, will see how it goes.

There’s also a real interesting juxtaposition evident, where it seems the people that are posting more are comfortable with the level of conversation, and those that don’t feel ready to post yet, and therefore lurking/reading, are perhaps less experienced/knowledgeable and less comfortable. I do get the point about keeping the level of discussion high but then does that become one of those “take it on the chin” things that says that the number of participants may never grow significantly until the audience is all more experienced and comfortable with the level of discussion?

(Sarah Hawk) #3

That’s very true. Would it make a difference to you if you did? I’ve always been mindful of welcome threads that introduce new members, because they tend to fill forums up with low value noise. I wonder if there is another way.

[quote=“Nick_Emmett, post:2, topic:2193”]
…that says that the number of participants may never grow significantly until the audience is all more experienced and comfortable with the level of discussion?[/quote] I don’t know. Do you think that if people were somehow made to feel more comfortable to post from the start that they would understand that there are no stupid questions and that they likely have useful insights from other (outside of community) experiences?

I guess I’m saying that there is a big difference between a community that has a whole lot of repetitive, entry level questions from people that haven’t done any reading/research (which we don’t want) and one that is rich with challenges and insights from people that bring skills from outside of what we define as ‘pure community’.

(Nick Emmett) #4

Just thinking about this in terms of @richard_millington’s workshop sessions last week - perhaps there’s more specifics needed for us to truly help.

For example: what’s the current behaviour? What’s the desired behaviour? What are the drivers of both? What’s stopping people from doing the desired behaviour right now?

(Nick Emmett) #5

I don’t know if it would make a difference. I guess there’s an assumption we can make that says, if someone’s posting in that thread and introducing themselves, then they’re likely to be either a new member of a new poster. In terms of welcome threads, although I get the low value noise thing, I guess it depends - perhaps there’s a purpose it can serve if it encourages people to welcome others. In my first CM role, we had an internal community on Yammer. The platform made an automatic post when someone joined and our team of volunteer advocates made an effort to say welcome and recommend things to do.

I think more probably would yes. It may not be earth shattering, but I think it would help. The problem is, how.

I completely agree and that’s why I come - I can’t however speak for the people that you’re trying to engage and make feel comfortable.

(Sarah Hawk) #6

I attempted to do that in my first post but perhaps it was too vague – I’ll try to be more granular.

The current behaviour:
Only ~20% of new members make a post, and only half of those make more than one.

The desired behaviour:
That the majority of new members introduce themselves in some manner, and then participate in other discussions.

What is stopping the change?:
I assume the driver of the former has something to do with the way in which people are inducted into the community – either by my personal welcome email, our automated on-boarding emails, or what they experience when they get here.

[quote=“Nick_Emmett, post:5, topic:2193”]
then they’re likely to be either a new member of a new poster.
[/quote] You can confirm that by clicking on an avatar launches a profile card with their sign up date.

I could contact new joiners that haven’t engaged and ask them what the barrier to entry is. The danger there is coming across as more daunting.

(Nick Emmett) #7

Got you. I was thinking that your initial post was more about changing the behaviour of us, the existing membership, not particularly the new members.
i.e. Current behaviour: read the “What are you working on” posts and leave them for you to reply to (in general.
Desired behaviour: Welcome the new member/first timer, etc.

Totally never though of the profile cards!
And I hear you about contacting new joiners. I guess sometimes there’s not many options though? How you get the point of your question across is important though, and done in the right way wouldn’t come across as daunting or stalker-ish. Happy to help where I can :slight_smile:

(Sarah Hawk) #8

I guess it was, actually, and I got side-tracked, along with muddying the waters with two issues.

Current behaviour: People don’t post unless they think they have something brilliant to add to a conversation, or a perfectly crafted post.

Desired behaviour: People are encouraged to post by the wider community, regardless of their level of experience, or the fact that they only have a limited time in which to put down their thoughts.

Edit: further to this, I’m editing my email template (and I’ve borrowed some words from @Doug_Agee)

[personal welcome bit here]

Our community members are as diverse in skills and talents as they are in reasons for joining our community in the first place! Your contribution is valuable and helps to grow the community – regardless of your level of skill or experience. We want to hear from everyone!

Given that, I’d love it if you’d hold onto this email until you have a spare minute, then jump into this topic and tell us what you’re working on and what your challenges are. If you have more than a minute, I’d also love to hear what you’re interested in or passionate about – community related or not.

Thanks. I look forward to hearing from you.

(Doug Agee) #9

We were thinking along the same line @HAWK [quote=“HAWK, post:8, topic:2193”]
Desired behaviour: People are encouraged to post by the wider community, regardless of their level of experience, or the fact that they only have a limited time in which to put down their thoughts.

Edit: further to this, I’m editing my email template

Not only has this discussion influenced my personal behavior, I am thinking about better ways to ask people to contribute while reminding how important their contribution is regardless of size.

The letter is fantastic @HAWK and is made better by the idea of hanging on to the email. That works right into my methods of “mark as unread” until I get to my community participation part of my day. I am stealing this idea.

One thing I did earlier was to update my TextExpander snippets to staff and experts that I “tap” to share their opinion. In a rough essence it says -

Please feel free to share your comment in the community. Regardless of skill level or experience, we want to hear from everyone! Your contribution to discussions in the Open Forum is valuable to both our engaged and silent members and keeps the community growing. Thanks for all you do for the community.

I am going to work our reminder of contribution into my discussions and communications over the next few days to see if that makes a difference. My guess is that short and frequent public service announcements - PSAs will help remind community members that their opinion matters and that we all benefit from many voices.

(purldator) #10

I will throw in my abject honesty. This is from my intuitive abilities and from my own self-awareness.

The atmosphere is very “professional” here.

That is intimidating.

It feels very “tight and efficient”. I cannot sense a palatable amount of casual tones here.

Even posting this, right now, makes me feel off. I have a casual way of speaking, and I know my experience does not come from working in anything high profile or corporate. A lot of my information comes from intuition, independent psychology studies without college time to present any title, and my own acute self-awareness.

Other than that, I have nothing to show. Other than my one community; that was far from anything considered corporate. That was built entirely from hobby and I made no money from it. It lasted a long time with a substantial amount of user activity, but, that is all I have to say for it.

In general, I feel I am unable to be “me”. I still am me. I feel risk doing that here.

More “water cooler” needed; less “meeting room”.

EDIT: I feel the same sentiments from this topic.

“This place is a tome of knowledge, and if I post here then it must reflect that.”

Getting people to make that first post
ROI – what are your big questions?
(Sarah Hawk) #11

I wholeheartedly agree with everything you say here (thanks for your honesty). Let’s change that perception. I think that we need a balance – this is a professional community and the quality of information has to remain high in order to provide value, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t have personality.

As CM I support and encourage this change, and will lead the charge. I need the support of the group to consistently demonstrate the new behaviour so that we can model the new norm.

Does anyone have any practical suggestions as to how we could begin?

(purldator) #12

Possible idea: A “speakeasy” category. Related to the main topic, but more relaxed.

Example topics:

“Most memorable memories from your community”
“That user did WHAT”
“Forum game ideas for your community”

(Sarah Hawk) #13

@Darren_Gough and I often chat about the sense of community here. What is your take on this thread/topic Darren?

(Darren Gough) #14

Pretty interesting reading @hawk @purldator @Doug_Agee @Nick_Emmett.

We’ve discussed this internally recently and I think the areas especially @purldator touches on around “professional” sometimes coming across as intimidating is an interesting one. There are a few people on here that I’ve started to get a feel for their personalities but in general I think whilst what people are saying is strong, to an extent the boundaries between the personas can blur somewhat.

I’d love to get under the bonnet, so to speak, of who people are but more importantly what they get angry/passionate/humorous about. I think the concept of a virtual pub or coffee house where people feel confident to display their personalities a bit more would work wonders.

Meeting people like @Nick_Emmett, @stevebridger @Bas_van_Leeuwen amongst many others has helped me do that. Clearly we can’t meet up everyone offline, but an area where people can take an online step toward that could be just the ticket.

I don’t believe having less formal areas would see a drop in standards in the more formal ones, infact quite the opposite as people return to see what a certain person things about their point.

What do you all think?

(Bas van Leeuwen) #15

I think this post is an excellent example of why this community can be intimidating. I’m intimidated at this very moment. :slight_smile:

You started this post twelve hours ago. I just had a look and if I print this thread, it comes in at nine (9!) pages of intelligent discussion.
Yeah… I’m not going to just casually give my opinion without investing at least 15 minutes of my time reading into the matter.

(Mark Baldwin) #16

My twopeneth would be that if engagement is the key here @HAWK that there are at least some threads which have a perceived lower threshold for discussion. We all know that simple questions get the highest level of engagement, but not the most useful and sometimes that’s ok. So I would still like to see very specific, high level questions/threads running alongside broader, easier and dare I say more fun discussions. :slight_smile:

(Nick Emmett) #17

So I think @Darren_Gough is right, as is everyone that’s posted so far realistically. I think the sense of community is ok in here. It’s definitely strengthened by offline meet-ups though, having met several people at SPRINT (Hi @Darren_Gough, @Bas_van_Leeuwen, @peterbutton, @Nicola_Band, @JoeBuhlig, @Jeffrey_Otterspoor, @Vanessa ) I feel I have a better idea of those people’s personalities, and therefore a stronger connection with, than I do of those I haven’t met. What about the potential of holding smaller FeverBee events in between SPRINTs? A couple of evening sessions through the year, maybe one up north and one down south (for the UK anyway).

To some extent, part of me thinks that the very fact that we’re talking about higher and lower levels of discussion is something that in itself can create intimidation - if people feel that they are contributing a “lower level” of conversation, they are surely unlikely to want to contribute - that’s where the battle is. The motivation to post is potentially reduced as a result. I’m not 100% sure of how that can be fixed - the conversations that happen are the conversations that happen. New members need to be made at ease with posting whatever is on their mind, whatever they are struggling with, regardless of the perceived level. We should all understand this, being Community Managers - I’m sure we all face similar challenges in our own communities - how do you handle this conundrum in your community?

Having said that, I’ve seen a steady progression of first time posters in my own community recently, some are brand new members, some have had access for the best part of a year. I have a Todo list note to check in with them and find out what they’ve been doing and what pushed them in to posting their first post.

(JoeBuhlig) #18

From my simplistic view, the original post in most cases is quite lengthy here as compared to other less formal forums I participate in. That might be a misperception so correct me if you think I’m off base. This could be due to a need to provide clarification about the type of topic that’s being created. Because there’s one category that holds the majority of topics, you have to create a delineation at the onset and that leads to a “new topic convention” that newbies may not catch right away. That’s part of the reason I haven’t jumped on that boat quite yet. I’m starting to come up with questions that I’m considering posting but I’m unsure of how to pose them in a a concise and understandable way since I have a fair amount or clarification that’s needed.

If there were three or four breakouts of categories that are geared toward more specific areas, it may make it easier to get to the point and lessen the resistance to create less formal topics. Just my two pennies.

Watercooler and other categories
(Kristen Gastaldo) #19

In a related note, I know that this “your topic is similar to” box is supposed to be helpful, but I think it actually discourages people from posting. I know you don’t want duplicate content, but personally I find it a bit off putting.

How do you make people search before asking a question?
(Nick Emmett) #20

I think I hear you @Kristen_Gastaldo, in what way does it put you off posting? For me, I throw a cursory glance and to be fair just about ignore it then. :slightly_smiling: