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%3CLINGO-SUB%20id%3D%22lingo-sub-236%22%20slang%3D%22en-US%22%3EGive%20Them%20What%20They%20Want%20(To%20Get%20What%20You%20Need)%3C%2FLINGO-SUB%3E%3CLINGO-BODY%20id%3D%22lingo-body-236%22%20slang%3D%22en-US%22%3EIn%20a%20previous%20article%2C%20%3CA%20id%3D%22oq.s%22%20href%3D%22http%3A%2F%2Ftalk.lithium.com%2Flithium%2Fblog%2Farticle%3Fmessage.uid%3D226%22%20title%3D%22Answering%20the%20Question%20of%20'Why'%22%20target%3D%22_blank%22%20rel%3D%22noopener%20noreferrer%20noopener%20noreferrer%22%3EAnswering%20the%20Question%20of%20'Why'%3C%2FA%3E%2C%20I%20spoke%20about%20the%20need%20to%20have%20measurable%20objectives%20for%20your%20enterprise%20community.%20Equally%20important%2C%20though%2C%20are%20the%20goals%2Fmotivations%20of%20your%20target%20members.%20You%20can%20think%20of%20your%20community%20management%20as%20the%20steering%20wheel%20of%20a%20car%20and%20your%20members%20as%20the%20engine.%20Without%20your%20business%20objectives%20to%20steer%20by%2C%20the%20car%20is%20aimless%20and%20and%20headed%20for%20a%20crash.%20But%20without%20continual%20motivation%20fueling%20your%20members%2C%20all%20the%20steering%20in%20the%20world%20won't%20get%20you%20anywhere.%3CBR%20%2F%3E%3CBR%20%2F%3ETo%20put%20it%20another%20way%2C%20I%20tend%20to%20think%20of%20building%20a%20community%20site%20in%20many%20ways%20like%20developing%20a%20product.%20There%20must%20be%20a%20benefit%20that%20the%20company%20hopes%20to%20obtain%20in%20building%20it%2C%20but%20there%20must%20also%20be%20a%20benefit%20for%20the%20users%20in%20order%20for%20them%20to%20adopt%20it.%20Forget%20either%20side%20of%20this%20equation%2C%20and%20the%20product%20(or%20the%20community)%20falters.%20Consider%20what%20your%20members%20will%20want%20from%20your%20community%20to%20make%20sure%20that%20their%20needs%20are%20going%20to%20be%20met%20as%20well.%3CBR%20%2F%3E%3CBR%20%2F%3EOn%20the%20Lithosphere%2C%20we%20believe%20the%20motivations%20of%20our%20target%20members%20to%20participate%20will%20be%20fairly%20similar%20to%20those%20of%20our%20customers'%20support%20communities%3A%3CBR%20%2F%3E%3CUL%3E%3CLI%3ETo%20ask%20questions%20of%20a%20wider%20audience%3C%2FLI%3E%3CLI%3ETo%20find%20out%20what%20their%20peers%20are%20doing%3C%2FLI%3E%3CLI%3ETo%20obtain%20validation%20from%20other%20members%3C%2FLI%3E%3CLI%3ETo%20get%20support%20outside%20of%20Lithium%20business%20hours%3C%2FLI%3E%3CLI%3ETo%20see%20Lithium%E2%80%99s%20best%3C%2FLI%3E%3CLI%3EThat%20Lithium%20is%20listening%3C%2FLI%3E%3C%2FUL%3EThe%20first%20four%20points%20are%20why%20members%20would%20participate%20in%20any%20support%20community%20on%20a%20topic%20of%20value%20to%20them.%20The%20last%20two%20express%20the%20key%20reasons%20why%20they%20would%20come%20to%20a%20community%20that%20Lithium%20maintains.%3CBR%20%2F%3E%3CBR%20%2F%3E%20So%20take%20the%20time%20to%20find%20out%20what%20your%20members'%20needs%20and%20motivations%20are%2C%20learn%20what%20drives%20them%20to%20participate%20productively%20in%20your%20community.%20Once%20you%20know%20why%20members%20will%20participate%2C%20you%20are%20that%20much%20closer%20to%20figuring%20out%20how%20to%20make%20your%20community%20valuable%20to%20both%20of%20you.%3C%2FLINGO-BODY%3E%3CLINGO-SUB%20id%3D%22lingo-sub-238%22%20slang%3D%22en-US%22%3ERe%3A%20Give%20Them%20What%20They%20Want%20(To%20Get%20What%20You%20Need)%3C%2FLINGO-SUB%3E%3CLINGO-BODY%20id%3D%22lingo-body-238%22%20slang%3D%22en-US%22%3EI've%20actually%20found%20a%20lot%20of%20value%20in%20the%20Social%20Technographics%20profiles%20(the%20Creators%2C%20Critics%2C%20Collectors%2C%20Joiners%2C%20Spectators%20and%20Inactives)%20put%20forth%20by%20Forrester%20Research%3A%3CBR%20%2F%3E%3CA%20href%3D%22http%3A%2F%2Fwww.forrester.com%2FGroundswell%2Fprofile_tool.html%22%20target%3D%22_blank%22%20rel%3D%22nofollow%20noopener%20noreferrer%22%3Ehttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.forrester.com%2FGroundswell%2Fprofile_tool.html%3C%2FA%3E%3CBR%20%2F%3E%3CBR%20%2F%3EAnother%20interesting%20model%20to%20look%20at%20is%20the%20%E2%80%9CMyth%20of%20Web%202.0%20Non-Participation%E2%80%9D%20at%20%3CA%20href%3D%22http%3A%2F%2Fwww.personalizemedia.com%2Findex.php%2F2007%2F11%2F26%2Fthe-myth-of-non-participation-in-web-20-social-networks%22%20target%3D%22_blank%22%20rel%3D%22nofollow%20noopener%20noreferrer%22%3Ehttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.personalizemedia.com%2Findex.php%2F2007%2F11%2F26%2Fthe-myth-of-non-participation-in-web-20-social-networks%3C%2FA%3E%20proposed%20by%20Gary%20Hayes.%3CBR%20%2F%3E%3CBR%20%2F%3EBut%20I%20am%20not%20sure%20that%20we%20can%20say%20any%20of%20these%20profiles%20differ%20broadly%20in%20their%20motivations%20for%20participating%20in%20the%20community%2C%20so%20much%20as%20they%20differ%20in%20the%20nature%20and%20depth%20of%20their%20response.%20Many%20of%20the%20motivations%20I%20noted%20above%20can%20be%20satisfied%20even%20at%20the%20Spectator%2FConsumer%20level.%20I%20think%20in%20some%20ways%20it%20can%20be%20a%20trap%20to%20focus%20too%20much%20on%20the%20active%20participants%E2%80%99%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Give Them What They Want (To Get What You Need)

Lithium Alumni (Retired) Lithium Alumni (Retired)
Lithium Alumni (Retired)
In a previous article, Answering the Question of 'Why', I spoke about the need to have measurable objectives for your enterprise community. Equally important, though, are the goals/motivations of your target members. You can think of your community management as the steering wheel of a car and your members as the engine. Without your business objectives to steer by, the car is aimless and and headed for a crash. But without continual motivation fueling your members, all the steering in the world won't get you anywhere.

To put it another way, I tend to think of building a community site in many ways like developing a product. There must be a benefit that the company hopes to obtain in building it, but there must also be a benefit for the users in order for them to adopt it. Forget either side of this equation, and the product (or the community) falters. Consider what your members will want from your community to make sure that their needs are going to be met as well.

On the Lithosphere, we believe the motivations of our target members to participate will be fairly similar to those of our customers' support communities:
  • To ask questions of a wider audience
  • To find out what their peers are doing
  • To obtain validation from other members
  • To get support outside of Lithium business hours
  • To see Lithium’s best
  • That Lithium is listening
The first four points are why members would participate in any support community on a topic of value to them. The last two express the key reasons why they would come to a community that Lithium maintains.

So take the time to find out what your members' needs and motivations are, learn what drives them to participate productively in your community. Once you know why members will participate, you are that much closer to figuring out how to make your community valuable to both of you.
About the Author
Scott is a Client Services Engagement Manager at Lithium and the Community Manager for the Lithosphere community. In this role he helps enterprise organizations using social media to locate and engage their brand advocates and influencers to address real business challenges.
2 Comments
Honored Contributor
Honored Contributor
Scott,

That's really a great point. Do you have some community participant Archetypes that you might put forth for further discussion and comment? I suspect each enterprise community genre' has certain types of particpants. Some join simply to accomplish a single point in time objective - ask a question, post their opinion, etc, and then leave. Others seem to join for the purpose of ongoing engagement of varying scopes - some seemingly motivated by the technical merit of the content, and others perhaps are fueled more by the interpersonal dynamics of the community.

As you note, each of these members is motivated / demotivated by various factors - a mix of feature, function, role, content and reward.

As Joe points out in his most recent post, Lithium has a unique vantage point of observing these dynamics in many different types of communities. I look foward to how you advance this line of discussion.

Mark
Lithium Alumni (Retired) Lithium Alumni (Retired)
Lithium Alumni (Retired)
I've actually found a lot of value in the Social Technographics profiles (the Creators, Critics, Collectors, Joiners, Spectators and Inactives) put forth by Forrester Research:
http://www.forrester.com/Groundswell/profile_tool.html

Another interesting model to look at is the “Myth of Web 2.0 Non-Participation” at http://www.personalizemedia.com/index.php/2007/11/26/the-myth-of-non-participation-in-web-20-social-networks proposed by Gary Hayes.

But I am not sure that we can say any of these profiles differ broadly in their motivations for participating in the community, so much as they differ in the nature and depth of their response. Many of the motivations I noted above can be satisfied even at the Spectator/Consumer level. I think in some ways it can be a trap to focus too much on the active participants’ motivation and ignore the broader base of “silent” members. You need to make sure your community provides value at all levels to be successful.

I'd be very interested to hear yours and others' thoughts on how you see these types playing out in your communities.