Looking for some ways to treat your community members? Maybe Halloween’s coming up and you’re looking for some ideas. Maybe it was yesterday and you missed it and you’re scrambling for a way to make it up to them.
It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, it’s always a great time for treats!
But, much like Halloween candy, too much of a good thing is not always healthy. Besides, if it’s something that happens every day, it’s not much of a treat at all, is it?
Here are three tactics that you can use to treat your community any day of the year.
Break one of your rules for one day (with a caveat)
What community members get out of it: An opportunity to do something they don’t normally get to do
What you get out of it: You get to see exactly how your community acts in the absence of that rule
What’s a rule that your users may not always really like, but is in their best interests? Is there one that you could live without for a day?
Obviously you don’t want to break a fundamental rule of your forum. You’re not going to just let everyone start being jerks to each other all of a sudden. But you might open up the floor for software requests one day. There are a ton of options, and you know which ones you’d be comfortable with.
Just be aware that whatever rule you roll back for the day, there will be some who love it, and others who hate it.
An example of this is when the AskHistorians subreddit broke their “no soapboxing,” discussing current events, or expressing political views rule to attempt to drum up support against a particular bill proposed by their government that would strip certain funding.
For the most part, their initiative was welcomed, but there was also dissent amongst their subscribers. It’s likely that a community of this size was damaged by any kind of controversy here, but it’s still worth pointing out as a cautionary tale.
For the moderators of that forum, breaking that rule certainly accomplished the goal they had in mind, which was to generate awareness of an issue they felt passionate about.
Pull back the curtains for a day
What your community gets: Access to information they don’t normally get to see
What you get: Further engagement out of already loyal community members
Foursquare has a particularly ingenious way of pulling back the proverbial curtain. They have a tier of users called Superusers. These are their most active community members, and they provide a lot of value to Foursquare.
In return, these Superusers are granted access to content that no one else is able to access.
For example, they are able to attend Foursquare’s quarterly town hall events, hosted by co-founder Dennis Crowley. This is a chance for them to have unprecedented access to all kinds of behind-the-scenes access. They get a really intimate look at Foursquare’s product development process.
In turn, these Superusers create a ton of value for Foursquare. Victoria Ugarte, Product Manager at Foursquare has said:
Superusers mean a lot to Foursquare. They are the custodians of our location database and our best digital cartographers. They maintain and add to the Places Database and perform community outreach on behalf of the company.
I am easily able to demonstrate to internal stakeholders the incredible value they generate by showing how their venue edits directly impact the experience for our entire community of users, and how we also leverage their engagement to beta-test new features.
Not everyone might be this comfortable with granting this level of access to their community. Another tactic could be to have a special guest AMA on your forum. Make it someone that your base would love to hear from, and give them free reign to voice their questions, comments, and even concerns.
The point is that you’re giving them a treat. Make sure that they get something that they wouldn’t normally get on an everyday basis.
Throw your community a party (and get one on for yourselves at the same time!)
What your community gets: Fun, original content
What you get: Team building and a party!
I think this one is my favorite. Mostly because of how much fun the whole thing could be for everyone, if executed correctly.
A few years ago, while she was working at Mirum (it was called Twist Image at the time), a marketing agency in Montreal, she was a member of a party planning committee. They had the idea to put employees together in random groups of five, and asked them to create a fake trailer for a film called, “The Agency.”
Here’s the fake trailer that Liesl’s crew put together (warning, it’s a bit gorey, but quite obviously fake):
For those at the agency, it all culminated with a Halloween party where the trailers were judged by a crew of “judges,” dressed in formal gowns and robes. Winners were chosen for each category. And did I mention they had a party?
At the end of it, they’d not only done a great job of bringing people together AT the agency, they also had a ton of content to share with their community members. And they loved it!
This is something that you could do at any time of year. As long as you let your teams be as creative as you already know they are, you’re going to end up with some great stuff.
Try creating a new room to share the new content in, and work out a kind of party theme for rolling out each piece of content you end up with.
The results of your efforts are:
You build camaraderie at the office. You create amazing content. You share content with your community that is entertaining, but also serves to personalize your business a little more. They get to see more of who you are, which creates a personal connection to your brand. Everyone’s a winner!
Treats, not tricks
We all know how difficult it can be to manage a community. Members can be demanding, they can be rude, and they can be difficult to deal with.
They can also be forthcoming, eager to please, delightful, and wonderful to talk to. Which is why we do this.
Offer your community members a little something special every now and then to remind them of how special they are to you. Who knows, maybe they’ll end up doing the same for you?