Community managers are always looking for new ways and techniques to serve their communities better. In today's hyper connected and hyper technological world, that often takes the form of an advancement in technology. But what's interesting is that marketers can also look to the past to service their customers better.
And to be clear, this doesn't mean ditching the technological hardware and software programs that make modern community management possible. Far from it. What it means is going back to the very roots of what makes the human brain work, to better understand how to use these tools in a way is most effective in engaging with your customers.
In a nutshell, neuroscience — the study of how the human brain works on a fundamental biological and chemical level — can teach community managers what their patrons want and how to give it to them.
Let’s look at some of the best community management techniques currently being used by top marketers, and explain their effectiveness through a scientific prism.
1) People Take the Path of Least Resistance
This may not come as a surprise, but human beings don't like to work hard.
In fact, our brains evolved to take the path of least resistance whenever possible. Yet at the same time, we're very complicated creatures with the capacity to analyze vast quantities of information before making a decision. This creates an interesting dilemma where we have to balance our desire for shortcuts with the recognition of just how complicated a decision can be.
One technique that the brain uses to accomplish this is to rely on authority figures to make decisions for them. This is what’s at play whenever somebody references the idea of “word-of-mouth” influence on consumers. Letting somebody else give you a simple answer to a complicated problem is one way for the brain to feel like it's making the right choice without the hard work of actually deciding. It's a path of least resistance that still has the promise of the desired result.
Community managers should take this cognitive bias into account whenever they design programs to help champions reach out to the broader community. These activities, which include testimonials or social media applications, are solidly grounded in science and must be a part of any community management strategy.
2) People Like Dopamine — and Gamification Gives it to Them
It's only a slight exaggeration to say that the human brain is addicted to dopamine. This comes in a variety of ways. One way is by challenging the brain, then offering it a reward for success.
Anyone who has witnessed a grown adult wandering the streets playing Pokémon Go in the quest for fictional achievements should understand this. But on a more serious note, this dopamine release is the key reason so many different types of customer service operations have turned to gamification. It’s been proven as a way to increase dopamine, and by extension, increase the frequency and depth of interactions by people with the gamified activity.
There are a number of ways for community managers to use this scientific principle to their advantage. Some of the most basic are rewarding members for quality posts, having a contest run within the community or giving community members the opportunity to dispense special rewards and badges to those who provide the most value to the group.
3) Get Personal — Really Personal
Good community managers know that the focus should always be placed on the members of their community. However, it's critical to understand just how important that statement is. As consumers, humans are always more responsive when they feel like something is coming from their own perspective.
In fact, this scientific reality is so true that it extends past the specific language that community managers choose to use when they interact with people. Neuroscience shows that humans love to have the focus placed on them. For community managers, this means always using the pronoun “you” instead of the collective third person “we” or “us”. This choice of language has been proven to produce more effective business communications.
This mistake is actually more common than you’d think. While no community manager is consciously thinking about placing a focus on themselves, there’s a natural tendency to speak to the community from the perspective of the business or organization.
While it’s okay for a community manager to speak from a wellspring of values, it's critical that the emphasis — both in word and in deed — is placed squarely on the community.
Speak to Human Truths
Community management is all about messaging. Community managers don’t need to reinvent the wheel to find tactics that increase engagement. Understanding and utilizing already established scientific research about the types of messaging humans respond to will increase the effectiveness of your community curation and growth efforts.
Take some time to make the best use of proven methodologies. It will go a long way towards maximizing the effectiveness of your brand’s community efforts.