That is why community managers and community teams should leverage the following proven strategies to drive user-generated content and manage member behavior.
Spotlight Your Community Heroes
A great practice every community manager should implement is to nominate and highlight community members that openly demonstrates the desired role model behavior that makes for a strong, thriving community (See also Community Management Tactic: Finding Your Community’s Super-Users).
Do a short write-up of the member and include some basic profile information like their job title, place of employment place, professional experience, and what they enjoy doing in their free time. (FYI, this is also a great tactic to encourage member profile completion). Add some photos or embed a video to spice it up and give it more life. The most important piece to include is a section dedicated to their positive community contributions.
The whole reason this member was nominated in the first place was due to their positive contributions, right?
Make it known. Put the most attention and care into this section. Call out specific examples and provide links for additional context. Post the write-up in a highly visible area of your community.
Brand the program to something catchy and obvious like “Hero of the Week” or “Member Spotlight.” Portray them as a leader. Other members will take notice and begin to follow suit.
If you have the resources to recognize members weekly like Yelp’s “Top Yelpers,” go for it. The more often you recognize members, the more you’ll reinforce and drive home your underlying message.
You’ll begin to notice these members are so honored from being nominated, they contribute even more. They’ll even take on some of your (the community manager) responsibilities like welcoming new members, moderating content, and help out with general community questions.
Highlight Quality Posts
Your online community is a gold mine of useful and valuable pieces of content nuggets. Sometimes they get buried in long discussion threads or get pushed down in feeds as newer content is created. Don’t let them get away! Reference and link to them in replies as an example of a thoughtful, thorough, and most importantly, a correct answer.
Coach community teams and customer advocates to do the same. These quality posts should be featured in a highly visible area of your community, similar to the Hero post mentioned above. Again, driving home the message of what type of quality content the community is looking for and can benefit from.
Incent and Reward
Gamification is nothing new to online communities. In a nutshell, it can be summed up in a few simple words; provide incentives to change behavior, then deliver a reward(s) based on that change in behavior. (See also Gamification in Online Communities: Incentivize your members and increase engagement).
Take the quality post above as an example, let’s say you’re managing a technical support community, create badges that reward a member for replying to a question and resolving another member’s issue correctly. And to ensure continued participation after they receive their first badge, set tiered goals; 5, 25, 50, 100, 500 correct answers.
Just keep in mind that your gamification strategy should always be composed of tactics that support and be tied to your community and/or organizational goals.
Physical, tangible rewards work as incentives too like software, hardware, and corporate merchandise. Whatever you decide that reward will be, brand it and make it an extension of your community and company.
Have you tried these strategies within your online community? What were the results?