Is Your Community a “Swipe Right” Type Forum?

8 minute read

February 14, 2020

Is Your Community a “Swipe Right” Type Forum?

But, before you go and have your own judgment session on dating apps for their harsh and shallow nature, get a load of this: your community will actually be judged twice as quickly as a photo on a dating app.

Yup, you heard that correctly.

Studies show that it only takes 50 milliseconds for someone to make up their mind about your web page, while it takes double that time, 100 milliseconds to be exact, for people to make up their minds about others simply by looking at their faces.

So, if you think dating apps are shallow, well, you might want to take a closer look at your community. How many of your potential members passed your community up based on appearances?

The fact is, there’s actually a number of valuable lessons to be learnt from dating apps that you, as a Community Manager, can use to improve your community. Before we dive in, let’s just clarify what “swipe right,” actually means for those of you who’ve never used a dating app.

Swipe right or left

In short, “swiping right,” to someone on a dating app means that you find them attractive, while on the other hand, swiping left basically means “no thanks, bye.” If both parties have swiped right on each other, then it’s “a match,” and only then can a conversation be initiated.

Now that we’re on the same page, let’s discuss the lessons to be learnt from dating apps and how you can apply them to your community to make it a swipe-right-type forum.

There are in fact, a number of parallels between dating apps and communities. Broadly speaking, the end goal of a dating app (assuming it’s being used to find love) is to find “the one.” The end goal of a community (generally speaking) is to have an engaged and self-sustaining support system fueled by “super users.”

In both cases, there are four stages to achieving these end goals:

  1. Interest

  2. Invest

  3. Engage

  4. The “one”

While the stages involved are the same for both end goals, they are achievable through different success indicators (obviously you can’t swipe right on a community forum!)

The chart below illustrates each stage involved in achieving the end goal, as well as their success indicators. These indicators demonstrate firstly that the stage has been completed, and further indicate the commencement of the next stage in the process.

Dating versus community-1

Let’s go through each stage and discuss the factors involved for success.

Stage 1: Interest

Alright, this is where the judgiest judgement is made – in this stage, it’s all about first impressions and looks are really all that matters. In the dating app world, it’s about having a good profile picture; one that makes you stand out from everyone else.

There are a number of tips out there that can help you make a good first impression on a dating app. These tips range from shooting photos from flattering angles, to appearing to be adventurous (all the while pretending you didn’t just force your friends to take a few hundred photos of you wandering through a forest.)

Nonetheless, you won’t be a “swipe right,” type of person if you don’t stand out.

The same lessons can and should be applied to community forums. If a potential member enters your community forum and the design is horrid and off putting, the chances of them sticking around is close to none.

To be a “swipe right,” community, you need to have good user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design. In fact, we spoke with some experts in community a few weeks ago, and one of them said, and I quote, “[sometimes] I look at [a community] and personally, I look and think, oh my god, I need to bleach my eyeballs now! It looks horrible!”

I’m going take a wild guess and assume that the community in question is likely a swipe-left type  community. If you want to hear more about what our experts had to say in this particular segment, check out the link to the webinar below.

Branded Community

So, to be clear, the success indicator in this stage is to simply look good – make viewers like your forum. Don’t turn off potential members by having a horrible design. The more you invest in the UI and UX design, the more you’ll ultimately get from your community.

Stage 2: Invest

So you’ve taken the time to look good and have successfully passed the looks-only judgement test. Well done.

Now, in the dating app world, this is when a conversation can begin. Several factors might contribute to whether or not this conversation is a two-way street, including: a) having an interesting bio, b) having interesting things to say, c) having additional photos for the purpose of further judging, and d) not being creepy. In this stage, dating app success is measured by maintaining an ongoing and interesting conversation that doesn’t just die out after a few days.

Funny enough, these tips are directly applicable to a community. The success indicator here is actually getting people to register and sign-up as members of your community. Let’s take a look at these lessons from dating apps and apply them to your community.

  1. Have an interesting bio: Your community has to be interesting and of a topic that’s relevant to the potential member. With good UI and UX design, you can customize the experience of first-time viewers and help them navigate your page. You should have a well written “about” or “community bio” section to tell the viewer what you’re all about.

  2. Have interesting things to say: People are more likely to want to join a community if they are able to see discussions and comments that they think are interesting. You want to have your community customized to showcase the discussions that you think are the most interesting to your member profile.

  3. Have additional photos for the purpose of further judgement: Before a potential member chooses to join, they might want to navigate a bit through your community. It’s therefore important that every page in your community looks appealing, not just the homepage.

  4. Not being creepy: While you, as a Community Manager, certainly wouldn’t be “creepy,” this lesson is applied to the conduct of the members within your community. People generally don’t want to join a community that is full of toxicity and negative behaviour. It’s imperative that your community be regulated in a way that deters and punishes this type of behaviour so that people aren’t apprehensive to join.

Stage 3: Engage

Congrats – if you’ve made it this far in the process, you’ve either secured a date or you’ve gotten a new community member! In this stage of the process, beauty is only skin deep, so now the serious business begins. I would however, recommend to not to break out the crocks immediately; save that for marriage!

In the dating world, now is the time to impress of your date. You want to establish a good connection and engage in meaningful conversations that can lead to developing a mutual bond over some shared ideas and things that you both love and enjoy.

The goal here is to try to secure more dates down the road, so you need to make sure the first one goes well. Establish a good connection and engage in meaningful conversations that can lead to the development of a mutual bond over things you both love!

Here are some quick tips on how to engage your date so that it’s likely to go well: a) ask questions they’ll love to answer, b) listen to what they have to say and respond accordingly, c) talk about things you have in common, and d) do something nice (maybe bring flowers, or pick up the bill).

When looking at your community, the success indicator in this stage is getting your newly joined members to engage with the community. You want to encourage their participation in the forum so that they become an active member of your community. The goal here is to encourage engagement; engagement through not only asking questions to the community, but also providing answers.

Let’s take a look at the lessons that are used for a successful date and apply them here, with the end goal of creating community engagement:

  1. Ask questions they’ll love to answer: The best way to get your members engaged is to recommend questions for them to answer. You want to make sure that your community is easy to navigate so that they are able to find the category of questions that they are able to address. People love answering questions – make sure they are given the opportunity to do this!

  2. Listen to what they have to say and respond accordingly: Listening is one of the most important things you can do as a Community Manager. Listen to what your members have to say and document their feedback so that you can make your community the best experience possible.

  3. Talk about things you have in common: The commonality in your community is your brand, and presumably, they love it. Make sure that your community is customized to include a search feature so that different subjects can be found easily. Further, ensure that your discussion are sorted according to topic and don’t be afraid to break a comment into a new discussion if needed.

  4. Do do something nice: Give members rewards for engagement – I’d recommend including a gamification feature. Gamification is a type of rewards system, where for example, your members can earn rewards, points or badges for being more active in the community. It’s a proven technique to boost engagement, and it’s a little something extra that can make your members feel special.

Strategic Guide to Community Gamification

Stage 4: The “One”

Have you…found the “one!?” After so many successful dates and great memories, you decide it’s time to call it official!

You’re at the point where you’ve developed a mutual bond with that special someone and you want to spend all your time together. You just can’t get enough!

Well, in the world of community, this is what dreams are made of. They are called “super users.”

Super users are exactly what they sound like: super users. They are exceptional members of your community who are more involved than the rest and have a ton of knowledge about your brand. They stand out as highly motivated members of the community, and tend to be one of the first to answer questions.

Super users are incredibly valuable to a community and can have a huge impact on your organization. Some of the benefits of having super users in your community include:

  • Providing quick and accurate answers to questions posed by others in the community

  • Reducing support costs

  • Encouraging engagement and product feedback

  • Stimulate content creation

Well, there you have it folks, take these valuable lessons from online dating apps and use them to better your community. With members who are as quick to judge as a those browsing pics on Tinder, you might need to up your game.

Oh, and Happy Valentines Day!

Community Customer Success

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Sarah Robinson-Yu

Written by Sarah Robinson-Yu

Sarah is the Content Marketing Specialist at Vanilla Forums. Prior to Vanilla, Sarah worked in the public sector where she led and coordinated the strategic framework and operational policy development of business processes.

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