Your social media promotions were amazing! You have a crowd, but now how do you get them to engage?
Take Germany’s Pirate Party, back in 2012, the grassroots political party was at the charge of what they deemed a digital revolution. The party swept onto Germany’s multiparty political scene as a protest of Germany’s traditional politics. They were embraced by 7.8% of voters in the North Rhine-Westphalia region (population: 18 million) in the local election. But when it came to getting their community involved after the vote, virtually no one showed up. They had used their “Liquid Feedback” software to survey their constituents on a controversial ban on circumcision, and only 20 people responded.
So how do you get your crowd to connect and engage in ways that they can organize and collaborate: Recognize that you may be in the midst of a culture change within your own crowd.
Rachel Happe, strategist with The Community Roundtable (CR), developed the “Work Out Loud framework” to outline what you and your crowd can do to incrementally create a more collaborative environment. She notes, community managers and their stakeholders often try to ”jump straight to robust exchanges before a new or immature community might be ready for it.” The framework gives community managers a structure to the community management process along with goals and metrics they can focus on as their community evolves from comfort to connection to trust and partnership.
The Community Roundtable’s Work Out Loud framework defines the following engagement behaviors:
- Validate Out Loud includes liking, sharing others’ posts, commenting, bookmarking or responding to posts. This is often the first visible behavior beyond consuming what people exhibit and is the equivalent of dipping their toes in the water to feel how warm it is in order to assess whether the social environment is comfortable.
- Share Out Loud includes sharing documents, graphics, updates and ideas. People tend to start with sharing content that has been written by someone else or approved and as they feel validated and connected, will start to share their own observations and ideas.
- Ask and Answer Out Loud includes asking and answering questions. Individuals tend to start with logistical questions (“where can I find x?”) and if they find the culture to be validating, supportive and trustworthy they will evolve to asking deeper questions that expose a gap in their knowledge or confidence (“what is the best way to manage a customer situation?”).
- Explore Out Loud includes open-ended questions or questions about ambiguous topics where there is no right or known answer. This requires individuals to feel like the community culture is both supportive and challenging, making it a safe space to explore, admit vulnerability and share half-baked ideas. This stage is where rich collaboration and innovation lies.
The CR strategists suggest that the community’s most valuable behavior in gauging its cultural maturity is the asking and answering of questions, behaviors that should be encouraged, cultivated, and rewarded.
The bottom line: If you build it, they will come. But you have to work with them to get them to play.