Relationships are important. In socio-economic terms, they build social capital, which, generally speaking, builds great positive social change and fosters economic stability and growth. In an online community, relationships are critical to the evolution and success of the community. They are the key ingredient to collaboration and innovation. These things evolve from a group of people interacting in “flow“, a mental state of intense, creative, and purposeful focus. [The term “flow” was coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in the 60’s and has grown into a full-fledged Positive Psychology movement. Read Csikszentmihalyi’s paper on flow here.]
To get to that state, there must be loyalty and trust among group members, and their must be a sense of shared purpose and vision.
In an online community, where interactions are virtual, and everyone is geographically displaced or isolated, how does that sense of trust and loyalty develop? (more…)
What spaghetti sauce do you prefer? Thick ‘N Chunky? Traditional? Old-World? In the 80’s, Prego re-invented the spaghetti sauce market by allowing customers to choose based on their preferences. The idea was a game-changer in the commercial food business. Prior to Prego’s six spaghetti sauce varieties, there was one variety of sauce: Thin and red. This was the top-down, expert-selected, head-chef approved sauce who’s lineage stemmed straight from Italy. If it was authentic, it must be the best, and therefore everyone will want it, right? Prego’s antithesis was “maybe people want a variety of sauces to choose from”. To Prego’s delight, offering that variety of flavors increased sales and put them at the top of the sphagetti sauce chain. Ragu reigned no more. (more…)
Picking up where we I left off on measuring online community engagement, I thought it would be useful, maybe even illuminating (!) to talk about some of the ways you can increase engagement in your online community.
Launching a new community takes some time. It takes time for folks to get comfortable with their new digs, with their new peeps, and whatever it is they feel they ought to be talking about. Consider Cog’s ladder theory on group dynamics. In the early phases of individual interactions in a group, Cog theorizes that members are in a “polite stage” – interactions are simple and controversy is avoided. For an online community, this can be disastrous. (more…)