Discover Why People Use Your Community
So to get started with habit formation, we have to discover why people use your community. Why do people use your community? So Nir Eyal, who literally wrote the book on this idea of habits, it's called Hooked, you should read it, says, "The user engages with the service "whenever cued by a particular emotion or context." This is sort of the foundation of creating habit-forming products. There's a trigger, and then there's a use. So trigger, and then we do the thing. Trigger, and then we do the thing. Trigger, and then we do the thing. It happens over and over again. Think about Facebook. What's the trigger? You get a notification, you check Facebook. And as Gina said, then you're there for 45 minutes (chuckles). Facebook is built off of the notification trigger check the feed, check the notification habit. It's not a very valuable habit. You don't actually get a whole lot from the service when you get the notification. Your community, however, can be built off of very valuable habits.
So I want you to think about what types of situations, what types of emotions, what types of contexts are gonna trigger using your community. What is going to trigger one of your members to use your community? At CoCommercial we talk about this pretty simply. We know that you have plans for your business. We know that you have, you're workin on projects you're working toward a particular goal. We also know, that inevitably you're gonna hit some sort of obstacle, you're gonna hit a question that you don't have an answer to, you're gonna hit a roadblock, a challenge, a snag, a setback. That's what we want the trigger to be, or at least the main trigger. Whenever you hit an obstacle, whenever you're like oh gosh, I need to do this thing next, but I don't know how to do that, like I wanna be on more podcasts but that means I need to pitch podcasts. I don't know how to pitch podcasts. What do you do? Oh, when I don't know how to do something in my business, I go to CoCommercial and I ask because other people there know. That's the trigger, and then the behavior is go and ask, right? So the trigger happens on a daily basis, let's all get real about this. I run into these things too (chuckles). You know we hit a problem, we hit an I don't know how to do that, we hit a like, okay that makes sense, but I don't know how to see it applies. That happens, we go to CoCommercial and we post about it. Trigger, behavior, okay. The more someone does that the more it creates a habit so there is no other option. It's just, I have a question, I go to CoCommercial. I have a question, I go to CoCommercial. I have a challenge, I go to CoCommercial. We create that trigger. We also have secondary triggers at CoCommercial. Another one of them would be, I just learned something new, or I just got a result, right? If I just got a result, I also want that to be a trigger for going back to post to CoCommercial. I just got a result, I'm gonna tell people how I did it, I'm gonna go to CoCommercial. I wanna share that with people. But that sort of like, that's like a vitamin trigger, as opposed to a painkiller trigger, and I would highly encourage you to select a painkiller trigger (chuckles) for your community, right? Vitamin triggers, you know what I'm talking about, the difference between a painkiller and a vitamin, right? Vitamin, there are all sorts of vitamin-based businesses. Lawyers tend to be vitamin-based businesses. Accountants tend to be vitamin-based businesses. Where there's all these things you should be doing, like taking your vitamins, but you don't do them, and so it can be difficult to market those kind of businesses until you have a much bigger pain, like, oh I got audited, or oh, I have there's some sort of legal challenge in my business. Then it becomes a painkiller. So you wanna look for what the pains are, that are going to cue people to use your community. Does that make sense? You guys wanna give me an example from one of your communities? Melissa, when do people use your community, the Creative Sandbox?
Well, the first one I thought was actually a vitamin trigger, which is when they've created something that they're excited about, they'll share that. But they will also post when they're frustrated about, and they don't do this as much, and I try to seed this by asking questions regularly. Like, what, what are you stuck around? Where are you feeling stuck? To try and get the lurkers to post, because my challenge is, people will often feel like, oh this community isn't for me, because it's only for people who have no problem creating, and look at all this art that's being shared, and this is only for people who are happily creating all the time. And so I've learned that I have to continually seeding, like where are you feeling creatively stuck, what are you challenged by? And that will get people to share I'm feeling really stuck around blah blah blah blah blah, and so I'm trying to see that more.
What if you reframed that to actually triggering people to share in process, instead of finished or unstarted?
Yeah I like that.
Because that pertains to everybody then. Does that make sense?
Yeah absolutely makes sense, and actually I used to share my own in-process art a lot more than I do now, and yeah, my personal art sharing has changed cause I've been doing these short little doodles, so they're like little finished pieces, because they only take me like five minutes to make, but yeah.
They're so cute, everyone should check them out. I mean, cute isn't the right word, but.
(chuckles) No, thank you, thank you. But, no that's great because the reason why I was sharing my art in process, the reason why I do these daily doodles, is to encourage other people to just create something, right? So I love that, that's really helpful, thank you.
Yeah, totally. Another trigger, Denise?
Well in the world of online marketing, it could be, I promoted a webinar and nobody signed up. Nobody signed up for my list in a week, or nobody's opted in for my free thing, or you know, all the things that help us move forward in our business, and gives us that opportunity to serve people, so, there's lots of things.
I like the idea behind that too because then you're also, you are, oh gosh, the word is totally failing me, this is so bad, I'm word poor today. You are, well I'm gonna go a different direction, you're evening the playing field and you're acknowledging that everyone experiences these kind of problems, right? This is a regular part of business, sometimes you do marketing things, and they don't pan out (chuckles). And so, yeah, you're creating that expectation that, hey these things aren't going to work out, here's where you come when that inevitably happens, yeah, awesome. Angie, a microphone.
I actually have a question, which is sort of over the lifetime of someone's presence in your community, their needs will change. If it's working, so, do you kind of have a map where you're saying, you know, after you've been here X amount of times the kinds of questions you will be asking will be different, or the kinds of support your looking for. So is there any thinking about the evolution of your customer's lifecycle in the community?
Yeah, I do, I think that, obviously I think that's a very very valid question. I would focus on your core members and what their habit is, first, and then, yes, as members mature more their habits will change. I think largely they're going to be triggered by the same kinds of things. The specifics might change, but sort of the overall trigger is gonna be very similar. However, they're also going to develop additional habits. Like they're going to have the habit of coming to the community to see who they can help, right? And so, you also want to see those habits. But that tends to happen a little more organically, whereas these kinds of triggers you want to like build in and communicate from the beginning as much as humanly possible. Yeah, Alice.
Since I don't have a community yet but I'm thinking this could be, or I'm thinking this is the trigger because I've been approached about this trigger, which is, regarding the ethical marketing piece where they read something and they're outraged by their own behavior or by the thing that's just sort of presented to them, and then they wanna go talk about it, and they wanna say, oh, or like, you know, the VW scandal, oh I think I have a defeat device, how do I do this now? How do I fix this? And I don't know if that's enough of a trigger.
So yeah, I have a couple of concerns, with that. Which will either help you tweak that trigger, or help you choose something else. One is if your trigger is based on outrage, you're going to have a community that has a lot of rage in it. And that can be a really unhealthy environment, especially when you're trying to build a community around not manipulating people. So that's one thing. The second thing is you wanna choose a trigger that happens as frequently as possible. So are people being outraged by unethical marketing on a daily basis? They could be, absolutely. I mean, yes, let's get real, but also, I think there's probably something that you could choose that happens more frequently. Yeah, I think we might to think about that one a little bit more. But that was a great example because it gives me something, it was a great learning moment, Alice (chuckles).
I'm sitting here with my four month old and I have no idea what to do with him, is the trigger.
Yeah, okay, and that happens at one month, two months, three months, literally every day.
Four month old was just one example.
Totally, totally, yes. So yes, any of those moments in motherhood, in parenting where you're just like, what do I do?
Yeah we've got three hours before your nap. (laughter)
Oh, speaking of that, like, anxiety tension again.
And I really hope you nap. (laughter) Or you didn't nap, what do I do now?
Sit here while I answer these emails please. (laughter) Totally, Nadia.
I'm on a Facebook group for fitness, nutrition, and wellness bloggers, and like I said, they're not very active right now, but when they become most active it's because I've issued a challenge. So it's usually I ask them, do you wanna do a riding challenge this month? And a bunch of them are like, yay, but nobody actually participates after that, so usually I'm the only one posting at that point, so that triggers them, but I'm, I guess that's probably a question too.
Yeah, no, I like that example because it gives us a more positive take on this, which is, your people are naturally very goal-oriented, right? Fitness people, wellness people, nutrition people, they're very goal-oriented. Their whole life is built up as a set of challenges, as a set of goals. So I would say, anything that you can do in terms of member contribution, member engagement, to get them to share their own goals. Or to give them a theme for what goals you as a community are going to work together so everyone's might take a different form, but we're all gonna focus on goals around macros this month. Or we're all gonna focus on goals around PRs this month. Pick whatever PR you want to do, but that's what we're gonna do. And report back to us every day as you work toward that PR goal, does that make sense?
Yeah, total sense.
Yeah, so instead of you saying this is what we're doing, you're just creating a context for it, and then you're using their own, behavior, this is an actually this is an excellent teaching moment. You're using their own natural behavior to your advantage, because they're going to be setting goals anyhow, they're going to be taking daily fitness and wellness action, and so if you can tie their daily fitness or wellness actions to using your community, like Aaptiv does with sweaty selfies and like Team Aaptiv posts, right? You get your confetti every day, such a walking advertisement, but get your confetti, take your screenshot, you post it to the Facebook group, or you post it to your Instagram Live, or whatever, story, whatever it might be. So you're tying the daily workout to sharing in the community. So you can do the exact same thing. This is happening on a daily basis, how can I tie that as a trigger to my community. And you just tell a story about it. And it's gonna take time, it's not gonna be like a you fix this next week thing, but over a couple of months probably, you can really start to make that a habit for people so it becomes a ritual.
That's awesome, thank you.
Yeah, you're so welcome. I'm gonna move on (chuckles). They'll be more time for questions I promise. Okay, going back to Mr. Nir Eyal. Another aspect of habits is actually getting people to invest in and kinda get people to commit to your community. Melissa mentioned lurkers, lurkers may love your product. We have lots of lurkers, who I see their faces every day, like I see them, in our little thing. I'm like, why don't you post? (laughter) But I'm glad you're here. But the truth is, they are, they are necessarily less committed, because they are not contributing work. They don't have a habit of investing in the platform, but they are reading it. I'm glad they're there, I don't want them to go away, really, I love that they're there on a daily or weekly basis, consuming the content, but ideally you want to get users doing work. So Nir Eyal says, "Every time users input data, "they create stored value. "Evernote, Salesforce, and Pandora "provide examples of products which do not "necessarily create burning desires, "but create habits by getting users "to do little bits of work." So like when Melissa talks about posting doodles, or you know posting in process photos, each photo they post is a tiny piece of work, that makes them more invested in the product, and creates, or in the community in this case, and creates a habit. The more in-process photos they post, the more likely they are to do it again. The more value they're storing in your community, cause they can go search their name and see everything they've done, right? That makes that product more valuable on an individual level for that person. Like if you were to take my Evernote away from me, tomorrow, well, one I don't know how I would function. And two, I wouldn't just lose a piece of software. I would lose a decade's worth of work. That's really scary. I should probably find someplace to put that stuff (chuckles). But it's the same thing in communities, is we actually want people to be storing value in our communities. What does that mean in terms of communities? It means having conversations, it means sharing their victories, it means asking questions. Every single time they do that the product becomes, the community becomes more valuable to them, and they are less likely to go away. "The more people use your community, "the more they are invested in it." That was a slip up, and "The more people use it, "the more likely they are to stick around." Now earlier Gina mentioned something, which is notifications. And one of the perennial questions about communities that I have seen and also one of the freak outs that people get about communities, is how many notifications they create. Whether it's a Facebook group, or it's a Mighty Network, or it's a Slack Channel, oh gosh, I've got 15 notifications. I don't want 15 notifications. How do I turn all the notifications off? Right? I don't know how, you know, we have tutorials for how to turn the notifications off in CoCommercial. I wouldn't get rid of those. But I do wanna say about notifications that notifications symbolize triggers of value, okay? Every single notification someone gets, is a symbol of value, because it's someone cheering them on. It's someone commenting on something they posted. It's someone answering a question that they had. It's someone giving somebody a next step. It's a piece of content they shouldn't miss. So I just wanted to pause here, and just remind you that notifications are really about value. Notifications aren't the enemy. In fact, the more notifications someone gets, the more likely someone is to actually keep using your community. So whatever platform you decide to build it on, notifications will be there in some way. And yes, absolutely, some people will want to turn them all off. I will posit today that the people who wanna turn all the notifications off, are not people who are gonna stick around, and wouldn't have regardless. So, don't, kind of similar to how you don't wanna freak out about everyone you know, complaining that, everyone complaining that you're moving off of Facebook, don't freak out about notifications because you have a few people say this is just too much, all right? Now yes, we also wanna create experiences that aren't overwhelming, we'll talk about that. And yes, we want to make sure that people have a way to control their experience as well, but we wanna create more notifications, not less. We just want those notifications to really serve people. And so the more you tell a story about how they're gonna use the community, why that use is a benefit to them, the more those notifications are going to symbolize value for your members as well. Any questions about that? No, we're not gonna freak out about notifications? (Chuckles) Okay, good. All right, I mean this has been a journey for me too, and I totally stole this from Gina. Also I'll give her full credit. She totally changed my mind on this, and now when I log in to CoCommercial, and like right now I've got 37 notifications cause there's a lot goin on this week, right? We've got, there's this content, and people are chatting, and people are writing posts about it. I've got a lot of notification, and I don't freak out about them myself anymore either. I don't freak out and say, oh those are 35 people who need to hear from me, cause they're not. But what those 35 notifications right now mean to me is that people are using the platform, and getting something out of it. Those are 35 reminders that this is an important place for people to be. Those are 35 reminders that we are creating something that people truly, truly value, and depend on. And so I want you to think about notifications as your friend and not your enemy, okay?