Build Better Communities with these 5 Contributor Triggers

392989439_b67c6c5b6dContributors are the people who actually create content in your community.

They may only account for 1-10% of your community, but they’re the most important members since without them, there is no conversation. And so it’s really important for you to know why they come back to your community in the first place.

This way you can focus on those triggers, keep your contributors coming back and build a thriving community.

Here are 5 things that trigger people to contribute in a community:

1. To see who responded to their posts or comments.

People don’t just write things online for the sake of it. They write for other people to read it. When they get a response, that serves as reassurance that people are listening and care about what they have to say.

Recommendation: Focus on encouraging responses to new posts on the community. A great place to start is to respond yourself. Then be proactive in asking others to join in the conversation.

2. The possibility of starting a really long thread.

It’s a community contributor’s dream to start a long thread that lasts a long time and gets a lot of responses.

Recommendation: If a conversation gets a really good start but starts to get buried by other content, bump it back up to the top with a response so you can draw in more people.

3. To build a reputation by answering questions.

They’ll come back to see if there’s any new content they can respond to. They like to be perceived as knowledgable and are always looking for opportunities to chime in.

Recommendation: When you want to increase activity in your community, think about topics that your contributors have been vocal about in the past and ask a question related to that topic. Give people opportunities to share their expertise.

4. To ask for help with something.

A lot of the best conversations in a community happen when a contributor asks for advice and the community comes out to help them.

Recommendation: Make sure you’re building an environment where your community members feel comfortable asking questions and getting help. You can do this by creating some level of privacy within the group, by encouraging members to ask question and by setting the example and asking questions that make you look vulnerable.

5. To crowdsource ideas. 

Contributors love to ask the community for their ideas. Maybe for a blog post, or every day things like what to cook that night.

Recommendation: When someone asks for ideas, help them get a response by recommending specific people who would have good ideas.


What are some other reasons that contributors come back to communities? Share any reasons that you’ve seen in your own experience.

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About the author

David Spinks, CMXSummit and Lifelong student, community builder and writer.


I have been learning a lot about this lately - you can also use triggers in the design of a community. To use your first example, you want to trigger two behaviours: replying to posts, and getting the original poster to check their replies. 

How you trigger people to reply to posts is going to differ. Perhaps you put new questions toward the top of the list, or once someone has read a post the reply box is very clear and prominent. 

Triggering someone to check their replies, and hopefully reply back, requires notifying them of their replies when they have the ability to take action. If replies tend to be lengthy, and you notify the poster on their phone, you risk the chance of not getting a reply, because some people don't like to type for long on their phone. It's better to notify the person when they are at their computer - either through the community's homepage (a la Facebook notifications) or email notifications. 

Just as an aside, an interesting habit I have noticed is that I use a combination of phone and computer to trigger behaviour. When I'm working I let my phone notify me of new Twitter replies and then navigate to the tab with HootSuite to reply. 


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