Online communities need care and attention from their developers. Younger communities, just like younger children, need more help whilst older ones may be less demanding. Regardless of the age or development stage of your community, it is important for you to have what I call ‘trigger levels’ that require you to take action when a certain point is reached.
What is a trigger level?
A trigger level is the pre-determined point at which you take some form of action to help meet your goals. If your progress reaches a point where it looks like you will miss your targets, that is your trigger level – your call to action.
Trigger level examples
Your own trigger levels will depend on the goals you have for your community. If you want traffic, traffic and nothing but traffic then perhaps you should have a trigger that forces you to add your site to a couple of directories whenever your traffic falls below a certain level.
If forum posts are what you are after, set yourself a ‘new posts’ trigger level – if the number of new posts made in a day/week/month are less than your target, then that is your trigger to create content and encourage interaction so you reach your target.
Trigger levels should work with your site’s goals and targets
Let’s say your goals for this week are to see at least 10 new threads and 100 new posts in your forum. What if this doesn’t happen? That’s when it is time to trigger yourself into action. If your goals are not being met, you need to do the work yourself and make sure they will be.
The fact is, trigger levels will help motivate you. Rather than forcing yourself to make a certain number of posts or threads on a daily basis, you get to sit back and see what your community can do on its own. If it struggles, you’ll reach the trigger level and have to take action. Then you sit back, and see what your community can do on its own once again.
It can be a mistake to smother your online community; members can smell desperation a mile off! Trigger levels not only allow you to take a break from creating content for a period, they give your community a chance to stand on its own two feet.
Don’t use trigger levels as an excuse for failing to be proactive
By their nature, trigger levels are reactive rather than proactive. This is not a bad thing, but you should never use trigger levels as your only method for reaching your goals. You need to be proactive at the same time; don’t wait for the end of the month to see if you have reached your targets – make sure that you reach those targets by checking your progress regularly and seizing every opportunity that comes your way.
Do you have trigger levels? What are they? Have you used this technique to help develop your online community? Did you find it successful? Share your thoughts and opinions by leaving a comment below.