How trigger levels can help you develop an online community

by Martin Reed on 1 February 2008 in Articles

Community development trigger levels

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.

Your comments

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.

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Zane Friedman February 2, 2008 at 1:10 pm

Hi, Martin – I have used trigger levels in the past, but not as precisely as you explain them here. At the times that I was using them I wasn’t even aware I was doing this. It was more of a “I think my forum is slacking in activity.” type of thing and less of a “My forum didn’t reach my goal for activity, so I have to take action.” thing.


Amish Made Furniture February 2, 2008 at 2:04 pm

Trigger levels as you have aptly put it works in all walks of life. Not just in online communities. You can take this post to apply to any group activity like a business or a class room or whatever. If you are in the moderating, supervising position, you have to use trigger levels. For most effective leaders, this is an intuitive thing and the way they take action at the appropriate time, can be astonishing. If that intuitive sense has not yet been built by experience, one has to deliberately look for them as you have suggested here. But, mark me well, over a period of time, it will become automatic.

guitar hero cheats February 4, 2008 at 2:40 am

I think you also have to have a great passion for what you are doing. If you set a goal of 10 posts a day but they are uninspired then they may do more harm then good. If you really love the topic after a week or two you won’t even need the goal because you will exceed it on your own.

Online Furniture Store February 4, 2008 at 6:08 am

Good post there about trigger levels. I quite agree with Amish there, that this does have something to do with intuition, and i think that once a person figures out whether their intuition is reilable, they can actually count on it.

Content Copy-writing February 4, 2008 at 6:14 am

Really , I appreciate this trigger level action. It would enable more conversion to the internet marketing efforts.

Nicole Price February 4, 2008 at 6:26 am

This is a really good idea. Makes you take action at the right time. I am going to get working on this idea and set weekly targets for my sites. Becoming really slack otherwise.

jcorn February 4, 2008 at 8:51 am

This is really excellent advice for helping me to set goals for my targets and keep focused on those.

Martin Reed - Blog Author February 5, 2008 at 7:36 pm

Zane – It definitely helps to have some firm and established trigger levels. This ensures you don’t let your targets slip and keeps you on top of your site’s successful development.

Ramana – I would agree with you. Many online strategies work in the offline world, and vice-versa.

Guitar – You make a very good point. There is no point having trigger levels if you aren’t passionate about the success of your site. Creating worthless content can be more damaging that creating no content at all!

Reena – Intuition is definitely a great asset to have, but even better is the addition of written down targets, goals and trigger levels!

Content – Thanks for your comment. How about sharing your trigger levels with us?

Nicole – I am glad you like the idea; if you end up using trigger levels, please post back here with your thoughts on how effective you found them.

JCorn – Thanks for your kind comment, and good luck!

Hirsutism February 18, 2008 at 4:30 am

I guess it is very important to set goals and targets. But it is even more important to achieve them. I make a to-do of what I need to do today and I try to accomplish all my work by the end of the day. This is how I can achieve big goals by starting small.

Martin Reed - Blog Author February 20, 2008 at 2:18 pm

Hirsutism – You make a good point. Having goals and targets without actually trying to achieve them is completely pointless. A to-do list is a good way of keeping you on track – just as long as you are disciplined enough to work through it and get those boring/mundane tasks done, too!