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4 Awesome things I learned at FeverBee’s Tactical Psychology Workshop

This week I spent two brilliant days at the stunning and awe inspiring Royal Institute of Great Britain, home of the Christmas Lectures and decades upon decades of historical scientific discoveries. I wasn’t there however, as a sample to be experimented upon (or maybe I actually was), but as a delegate at the annual FeverBee SPRINT London workshop and conference, Europe’s ONLY event specifically for Community professionals. This was my second year attending and my eagerness to learn from the awesome speakers was just about able to lift the bleary gloom of the 5.30am train I was travelling on from Leeds to make it in time!
So, what happened? Well, the first day saw around 45 professionals from across Europe be enlightened, enriched and inspired by a full day’s Tactical Psychology Workshop, led by FeverBee’s brilliant founder, Richard Millington, and covering topics such as Motivational Theory, Cognitive Biases, Psychological Mind Hacks and Persuasive Communication to help us increase engagement within our communities. I’m going to briefly summarise this first day by talking about the four main things that I learnt.

Fix your Call to Actions.
Many websites and Communities often have near pointless calls to action in their buttons, links and messages, that neither inspire people to take action or engages them with what they actually want to achieve. To remedy this we should look at using Self Determination Theory (SDT) to align these messages and CTAs with our users’ core motivational needs. SDT looks at three internal needs that we have: Competence, Autonomy and Relatedness. Linking our messages to these needs can really begin to make the connections in people’s minds that clicking on the link you present them will actually help to satisfy one of their needs; a need for improving a skill, or one for being able to take control of their learning, or even a need to belong to something. A good starting place for this is to create an inventory of all the Calls to Action that you currently have in and around your community. Thinking about where people may first hear about it, this could be (although by no means restricted to):
  • Webinars
  • Your Home Page
  • Registration Pages
  • Confirmation/Welcome emails
  • Newsletters
  • Blog Posts
Once you’ve got an inventory, you’re going to need to look at replacing any standard, non-engaging CTAs with motivation-driven messages that really speak to the needs of your members.

Hack your members’ minds!
Aside from the ethical discussion around this (there was only one person in the room who potentially found the issue to be contentious) the benefits of hacking deep in to the minds of your members, and potential members, is vast, if you can just learn the basics of how to approach it and build an understanding of your members’ potential irrational biases. Richard gave us some really great insights into using a variety of heuristics, in a similar way to how savvy restauranteurs might play with you on their menu to order the most expensive things. The Availability Heuristic includes providing a short time span, specific benefits, being visual and telling a story – something potentially like “Join now in 30 seconds”; the Anchoring Heuristic, where we make decisions or form opinions based on the first piece of information that we receive. Here things such as average behaviour, first impressions and social proof come very much into play – you could do this by highlighting the high value posts, or posts with a high response rate; the Affect Heuristic and how our emotion and state of mind guides our decision. the better your mood is, the higher the benefits seem and the lower the risk. This could include using feel good or even bad news stories to show positive and negative angles, questions versus answers. A great example that came from Richard was for a health and fitness community – “do you want to get fit” or “how to avoid injury and illness”; and finally the Effort Heuristic, where the perceived value of something is determined by the effort being put in to building it. Efforts around this could include using your user levels to increase state and building out your ambassador programmes and what they might include. This was a big learning point for me but also one that I’m yet to develop a battle plan for. I’ll probably revisit this one in a future post!

Changing peoples behaviours.
I’ve already written on this blog previously about knowing why your community exists, but Richard asked the question to the room, what business are you in? Only 20% of attendees had the word community in their job title who potentially says a lot about where we’re at as an industry and/or discipline right now, but the question is valid. Perhaps the term of Community Management is being outgrown and it’s important for us to think of it from a different angle. Are we actually in Retention? Or Innovation? Perhaps we actually work within Customer Support or Success? Whichever it is, it’s important to be sure to understand it in order to begin building an idea of who your members actually are, what their behaviours currently are and how you’d like to change them; what’s the behaviour you want to see them displaying instead? Consider why people are displaying the current behaviour, what’s driving it? Is it their personality (motivation/values/attitude etc)? Or is it due to social norms, where they don’t see others displaying any other type of behaviour? Maybe the environment is wrong for them and the perceived effort is too high for the value returned? Or maybe the rewards aren’t evident and the value is  seen to be neither worth it or relevant and perhaps not returned soon enough? Once you have a better understanding of these, then you stand a better chance of switching things up to better accommodate and appeal to your different types of members and convert their behaviour to align with what you want to see.

Persuasive Communication.
One of my favourite sessions of the day was looking at the language we use, along with the rhetorical devices we employ to try and persuade people (members) to change their minds and opinions. We were looking at moving people along a mindset axis, where some people are against something, some are undecided, and others are favourable. We learned that it was best to not try to move someone the full length in one fell swoop, and in fact was better to try and get someone that was against something to become undecided about it first, and then attempt to convert them to being favourable later. An interesting point to further understand here is that much of this persuasion happens before you even open conversation, rather depending on:
  • the credibility of the sender
  • the style and content of the message
  • the mindset of the receiver.
As such, understanding the mindset that your community’s members might be in when they come to engage is important, so that you can approach changing their minds in an appropriate way.Richard gave us some great tips for moving people between the stages, such as planting doubt in the minds of those against and asking what would persuade them to change their minds. Surrounding the Undecided people with believers, providing them with evidence and relevance but also providing them with emotionally based arguments. and for those already in favour then you can rally them with progress and affirmations. Two examples we looked at, from opposite ends of the spectrum, were a Barak Obama speech and a post that sparked the recent Reddit revolt! Again, this is a subject I’ll probably post more about in time, but it’s fair to say, blog posts are a great way to start employing some of this one 🙂

The workshop was simply awesome and it’s unlikely I’ve done it justice in this recap, however, it’s helped me to begin to digest what I learned and start to put some context around how I can begin to use Tactical Psychology in managing the communities I manage. Learning points from an equally impressive Day Two are coming shortly!
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