How To Motivate Your Online Community

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

During the final session of the online communities 101course we tackled the one question that every online community manager wants answered: What is the magic formula to motivating your members so that they engage with and create content. Govloop’s Engagement Strategist, Lauren Modeen (@exilauren); and GovDelivery’s Director of Engagement Services, Joseph Porcelli (@josephporcelli), discussed how understanding both your members needs, and a bit of help from some communication theory will help you fulfill those needs.

Agencies and organizations can also learn from these lessons to increase citizen engagement, bring awareness to causes, and help people understand what goes on behind the scenes.

Maslow, Skinner, and Motivation

Throughout Joseph and Lauren’s presentation they highlighted both Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and B.F Skinner’s Radical Behaviorism theories. Maslow believed that people base their motivation on their needs, and therefore created a hierarchy that explains the barriers that a single person needs to surpass before moving on to the next level. Where as Skinner’s coined Radical Behaviorism states:

  • People are motivated by rewards
  • There is a belief in reinforcement and punishment
  • Reinforcement will increase the likelihood that behavior is repeated
  • Punishment will result in a deceased in likelihood that behavior is repeated

Questions and Answers From Joseph and Lauren

From rewarding to engaged users, to taking conversations to social networks, both Lauren and Joseph tackle some interesting hurdles that community managers often face.

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