What To Listen For (and how to act on it)

We're commonly told to listen, but rarely told what to listen for.

Go to any community, and look for three things:

  1. What sort of information people ask for.
  2. What members tell each other about themselves.
  3. What people do in the community.

In a previous community, we noticed that people liked to post what equipment they used on their profile page. They also compared different types of equipment. We incorporated this into a specific profile question and created a category solely for equipment comparisons. 

Likewise, members liked to subtly boast about which events they had attended, so we made this a profile feature too. Members could choose to list all the events they had attended. 

In one community, members always debated who was the best in their field. This also became a profile question and an ongoing poll. 

In another community, members spent a lot of time talking about upcoming events. We created a place in the community for this. 

If you know what sort of information members seek for and the format they like it, you can create areas in the community solely for this. If members frequently ask questions related to a specific issue and like simple tips, you can create a place in the community for this. 

If you know how members like to create their identities, you can help them do this. If members like to refer to the famous people in their field they've met, or post photos of themselves with famous people, you can create areas where they can do this. If members like to display their collections/equipment in photos, you can create a specific place for this (and let other members vote on it).

If you know what members do in the community, you can incorporate this in to what you do. If members like to debate politics, you can create a place just for this.

Listening is fine, knowing what to listen for is better. 

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