Rewarding and recognising members 🥇- Slack CM Newsletter Issue #10
Rewarding and recognising your members
#1 Always start with your community's 'why'
It's not just dogs who get treats for being good. It's the same with us humans.
Think about stickers children get at school for being nice, or your manager giving you a shoutout for a job well done.
We give rewards to reinforce good actions, so they hopefully happen again.
When it comes to your 'why' or your community's goal for a reward program, think about which good actions you want to reinforce.
Engagement is too simple of an answer. It's a vanity metric.
Additionally, Slack has very few tools that make fast gamification based on engagement (a) possible and (b) cost-effective for most communities.
Think about deeper, more meaningful actions that are obviously seen as valuable in your community.
Some examples of things your members might be doing that are worth a reward:
Giving well-thought-through answers to difficult, technical questions
Writing and sharing high-quality content
Introducing new people to your product and community
Championing community initiatives and hosting local meetups
Giving very useful and direct feedback about your community and product
So in summary, you need to find out what your goal is for a reward program and which specific actions you want to reward and reinforce.
You can play along and do that in your head right now.
#2 Start simple. It's not a program yet, just an experiment
Now that you know your goal and what actions to reinforce, it's time to think about how you want to do that.
Creating a good reward/gamification system is incredibly difficult. Dogs are simple, but humans not that much.
Here are some points to think about:
At what point do you give a reward, i.e. how difficult is it to get one?
How often do you reward members?
Are you going to use a point system with levels?
What is the actual reward?
But hear me out... don't think about those things at all right now.
You'll waste countless hours coming up with a system that people might not even care about.
At this point you don't need a program, you need an experiment.
Quick, simple, stupid.
For example, start giving a monthly shoutout to the members who've started very interesting conversations. No badges or points, just a public shoutout.
If you want to go the extra mile, pick out 1 community member that is truly outstanding, take their profile picture, and add a little badge to it. You can then send them that profile picture and ask them to use it so everyone knows how amazing they are.
There doesn't have to be a system to it yet. You're messing around and understanding what rewards your members care about.
Did the public shoutout not get much of a reaction from your community? Maybe it's useless.
Did that member never change their profile picture to include your badge? Maybe they don't want it.
Whatever you do, you'll learn a lot quickly. In the next section, I'll give you some ideas for simple rewards.
#3 Simple reward ideas
Public recognition: Give shoutouts to members in public channels. Let everyone in the community know how great they are and what they need to do to get a shoutout as well.
Extra public recognition: Share your top members on social media platforms outside of Slack. You can create a member spotlight post for example.
Private recognition: Reach out to some of the amazing members in private. Sure, this doesn't have the hype of public recognition, but it is definitely just as (or even more) meaningful.
A simple real-life reward: "Hey, you're our member of the month. Here's a $15 Starbucks gift card." This literally happened to me. It lacked the personal touch, but hey I love coffee and it felt nice to be rewarded.
A badge on the profile picture: Take their Slack profile picture, and use tools like Canva or Figma to add a little star badge to their profile picture. Then send them the image and ask them to use it. This is super powerful. It lets other members know that this person is special.
A custom emoji next to their name: If your team has some custom emojis, then let special members put those emojis next to their names on Slack.
My favorite - Community Involvement: Being able to impact and shape their favorite communities is something that a lot of members would love. For example, invite them to host an event. Let the member give a talk about their passions. Invite them to co-write a blog post with you. So so so powerful.
#4 What to avoid
There are so many pitfalls with reward systems. Most of them are very avoidable if you just remember these points:
Complexity. It has to be easy for your members to understand the reward system.
Complexity 2.0. It has to be easy for you to know which members to reward. Any program that takes up too much time from you, is a program that will die soon as priorities change.
Conflict of interest. Your rewards shouldn't change the natural flow and value propositions of your community. Don't offer members a Lamborghini for lots of posts.
Lack of transparency: Your members need to know why you're giving rewards to certain people. Explain your thought process, how you choose members, and why you're giving out rewards. We need to know what actions we have to take to get our rewards. Otherwise, it feels like a corrupt system.
Randomly stopping: If you ever feel like a reward system isn't working out, then feel free to just stop. No need to hold on to dead weight. But please let your members know about this. Don't let them think that they've suddenly stopped being amazing. Be transparent about your reasons for stopping the reward system and what you're planning to do in the future. A benefit of starting simple is that you can also stop simple.
I just have to say that while I love Slack, it sucks for any kind of gamification. I am yet to see a tool or app that does it well, and that doesn't cost hundreds/thousands of dollars for medium-sized communities.
In conclusion, out of all the things I've said, I believe having a clear goal and a clear 'why' is the most important thing when it comes to rewarding members.
We are all community people and we naturally love giving people the recognition they deserve. But if we want to create a system that helps us with our overall goals, we need to be more thoughtful about what we want to achieve.
If you have a perfect understanding of what your goal is, what you want to reinforce, and what you want your members to be motivated by, then you're good.
The rest is just trial and error.
Send me some cool gamification/reward systems that you've created for your community! You can send it all over to email@example.com.
More Community Content
How To Improve The Community Member Experience
The Main Online Community Management KPIs (High Effort, High Reward)
How to Automate Online Community Tasks
"Now remember to take a break during this holiday season!!"
I'm not one of those people that tells you to throw away your phone during your holidays.
If you want to respond to members during your break, go ahead.
Do what makes you happy!
Regardless of what you do, make sure you take at least some time for yourself. To reflect, to appreciate, to look forward to the next year.
Big things are happening for all of us.
See you in the next issue
- Kourosh, the Waves Guy🌊