Asking your community for help (in 3 words or less)

Tim Osborn
LDN - 11 Feb 2016
Tim Osborn
Asking your community for help (in 3 words or less)

When it comes to gathering insight using digital communities, there are a multitude of tools to choose from. Forums are one of the simpler, but with the right questions you can work with people to generate quick ideas and top of mind thoughts. In the wrong hands they can quickly become a place to lump a list of research objectives in the hope that people will be diligent enough to answer them all!

I was recently approached by a client who needed a snappy name for a new concept they were developing. They wanted to use a quick forum to ask customers for help in naming a new service, with answers in 3 words or less. With a range of potentially sexier research solutions on offer as part of their community package, e.g. pop up communities to explore initial ideas, ideation on key benefits and refinement via online groups or a short survey, I was somewhat sceptical on whether they would get many responses or useful ideas.

Lo and behold, customers were literally falling over themselves to answer the brief and get their creative juices flowing. We had over 180 responses to the question and a happy client.

Here’s the gist of what we asked…
We need some help! We are looking for a new name to describe ‘x’. Our idea is to call this ‘y’ but how well does this communicate that idea to you?

Can you think of any better or clearer names that would really make it clear how this solution would work? It needs to be clear and snappy around three words only so it’s quite a challenge but we’d love to know your ideas.

So what could have accounted for this higher response rate, given monetary incentives in the form of a prize draw stayed the same? Here are some potential answers:

  • Giving people a say in real business problems is intrinsically motivating. Helping brands solve these types of issues (however small) is part of the reason people sign up to communities in the first place.
  • There was a sense of challenge. People needed to think creatively and answer a question which was gamified to an extent — answer in 3 words or less.
  • It was easy to get involved and above all fun! Our short and snappy invite contained a genuine request for help and we kept asking ourselves — would I take part in this?

Closing the loop and feeding back at the end was easy — we could simply share the most popular names from the suggestions and tell participants what would happen next. Obviously this approach wouldn’t work in every situation, but ultimately directly engaging with customers and connecting them with decision makers across the business opens up exciting possibilities. In 2016, try involving people in the problem solving process and make them part of the conversation to invigorate your community in the New Year.