Don’t Forget to Write Back

Did you ever have a pen pal in school? I did. I remember sitting down to put pen to paper and always being uncertain where to start the conversation. The format was different than a diary, but I hadn’t yet been introduced to the concept of blogs. It was always so hard to get rolling, but once I had started writing and there was something on the page I felt I could usually write for awhile. And the best reward was getting another letter back in the mail the following month… because writing back is the best way to keep people in communication with you.

Thinking about this process reminded me of the important role that a moderator plays in an innovation community. Usually a moderator has some sort of specialized knowledge: about a department, a project, about how the company is organized and that knowledge helps them route and respond to ideas. But they are also some of the most important participants in a community, because they are the voice and first interaction that most of your community members come in contact with.

That is – as long as they’re keeping in touch with your community members…. In an IdeaScale analysis of our customers, we found that our clients that directed their moderators to respond to every idea (with at least a “thank you!”) and provide updates on a regular basis (something around two weeks) had the most success (meaning they enjoyed more new ideas as well as ideas that were progressing regularly through their innovation funnel).

Now, some moderators might feel daunted – not always knowing what to write the community members. Well, to that end, we’ve created some default suggestions that moderators can use to help guide their conversations in the community.

But if your moderators aren’t responsive, engaged, if they’re not using a mentoring and encouraging tone, it’s likely that people won’t return to further participate in your community, because there’s no intrinsic value to joining the conversation.

What do you suggest for successful community moderation?

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