I just had the pleasure of presenting at Super Forum with my awesome colleagues Calista and Qyana on the topic of seed questions. I can safely say the three of us are borderline obsessed with seed questions and all they have to offer for community engagement. For those of you who couldn’t join us for Super Forum or went to another awesome session during ours, here is a round-up of the top five tips you need to know about seed questions:
1. Seed questions have a purpose for every stage of a community regardless of whether you’re in implementation or beyond. Typically, we talk about seed questions during the launch of a discussion community, particularly an open forum. While this is the primary use case for seed questions, don’t rule out adding some life to a community with lower engagement than you’d like. The purpose of a seed question is to encourage engagement and reduce the social barriers of joining in on the discussion. A member is much more likely to post for the first time (and regularly thereafter) if they see steady engagement in the community.
2. Seed questions pave the way to success and diversify discussions. Depending on the topic of your community, it is not unlikely to see the same topic posted multiple times in the same community. This will cause your members to fatigue on a topic and you’ll see a decline in participation. Seed questions are a great way to ensure your discussions are diverse in nature. You pull from your curated list as needed to mix the topics up a bit.
3. Make sure you have a healthy mix of different types of seed questions (ie: open, closed, specific, and hypothetical). Our friends at Feverbee did a great job of breaking down the different types of questions and discussions (see #4) and explaining how particular types drive engagement. Closed questions (“Do you like chocolate or vanilla ice cream?”) and specific questions (“Which movie do you think will be the front runner of this year’s Academy Awards?”) are great at driving engagement among first time members since they have more succinct answers and there’s less of a fear of being “wrong”. Open (“What are your thoughts on millennials in the workplace?”) and hypothetical questions (“What do you think our sector will look like in 20 years?”) are great for keeping more veteran community members interested and engaged. A healthy mix of all four types will keep your community up and running!
4. Use the different types of questions to generate a broad range of discussions. Similar to #3 above, there are three main types of discussions: status boosting (“Advice needed for moving on to the next level of my career”), informational (“How do I reset my FitBit?”), and bonding (“My favorite movie of all time is Forrest Gump- what’s yours?”). Informational discussions are a great way to get people in the door if you are a more customer service based community and status boosting provides an avenue for your members to share their expertise. Bonding discussions see the most engagement by far, so they are great for a quick pick-me-up in engagement.
5. A good seed question tells a story and has personality—it’s more than a one-liner! This is where the true art comes into play. A great seed question is carefully crafted to tell a relatable story that makes people want to answer. Short, one-liners like “How do you respond to a negative comment on social media?” won’t gain nearly as many responses as something along the lines of “Like many of you, we’re pushing forward with embracing social media channels, but there is a big fear factor around concerns of someone posting a negative comment. I’d very much like to hear from other orgs on the best way to handle if this does happen, (i.e. should we delete, ignore or respond)?” A little bit of context and a splash of personality goes a long way to keep it from sounding like a planted question. #seed
These are just a few reasons why seed questions are an important part of your community launch process. Take a look at our presentation and handouts for some more ideas and of course, feel free to drop us a line anytime to ask us questions!
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