It may seem odd to do a webinar on how to use the online community to support your goals; you are after all already here. But we wanted to share with you why we think the Club Soda community, especially our private Facebook group, is so important to the journey you are on. You may:
- Already know the value to you of the Club Soda community – but not know really why that is.
- Ponder why some people are really active but you mostly lurk (is that a bad thing?).
- Find yourself dipping in and out and not know why.
- Lapse and not want to come back to the group, but find for yourself how a bunch of strangers really matters!
- Wonder why people who have kept to their goals for some time already are still here.
- Wonder why some people find a community useful and why some don’t (we have 10,000 members but they are clearly not all in the community).
So let’s start there:
Why do some people find an online community useful
As you may know, we use behaviour change science to underpin what we do at Club Soda. We use University College London’s behaviour change taxonomy to guide how we do things and how we want to develop in the future. They list 96 possible tools and techniques, and they have them on an app too, if you ever wanted to download it. They range from just saying something to someone, to penalising people if they don’t change.
What we do know is that the more behaviour change techniques you deploy at a time, the more likely you are to succeed. That does not mean, however, that we will all find the same things motivating or helpful. In the same way as we don’t all agree on the best books to read. For some people, the thought of just talking to anyone, even strangers, about this issue may be too much for them. They may want to read and delve into the science instead or distract themselves with a new hobby.
But many of the behaviour change techniques in the taxonomy involve engaging with others. A good dozen or so, and using my ropy grasp of science I suspect I could up that further. So as an activity, being part of a community is a ‘super’ technique for driving personal change.
Why is community a ‘super’ behaviour change technique
It achieves a number of useful ‘nudges’ all in one go, and does so in a pretty friendly way:
- You learn from others – this is called vicarious learning.
- Checking in (the morning post) is a commitment and accountability.
- You get feedback on your behaviour – both celebrating milestones and encouraging you back on the wagon after a lapse.
- Social support when you feel vulnerable, it is immediate!
- Social support can also be practical support.
- Comparison of a new behaviour with others.
- Approval from peers – people that understand you.
- Road testing a new self-identity.
It also helps you maintain your goals
By helping others you begin to role model the new behaviour, and in so doing you don’t want to let others down.
For me, the community is not just about role modelling, but also about empowering. I get a kick out of the letter of complaint you send to a bar that has treated your request for a non-alcoholic drink badly. It feeds into my activist nature. Together we are building momentum – not just within our community, but outside it too.
How to use the online community
I was about to say there are no hard and fast rules, but actually there are some. Our community rules are constantly evolving to reflect what we have learnt having over 2000 people active in our space. We admin the group far more than I ever anticipated. But then we also have high usage rates. We bust the norms!
But these are some of the things that you don’t have to do if you don’t want to:
- Respond to the welcome messages.
- Post anything in the group.
- Respond to anything in the group.
- Stay away.
- Apologise for posting.
- Put ‘long post alert’ at the start of your post.
To get the best out of the online community here are some tips:
- Remember that no one here can solve your problems for you. We can listen, understand and empathise, but you are still the guardian of your own destiny. But we know you can do it. Because we have.
- Listen to the advice and take what you need. We are all different people and we can only advise from our own experience. Skip over what is not relevant for you.
- But remember that there are people here that have been down the same path, and may be a bit ahead of you. Some of the advice comes from bitter experience.
- Be generous in both how you respond but also how you read posts. Our daily moods also affect the tone of how we write, interpret and respond to things. Try and reflect on the intent of a post and ask for clarification if you are not sure. Usually, people don’t mean anything bad, it may just sound that way.
- Share your milestones and other achievements, and don’t let others’ success put you off posting if you are struggling.
- Help us manage the group by reporting any posts that you are worried about.
Thanking our admins
All of the admins of our Facebook group are members of the online community, who have volunteered to step up and help out. They keep the community friendly, and signpost people to further support when they may need it. We welcome new admins too. It takes a fair bit of work from all of us together to give this group the support it needs. We are really grateful for the admins’ time.
If you want to know more or have any questions, please get in touch with me – you can always email me at email@example.com or message me on Facebook.
Not everybody is on Facebook, and not everybody wants to talk about their drinking there. We are therefore planning to build our very own, completely anonymous online community too (in fact we once had one, but it was so difficult to use that hardly anyone ever wrote anything there!). But we just don’t have the money to do it just now.
Partly for that reason we have been thinking about ways of funding all the great new things we’d like to do – and that is why Club Soda is a “Pay What You Want” movement. You can read more about that here! And please consider setting up a monthly payment to Club Soda, to help us carry on. Or make a one-off donation. You can do both securely in the Club Soda shop.