The 4 types of people in your community

Written by Aidan Wilson

Any brand benefits from building an online community: music artists, record labels, sports teams, podcasts and more. Regardless of the brand or audience, there's one enormously successfully sector which community owners can look to for tips on building a thriving community.

That successful sector is, of course: video games.

Messaging platform Discord is well established as a meeting place for gamers to chat about their favourite games, showing dedication and loyalty that other brands watch with envy. One way to explain this dedication is to look at the motivation and behaviours that draw people to play video games in the first place, and explore how we can borrow those concepts to turbocharge a community.

Let's introduce a framework that categorises video game players into four types:

  • Achievers
  • Explorers
  • Socialisers
  • Killers

This models is known as Bartle's taxonomy, after British writer and video games researcher Richard Bartle. He came up with this system in his 1996 paper Hearts, clubs, diamonds, spades: Players who suit MUDs (multi-user dungeon games).

Let's take a closer look at the categories and see how it translates to community building, and how we can motivate and incentivise each type of member to contribute to a community's goals.

Achievers: Players motivated by achievement

Achievers are motivated by in-game goals, levelling up and finding rare items. They can spend hours working and grinding for rewards, making them not just the most dedicated but also often the most engaged players in a game.

How to engage Achievers: Community managers motivate Achievers by offering rewards which must be earned. That means thinking up opportunities for members to achieve goals, such as competitions or leaderboards. If you have an experience points (XP) system in your community, you can provide members with ongoing motivation to do things like posting messages and sharing their own content, keeping the conversation rolling and drawing in other members.

Achievers often love to show off their accomplishments, so they may chase roles allocated for the completion of specific tasks. Offering a range of new rewards will keep this type of member engaged with your community.

Explorers: Players motivated by discovery

Explorers love discovering new stuff, uncovering secrets and poking about the nooks and crannies of the game world. They are often the most curious and inquisitive players in a game.

How to engage Explorers: Create hidden aspects and point members in the right direction. They respond to teasers for new releases, games and competitions that offer Easter eggs. They also enjoy behind-the-scenes content, like photos, tour diaries and insight into new products.

Socialisers: Players motivated by interaction

Socialisers love interacting with other players. They spend their time chatting with other players, forming friendships, groups and networks. These genuine friendships are the whole point of an online community, bringing people together around their shared passion no matter where they are or what their circumstances are. Relationships like this are also key for engagement.

How to engage Socialisers: Encourage interaction. Hold specific events, and incentivise ongoing conversation. Interaction equals engagement, and engagement is key to a successful community. There are a number of proven engagement strategies to boost growth and retention, driving tangible ROI in marketing and monetisation metrics.

Killers: Players motivated by competition

The name makes more sense in the world of video games than online community, but it's worth recognising members who identify with the Killer category. These players enjoy competition, conflict and the opportunity to dominate other players. In a game, they're often the most aggressive, which isn't something to encourage in an online community. But there are ways to harness a desire for competition among some members.

How to engage Killers: You could create competitions that allow members to play against other members, as long as the level of competitiveness fits the vibe of the community. You don't want a minority of players making everyone else feel unwelcome. A good way of managing this is to create specific channels for competitions, separate from the main conversations.

Your trained community moderators will spot when members in this category are harshing the vibe, and if necessary there are escalating levels of safety tools for warning or penalising members who get out of hand.

You could also reward Killer tendencies which happen safely away from the community: for example, in a gaming community you could invite players to share videos of their gameplay in a particular game, such as killstreaks.

Work with Levellr now to engage your community

At Levellr, we work with clients from music artists like Fall Out Boy and Conan Gray to sports teams and global brands like Starbucks. Together, we bring all different kinds of people together into thriving and successful communities, uniting fans and driving value for any brand.

Contact Levellr today to find out how you can turn fans of all kinds into engaged superfans.

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