What drives an emotional connection with your community?

A collaboration with Todd Nilson, Clocktower Advisors

*Disclaimer: Neither of us are mental health professionals, and there was no advice given regarding specific emotions or feelings. We merely discussed our experiences, and our clients’ experiences, when it comes to certain emotions toward communities.*

Emotions + Community. It was the hot topic this morning when I was a guest on Todd Nilson’s LinkedIn Live show, Talk About Your Community. (Click the image below to watch the 30-min replay! And please contact me if you know the trick to making embeds work in Substack.)

During the show, we wanted to take a deep-dive into what drives an emotional connection with a community. To do this, we thought about a user’s journey with a community and we broke it down into 4 completely unofficial (but helpful) phases:

  1. The visitor phase

  2. The conversion phase (when someone joins/registers)

  3. The continuation phase (continuing the relationship and encouraging more repeat visits and engagement)

  4. The 1% phase (when a user is so motivated to participate that they want to become part of the top 1%)

Listen in to hear about the various emotions that occur during each stage.


Here are some of the tactical tips we recommended when it comes to understanding this aspect of your users:

  • When possible, hold 1:1 interviews with a handful of users to learn about what motivates them to come to and participate on the community.

  • If time doesn’t allow for 1:1 interviews, try to pull together a small focus group to meet all at once.

  • If there’s no time for interviews or a focus group, try surveying your users (or your ideal users if you don’t have a community established yet).

  • Have someone on your Community Team send a private message to welcome new members.

  • Have someone on your Community Team send a private message after a user has published their first post to thank them and invite them to post more.


We covered a number of great examples and references this morning!

What are the emotions that drive YOU to find, join, and be involved with a community (online or offline)?

Todd Nilson is a digital strategy and community consultant. Check out his practice Clocktower Advisors, and I highly recommend subscribing to his newsletter.