As a little man, Boba Fett was by far the coolest Star Wars character ever. He had a jet pack, wrist rockets, and an outfit designed with attitude. I never thought about it back then, but his outfit and weaponry was not all that made him cool. And it definitely wasn’t his appearance in Return of the Jedi (worst Star Wars movie and scene ever). Part of Boba’s fandom comes from how you needed to acquire his action figure. And for a nine year old it was quite a hurdle.
Prior to Empire Strikes Back, Kenner (the toy company) created a hurdle for their Star Wars action figure community by offering a mail-in promotion, in which five proof of purchases would be the only way to acquire the action figure Boba Fett. For the first time, everyone couldn’t just go to the toy store and pick up possibly the coolest figure ever. Kenner created a barrier only their most loyal fans would cross.
Historically, I have been a big proponent of making your communities easy to use, easy to access, and providing the least amount of hurdles. Having multiple screens or process steps for someone to register or gain full access to your community limits volume, possible conversion, and the so sexy numbers your boss may like to see. For the most part of the past few years, this has been the strategy for many organizations:
- Providing a freemium product
- “Like us on Facebook”
- Just name and email for community platform access
If volume and impressions are your goal(s), this is a perfectly great strategy. It brings you more possibilities to convert, win over share of wallet, and allows your marketing message to reach a higher number of people. If your goals are about direct top and bottom line growth, you may want to rethink your strategy. In other words, would you rather have 10,000 likes or 100 raving fans? Yes, the answer is both, but requires two very distinct community management strategies. If your goals are about depth of engagement versus breadth, creating barriers to inclusion may be a strong option for you. Some barriers include:
- Pay for app or pay trials (think WhatsApp or other pay for games/apps)
- Develop an acceptance process to join a community
- Detailed information on entry
- The Mafia and other organized gangs have some very difficult hurdles (I don’t recommend)
Remember you are providing access to your community to achieve a goal or a number of goals. Take the time to think about which strategy help you get there, free and easy access or adding in some hurdles. Boba Fett still remains a personal favorite character, and I still remember the day my mom walked in and handed me the brown mailing box from Kenner.
Do you belong to any communities that provided hurdles?
Does your organization make it purposely difficult for customers to get involved?
Did you get your Boba Fett in the mail too?