How to Identify Behaviors That Will Hurt Your Online Community

Knowing how to identify a positive, productive online community is only half the job. Community managers also have to identify problem areas and take necessary action. Sometimes, a problem that isn’t handled properly or swiftly escalates into something major. Sweeping something under the rug never helps. Keeping an eye out for these behaviors and situations will save you from a massive headache later:

  • Cliques: Cliques aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but you’ll want to keep an eye on them because they imply exclusivity. Sometimes when a community clique forms, members band together against other members or authority figures. Most of the time, though, they’re a group of friends socializing online.

    When they begin banding together to “take over” the community, if they have to monopolize every discussion and pile on, or band together to belittle anyone who disagrees with a member of your clique, they’re a problem.

  • Arguments: There’s a big difference between fights, arguments, insults, and respectful disagreements. Disagreement is good; it means folks are speaking their minds. When disagreements turn into fights and insults, chaos can ensue. Community managers need to monitor conversations and steer things in the right direction if they seem to be headed into negative territory.

  • Bad buzz: Is someone using the social networks to talk about your business in a negative manner? In this age of transparency, don’t sweep anything under the rug. Find out what is being said and by whom and discuss the proper course of action with your team.

  • Lack of cooperation: Your idea of running an online community may be different from someone else’s idea of running an online community. For example, you may want to be more transparent with your members, while your superiors don’t want you talking about anything besides community business.

    If your community doesn’t feel you’re being honest or upfront with them, it may lead to a difficult situation. This topic is important, and you have to discuss it with your team.

  • Lack of response: If members aren’t responding to discussion topics or promotions, you have to determine why. There’s no sense even fostering a community if no one is participating. Perhaps you’re not talking about topics or doing things that interest them. Polls and surveys can help you pinpoint problem areas and move things to a more positive level.

  • Members feeling excluded: Not only are communities like a high school dance, but they’re also like the high school cafeteria. Members feel jealous if the most popular people are always singled out or if their concerns aren’t addressed. Take care to include all and create the kinds of programs that include everyone.

Don’t let an issue that seems like a minor problem escalate out of control. Identify issues early and take the necessary action. If dealt with effectively, members don’t even know situations exist.

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