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Online Community Managers Should Lead by Example

Your community takes its cue from you. If you swear and nitpick, members will know that this behavior is okay. If you greet everyone cheerfully each morning, however, they’ll follow your example. Even people who are turned on by drama and negativity will either join in on the good cheer, or they’ll get so tired of having their comments moderated that they’ll move along.

There’s an expression that unruly children crave discipline. This is kind of the case with online communities. Online community members are not unruly children by a long shot, but they do need to be molded and guided. Members can’t be expected to act a certain way if they don’t know what’s considered unacceptable.

Being a positive example for your community isn’t difficult and can be put into play by following a few best practices:

  • Treat everyone like a friend. Greet everyone with good cheer.

  • Give helpful advice, not smackdowns. Don’t ever make anyone feel small or silly for asking questions — even questions that have already been asked.

  • Congratulate. Offer good wishes for achievements.

  • Encourage members to achieve their goals. Provide motivation and support.

  • Keep topics on topic. Don’t let discussions stray too far from the original point.

  • Include everyone. Cliques lead to exclusivity. Everyone should feel welcome to participate.

  • Avoid getting sucked into the negativity trap. Count to 10 or walk away before firing back in a heated exchange.

When you care about your community and each individual member, it shows. Your members feel good about visiting and are comfortable returning each day. If they see you using unfortunate language, berating members or griping and nitpicking, they’re likely to do the same.

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