Successful Online Community Managers Communicate Regularly
No one has to join an online community. They do so because they’re interested in participating in discussions and learning more about what you have to offer. When you consider how many people are busy with work, family and household projects, online community participation isn’t a priority. Thus, you have to create an environment worthy of their precious downtime.
The key to community success is to keep up a steady flow of activity:
Create daily discussion topics. Whether you’re on Twitter, Facebook, or an online forum, if you’re not doing anything to encourage community participation, everyone will stop paying attention. Try throwing out a daily discussion topic. This topic doesn’t have to be anything deep or controversial. Find some fun, lively questions to ask your group. Encourage members to respond to each other.
The best communities are those where members interact even when the community manager is absent.
Hold regular contests and promotions. Reward loyal members with prizes and giveaways. This competition will attract new members who come for the perks but stay for the conversation.
Respond to comments. Community managers who take time to participate in discussion topics among community members and respond to comments, even conversations they didn’t start, are held in high esteem. Participants enjoy knowing that someone in authority cares enough to take part.
Don’t play favorites. Online communities can seem a lot like the high school cafeteria in that there are different cliques and popularity levels among the members. Though cliques are discouraged and a community should participate together, they’re unfortunately a fact of life.
The worst thing a community manager can do is play favorites or be a prominent member of a clique. You’re there as an advocate for the entire community, not just a select few.
Have a backup plan. An absentee community manager can lead to some interesting situations. Perhaps some of the more colorful community members will try to get away with stuff that doesn’t fly when you’re an active presence, or members might drop by and see nothing happening and assume that the conversation is drying up.
If you’re busy or going to be away from the community for a long period of time, have a backup plan. Designate another moderator to come in and enjoy the community in your absence.
Host interviews and guest appearances. Mix things up by bringing in guest speakers for webinars, interviews, and community chats.
Encourage community members to talk about themselves. When it’s all about the brand, things get a little boring. Ask community members about their interests and remember details about them for later conversation. They’ll appreciate your taking the time to get to know them better.
The best communities are the ones where the members all know each other well but welcome new members, too. There’s a steady flow of conversation and positivity. They’re places where members come to relax and enjoy the company of others.