Engaging Your Community: The Don’ts - dummies

Engaging Your Community: The Don’ts

By Deborah Ng

Part of Online Community Management For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Being engaging doesn’t mean sending out a tweet or blog post and leaving it at that. You want to invite conversation. Find out your community member’s common interest and create the types of discussions you know they’ll want to dive into. Be careful about bringing too much of yourself into it, though. That’s not what community is about at all.

Here are a few other common mistakes to avoid:

  • Don’t sell. If your community is representative of a brand with a product or service, your community members know why they’re there. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the purpose of your online community is to drive sales. However, being pushy with the sales tactics will clear out your community lightning fast. It’s fine to mention products or drop discount codes once in a while, but don’t spam your community every day, or you won’t have a community anymore.

  • Don’t force the conversation. If you drop a topic and no one responds, move on to the next topic. Constantly asking your community to comment on the same thing only draws attention to the fact that no one is interested in that particular conversation. Move on.

  • Don’t complain. When you complain to your community, you’re not only spouting negativity, but you’re also inviting them to complain as well. Don’t talk ill of your job, your neighbors, another brand, or, really, anything else. Even in a discussion about current events, avoid complaining as it only serves to set the wrong tone.

  • Don’t overshare. Your community has no business knowing certain things. While it’s fun to commiserate about housework, car parts, or child rearing, do be careful about giving out too many personal details about you and your family. It’s inappropriate because you’re representing your business, and also because too many details may make the members of your community feel uncomfortable. You can find plenty of topics to discuss without getting intimate.

  • Don’t be mundane. If you post “I had a cup of coffee” on Facebook each morning, you’re not being engaging. You’re making a statement that isn’t inviting conversation, and worse, you’re being boring. People don’t care if you had a cup of coffee. Also, when you center your community discussions around things that you do, you’re not making it about your community anymore.

  • Don’t make it about you. Online communities aren’t about the community manager; they’re about the members. Being engaging means to find topics of interest to your community members. Having “I” in every conversation gets old, tired, and boring and doesn’t give your community anything to relate to. Make it about them, and it’ll happen.