Keys to Awesome Community Management
I don’t know what you do when you wake up, but the first thing I reach for (well, the second, the first is my alarm clock) when I wake up, is my phone, specifically to check my email. Why, you ask? Well, because while I was asleep, the Startups.com Community was active, asking questions, giving answers, and making connections. And if something I have to look into happened, I’ll probably find it in my inbox, waiting for a resolution.
Since the first time someone spoke to another, the chance of people not getting along has been there, and it’s still there today. Web communities are much like real-life, physical ones, some times, you need someone to step in and see what the solution to a particular problem is, and if you’re on a website, that someone is the Community Manager.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all about putting out fires with fire extinguishers, but that is something that a good community manager should do without causing upheaval in the community they’re trying to manage. Here are some tips on how to better manage your online community, no matter how big it is:
- Be patient: not everyone knows how your site works. You might have to answer questions that seem obvious to you, but not to the user who asked it. You can’t make people feel stupid, so if you’re getting the question via email, remember to write the answer as politely as possible. (Hint: if you keep getting the same question time and time again, it’s probably better to create a how-to or faq section where you can refer people to).
- Get the right people in: when you see a user participating in a way that benefits your community, reach out to them. Being an active member of a community isn’t for everyone, that’s why you need to reach out to someone who’s going the extra mile and making your community better. Every site has star users, it’s the Community Manager’s job to find them and nurture their participation.
- Moderate, don’t Meddle: Moderation is needed in most online communities, but sometimes, extreme moderation can impact a community’s growth negatively. You need to let your community blossom on it’s own, you might see something you don’t like, but as long as it doesn’t offend anyone and doesn’t differ from what your community is about, let it be. Chances are, that if your community doesn’t like something, they’ll get rid of it or tell you about it before you find it (and that’s awesome!).