Before looking at tips that makes for a successful online community manager, it will be relevant to know what an online community actually is. Let’s start with what is being in a community – demographically, a person belongs to a geographical community, going to church is being a part of a religious community, he/she works in a professional community and friendships are made through a social community. One may be a member of one or more communities, but it is physically and logistically impossible to get all members in a place.
Does that mean that communities will not exist? No – the Internet has brought real world communities together. There is no need to be at a coffee shop or restaurant to meet other members of the community, neither is it necessary to fix a certain time for it. All that is required by a member is to visit a website to meet others, exchange ideas and in general have a lot of fun. Most importantly, a member does not have to wait for weekends or free some time from busy schedules to meet like-minded people, they are available online round the clock. Online community members have an easy and more accessible way of getting together.
However, the growth of a successful and flourishing online community does not happen overnight and you as an online community manager will need a whole lot of skills and specialised tools and techniques to make it happen.
Here are some tips that you will do well to follow to create an effective online community.
- Structure specific guidelines – Have structured specific community guidelines in place from the very beginning. These will help you have a positive community environment where negative and critical comments will not be floated around and conversations will be cordial, polite and respectful. Anything else can be done through direct messaging between members. Do not make the guidelines long and complicated, crisp and short ones make for easy understanding by members. Additionally, have a separate page on your website for these guidelines so that new members can find and refer to them quickly.
- Support networking – The value of your community is only as good as members perceive it to be. Hence, you should devise ways that will make your members communicate with each other and network more. The greater the participation and involvement of the members the higher will be the success of your online community. If you can ensure this, the next step would be members wanting to meet each other face-to-face and even wanting to start their very own Meet-up groups.
- Have an optimised community platform – It is your responsibility as an online community manager to have a website created that is optimised to rank high on results pages of local search engines. This will ensure that your site has great online presence and visibility and can attract new members to the community. You should hire a local SEO company to structure a suitable website, especially one that is the best website development company in your locality.
- Start discussions – Initially, your community members might not start discussions on their own; you have to step in and initiate interaction between members. Have a monthly or weekly calendar in place and add discussion points to them. You should also set the time and topic for discussion. Further, do ask members to provide feedback of their experiences so that it can be improved upon the next time around.
Use these simple tips to enrich the experience of members in your online community.