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5 Keys to Managing Your Online Communities

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5 Keys to Managing Your Online Communities

It’s one thing to create and share content on your social media profiles, but don’t think that distributing your content is all you need to do. Static content is great to get people’s attention, but it is human interaction that will persuade them to become customers and advocates of your business. The best way to communicate with people interested in your topic is to create an online community.

Community management = engagement = more revenue

Here are my five top tips to managing your online community efficiently:

1. Determine the Scope and Set the Boundaries

Every online community, be it a forum on your website or a Facebook Group, must have a clearly set purpose ideally around the topic, not around your business. The healthy living forum could be created by a health food shop, the bicycle fans group could be created by a bicycle shop – all these names clearly state what they are about but they aren’t primarily about the business.

If I ran a chain of day care centres for example, my online community could be called “The Busy Mums’ Group”. In this way, I would attract members who need advice and what the support of other ‘busy mums’, and who are my ideal audience and most likely to contract my services.

To ensure that the members understand the scope of the community, I highly recommend you create a “Terms of Use” for any forum or Facebook Group that you create, which covers any rules and expectations you have. This way all members will have a clear understanding of the purpose of the group.

2. Find a Good Moderator

Any forum or online group should be moderated around the clock. So you’ll need to find a moderator to help. A good moderator is not just a Netiquette Police officer in action, but also someone who can start interesting discussion threads, keep the conversations going, answer questions, and can be a recognised go-to source of information for any topic that comes up in the community. The best candidate for employment as a moderator can be found inside your forum or group, someone that shows outstanding empathy and engagement that can support you and your business when you can’t be there.

3. Provide High Quality Content

People join groups and forums because they want to learn something new, to solve a problem, and ease a pain (figuratively speaking). They trust online communities because there are a number of members there who will offer unbiased opinions and advice. High quality content is like honey to bees in terms of social media groups and communities. People will come back for more, they will want to learn more, and it is just a matter of time before they will start reaching out to your business.

4. Get People Talking

People join groups and forums for the content, but the reason they stay usually is because of the engagement. If your entire activity in your community was concentrated on articles, links or photos, it would probably not get a lot of activity from your members. What you want to do is encourage people to share their own experiences, their own problems and solutions. Getting members to share this information is a great and free way to promote your services (without being salesy), and also to gather insights about potential customers’ profile, their problems, and it will give you further ideas to develop products and services that best answer these needs.

5. Remove Trolls and Spammers Quickly

The members in your group will want to feel comfortable and safe in your forum or group, so it’s very important to ensure this safety isn’t compromised by trolls or spammers.

In Internet terms, a troll is a person who enters an online community only to stir controversy, and post negative, insulting and unpleasant comments. Trolls are very efficient in ruining a friendly atmosphere quickly and cause many members to leave the group. This is something that you must prevent at all costs, so don’t be afraid to ban trolls from your online community even after the first offence. The same goes for people who use your community to blatantly promote their own products and services. It’s your community, so make it clear that you won’t tolerate spammers of any kind.

These are my keys to effectively manage a social media group or forum and I am sure that you can apply these tips to manage your own online communities. Do you have any community management tips to add?

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