Maintaining an online community is much like maintaining a relationship with an individual. You need to invest time and attention in it for it to work.
But if you know what you’re doing, it doesn’t take that much time and attention. These 10 tips will help you manage your community efficiently:
Maybe you’re using your online community to promote an established product, service, or website. Maybe you want your online community to produce its own revenue through advertisements and affiliate links. Either way, your community has to keep growing for it to succeed.
But how will you know if you’re growing fast enough? You need something to compare your numbers to. Figure out how much traffic and engagement you need to reach your financial goals, then be sure to keep up with your progress. That way, you’ll know when you’re doing fine, and when there’s reason to worry.
You can’t blame your members for misbehaving if you never gave them any rules to follow in the first place. Clearly define your community guidelines, and place them in a prominent part of your site.
One of the best ways to make your members more active is to regularly stage events that they can participate in. You should plan these events in advance to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Remember - planning makes perfect. You can check out one of my previous articles, “The Power of Long-Term Thinking”, for a deeper dive on this topic.
Polls are one such event that people enjoy. Everyone thinks their opinion is important. Go ahead and ask for it - they appreciate it when you take their opinions as seriously as they do.
In addition to polls, contests are another event that your community members will love. People enjoy the discussion, but there are no stakes to the discussion. When you add competition and rewards to the mix, your members will really get engaged.
The comments sections, message boards, and social media platforms of the internet are littered with spam. If you allow spam to linger on your site, it will turn new visitors away and damage your reputation. That’s unacceptable.
Depending on the size of your community, detecting and deleting spam might take a lot of time. Non-spam messages must also be reviewed, as you need to make sure your members are following the community guidelines you established. While paying someone to help you moderate your site might be expensive, it might be necessary as well.
Take time to research the people who frequent your site. What is it that makes them stay active? What is it that brought them to your community initially? The answers to these questions will show you what you need to do for your site to keep growing.
Don’t just guess - ask them! It’d be a good idea to ask your members for suggestions about how your community could be improved, too.
People are often unnecessarily mean online. This is such a common phenomenon that Jimmy Kimmel Live! made it into a recurring segment.
So, sure, many (maybe even the majority) of the complaints you get will be worth dismissing. But that doesn’t mean you should dismiss every complaint. Some of them will contain valuable insights. Don’t let those insights slip through the cracks.
Advertising on other sites is an effective method for attracting new visitors to your site. New visitors are necessary, of course, for increasing your membership and growing your community.
As with hiring help, advertising can be pricey. But it takes money to make money. A little investment now will pay off with some big rewards in the future.