Our work in content strategy often involves working with online communities. The principles we use to manage online communities are simple, but not always obvious.
Our three guiding principles:
Treat members like people.If you think of and treat your members like anonymous computers on the other end, they won’t demonstrate any loyalty to you, either. If you remember that they’re real people, with kids to pick up and dentist appointments and careers, you’ll build a long-term relationship with them.
Get the technology out of the way. If it’s too hard, no one will share. Well-managed communities anticipate and remove technical barriers.
The members own the community. Even mighty Facebook has dealt with user satisfaction problems related to their frequent privacy and design changes. Facebook likely won’t suffer much for its lack of user respect because it’s an 800-lb. gorilla, but smaller communities can’t count on members to stick around when they abuse the trust of their members. Likewise, corporate communities must demonstrate either value or C-suite buy-in, or ideally both, for employees to take them seriously.