Many Community Managers are fortunate to inherit and cultivate and existing community. Though they will be expected to continue to grow and nurture, the hardest (but to me the most enjoyable) part of the job has already been taken care of – building a community from scratch.
With new websites and services going up each day and new products launching, more and more folks are looking to hire Community Managers to start something from nothing. For me, there’s nothing more challenging and rewarding than building something from nothing. I love watching people first tentatively reach out and then begin full on interaction. When it gets to the point where my community can create discussions without my assistance and interact with each other as they would old friends, I realize I’ve done something right.
I don’t know that I’m a huge community building expert, but having done this for several years with success I feel confident in sharing what I’ve learned with you. Today I give you:
10 Tricks for Building a Successful Community from Scratch
1. Be Welcoming
When you have new guests to your home, you greet and welcome each one, right? Online communities are the same thing. When a new member joins up, be welcoming. Say hello, introduce him or her to the rest of the community and find out how you can help. Just like you’d offer guest towels and clean sheets to someone spending the night at your home, so should you do everything you can to make new members comfortable.
2. Answer Every Question, Comment and Statement
If I was asked what the biggest mistake a Community Manager can make, I’d probably say it’s ignoring the community’s wants and needs. It’s understandable you can’t answer every question sent your way, but if you don’t know the answers, it’s certainly within your power to fine the person who does. Don’t ignore questions or comments because you don’t have the answer. Let folks know you’re looking into it and then find someone who can help.
3. Treat Everyone Like They’re the Most Important Person You’ll Ever Talk To
An important aspect of any community is the ability to gauge the needs of the people who use your services the most. With that in mind, treat every request and bit of feedback as if it’s the most important bit of information you’ve received in a long time. Each and every member of your community is important. The day you forget that is the day you start losing traffic – and reputation.
4. Be Nice
Always be pleasant. Even if you’re on the receiving end of some unfair treatmentor an angry diatribe, be nice. Keep your anger in check and respond to the angry missive in a pleasant manner. Don’t kill your brand and your reputation by calling someone a schmuckhead.
5. No, Really. Be Nice. Always
Count to 10. Step away from the desk. Don’t respond or back off let someone else handle negativity if you can’t do so in a pleasant manner. Always be nice.
I can’t say enough good things about Twitter. Actually, I’m a Twitter addict. Twitter is a great way to direct potential community members without actually having to promote anything. Simply establish relationships with fellow tweeters. Follow people you feel will be a good fit and respond to their tweets. Create a dialogue between other like minded people. Soon they will want to learn more about you and even become members of your community.
Blogs are an amazing community building tool. Whether you build your own blog or visit other blogs and participate in the comments, if folks are interested in what you have to say they’ll want to follow you where ever you go.
8. Don’t Spam
Visiting social networks and blogs for the purpose of building community is all about relationships. When you get all spammy and talk to people only to promote your links or services it’s a turn off. Get a good mix going. When you’re part of the scene and folks like you, they’ll check out your links. Spend 90% of your time socializing and the other 10% promoting and you’ll see the results.
9. Be Transparent
Don’t lie and don’t hide things from your community. Let them know you have an open door policy and you’ll be as honest as possible. Community is all about trust. If you’re caught in lies or trying to get one over, it will be a long time before anyone else will trust you again.
10. Listen and then Speak
If a member of your community is reaching out to you, listen before you speak. Take time to research the situation from every angle before responding. Don’t interrupt or accuse. Listen to concerns first. Make sure you have all the details, then respond in a pleasant manner. The most important part of being a good communicator is to be a good listener.
What are some of your favorite community building tips?