Are you a new community manager or just started a community as a brand? Well done. You are on the right track and one step ahead. Now you have to fill your community with content. Even though most of the posts and stories will be started by your members it is good to kick off a conversation every now and then.
Writing a community post or a ‘welcome message’ to your members needs some special knowledge. In general there are some rules that apply for community writing. When people read your writing, they don’t just interpret its meaning through the words you chose. They also interpret it through your writing’s tone. Sounds a bit cryptic but we got you. Here are our top 10 rules:
Have you ever had to sit through an endless presentation and could not keep your eyes open? Yes? Us too. For community posts as for presentations there is a simple rule: Shorter is better. Try to narrow your ideas down. Think about what you like to communicate and make it as easy to understand as possible. Do not beat around the bush or make your posts into a shakespearean experience. Shall I compare thee to a summers day? The answer is no.
One idea per paragraph
No matter how much you are trying to say, keep it to one idea per paragraph. Jumping between thoughts gets confusing. It will be easier to read if you raise one point after the other. Even if you are James Joyce, in a community post a full-stop is your friend. This ties in with point one – the simpler, the better.
Use conversational language
Ergo, vis-a-vie, concordantly. No idea what we are talking about? This is why you should use conversational language in a community. Imagine you are talking to friends or colleagues. You would not read something that needs Harvard referencing, would you? Exactly. No one wants to use a dictionary or take notes when reading a community post.
One of the very, very essential points in this list. Do not try to fool anyone. Communities are build on trust and lying would destroy it. Even within the biggest cooperations there might be hiccups or mistakes – do not try cover them up. You will see instead of making up excuses to your community members explaining why certain things happened – tell them how it is. You will find out how understanding people are, if you are honest with them.
Community is not a formal dinner at Buckingham palace. Go and have fun with your members. A cheeky joke and some teasing are a good way to connect and build relationships. The heart of every online community are the members that write up the funniest content or give the most heartfelt answers. Banter is key – in on- and offline relationships. You can add this sentence to your tinder profile.
If you have to say the same, say it differently
Sometimes you have to make a point or get a message across to your community members and as in real life, sometimes people don’t understand what is going on right away. There might also be occasions when you want to get a marketing message out and have to post about it a few times to remind your members of it. Copy and Paste was not allowed in school and is not allowed in community – rephrase and see how well that works. Trust us.
Use the active tense
Why cloud the meaning of your sentences – your community is not a scientific report. Using active voice for the majority of your sentences makes your meaning clear for readers, and keeps the sentences from becoming too complicated or wordy. The active voice has a direct, clear tone. Make sure you sound like part of the community – you are not detached from the group.
Confidence is important in life and also in writing. Stand up for your interests and express your thoughts and feelings. It also demonstrates that you’re aware of others’ rights and willing to work on resolving conflicts. Your community members are having an argument? You should be the older sibling and resolve their differences. Your community members are getting into a nasty fight? Tell them off – rules are rules and we are all here to have a nice and constructive conversation.
Please don’t shout
If you are a fan of the exclamation mark, bold font and capitals, well then let us tell you: DON’T USE THEM! A community should be a safe place for everyone to enjoy and no one should be shouted at. So using the above may come across aggressive and as if you were shouting in real life. And we do not want that do we? If you are excited about something use an emoji instead 🤩.
Use what you’ve learned
When building relationships of any kind, referring back to things that have come up before shows the other person that you were listening, and that you care enough to remember things about them. Luckily, as an online CM, you don’t have to rely on just your memory, notes are your friend. Whenever a member shares something about themselves, their family, job, skills or interests, make a note of it and in future interactions with them, refer back to it. Asking them how their grandkids are doing, or whether they’ve been to watch any football games recently shows that you are interested in them as individuals, not just members.