Sometimes in communities, small tweaks can make big changes in member behaviour, as well as the environment itself. Here are some tips from my own experience and which I bring into every new community I work with:
Keep sarcasm in check
This can be damaging if left unchecked. It can snowball in extremity, it’s contagious and it puts off new members to your community. It often starts mildly and it can be tempting to let it slide in conversations, but make sure it does not escalate. There IS a time and a place for it, but often not when a member is asking for help, or constructive feedback.
Use conversational tone
I often verbalise a response I’m writing, to judge how it flows and to understand different ways in which it might be perceived. This helps massively to keep your tone right for a community. Overthinking it doesn’t help however, It’s all too tempting to curate and review your comments to the Nth degree – but you can then end up writing soulless articles, taking away any sense of mutuality within conversation.
Share your praise
You’ll have highly-engaged advocates who will be active, regular and open to any kind of contribution you want them to make. These people are heroes of your community, but make sure to save some time and praise for up & comers, new members and those who contribute in different kinds of ways. It’s not always about being the loudest or the most active.
Manage your advocates properly
Love and hate can activate our brains in similar ways. Manage advocates’ expectations properly and make sure that they are always aware that every member is valued. Advocates can often become overly passionate, which can lead to frustration & anger very quickly indeed.
Always think – What’s next?
When posting a response, ask yourself – am I accidentally shutting this conversation down by replying in this way? Can I ask more questions? Can I point the member towards another post, or another member? By asking yourself these questions, you can increase activity in an organic way.