In last week’s edition of our community series, we focused on how to build your group and create the right culture. Today, we’re sharing advice on how to manage an online community.
Creating, and attracting people to your group, is only half the battle. To keep members engaged and to ensure your purpose and values are upheld, you need to be actively monitoring conversations and activity. It would be naïve to expect everyone in your group to behave exactly how you had envisaged, and from time to time, there may be situations that call for your community host to step in.
This is by no means a bad thing; it can be an indication that your group is gathering momentum, but to be forewarned is to be forearmed, so it makes sense to plan ahead for how you intend to deal with certain situations should they arise. Here are some scenarios you might want to think about as your community grows:
Responding to complaints
When putting together user guidelines for your community, consider including details of how members can complain about content or direct messages. It’s important your members are confident that you’re there to enforce the rules that keep them safe. It’s for you to decide what is the best way to manage your community, but depending on the nature of the complaint, you might wish to give a public response for transparency, enabling you to explain the resolution that was reached and why. You can also use this as an opportunity to reiterate the house rules.
Removing posts or members
There’s a fine, but important, line to tread when it comes to removing posts - allowing for diverse views, whilst standing firm against aggression, abuse, defamation or copyright issues. If you do decide to remove a contentious post, make an effort to speak with the individual, outlining the reasons their content was removed so they can understand how to remain within the guidelines you’ve provided.
Ideally, instances like this would be few and far between and quickly resolved. If, however, unacceptable behaviour continues, you may need to take the decision to remove someone from your community. If this happens, again it is important to communicate the situation to the group as a whole, to prevent rumours and misunderstandings.
Deciding when is right to split groups
As your group develops and grows, you may begin to see recurrent themes and sub-communities emerge, sparking a need to find ways to support these groups. On some platforms it will be a case of simply setting up sub-groups. In others you might need to identify support platforms that are more lightweight in their functionality.
Identifying the driving forces behind these sub-communities can help steer your decision. Who are the most prominent voices in those groups? Assigning these influential figures an official status, like a special interest group host could be a logical next step. These hosts may be responsible for tasks such as organising meet ups with smaller groups or leading discussion around their specialism.
Being agile and adapting quickly to the needs and challenges of your individuals is the key to a successful group, but planning ahead for some common occurrences can help you handle situations with confidence and manage a community online that’s well equipped for the future.
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