10 Tips On Running Online Communities

The web is becoming an ever-changing society. There’s social media and networking and groups and forums (fora).  All these user communities can compliment your website or blog or can form a strong society of their own. Here are a few tips to run your own community or be a part of one.

  1. Serve the common interest:

    A community is a group of members who have a common interest. For a successful group to last make sure that it is served. Many online communities never even take off because they perhaps lack this common interest or fail to serve it.

  2. Be open to change:

    I can’t stress this enough. Things work a certain way. And if they work that way for too long members get used to that certain way. But evolution is a positive sign of a growing and successful community. Thus when new things happen consciously make sure that you are receptive to change. Be comfortable and you get complacent and stagnate.

  3. Be open to feedback:

    New ideas come in all the time and if they do, you must be lucky. Encouraging feedback is one thing, being receptive is another. Most of these ideas are discarded at their face value. But remember – every idea starts small. Discuss and collect opinion and allow the idea to evolve. This is the art behind cherishing and nurturing ideas. Big corporates are open to feedback. The better ones cultivate ideas this way. Ideas are floated around till they receive substantial inputs and evolve enough to be passed to the higher management. You’d be surprised how far these ideas can take a community.

  4. Agree to disagree:

    You can’t agree to every point of view. So when you disagree you don’t have to put it like that. Respect the other persons’ right to disagree. Open up the channels of communication, brainstorm and explain why you disagree – rationale and logic go far. This ensures that you make sense and why you (have to) disagree. It shows you deserve to disagree without making it personal or rude.

  5. Take dis-accord offline:

    Getting into personal arguments in the group is an absolute no-no. If there’s one take it offline keeping an admin or a moderator in the email loop. That way the spirit of the community prevails. So next time you are annoyed, reply to a moderator or the person directly instead of hitting “Reply to all”. I bet most of these issues are just communication problems.

  6. Don’t force your opinion:

    You simply can’t force it. Everyone is a free spirit so such attempts turn ugly or disappointing at the least.

  7. Learn to agree:

    Never be ashamed of agreeing to the other members if only after an argument. I’ve seen this become an issue a lot of times. A disagreement comes to a stand where no party is willing to agree. Don’t let that happen. If you are a moderator be a catalyst to the process of agreement. If you are on one side of the fence, know that no one won an argument – ever.

  8. Cultivate a culture:

    This one is so important. That’s the reason why some of the top vacancies in corporate world take months of interviews to select a candidate – they make sure if they’ll adapt to the culture. Now you can’t interview individuals for membership but you can ensure that your community has a culture – an environment that is conductive to the growth of the community. For the internet it is nothing more than a certain style of communicating and participating.

  9. Learn from the successful:

    There are a lot of communities around. Some are more accommodating than the others and the same goes about their success. Learn from these communities. Of all communities I know there are some wonderful like the Mozilla group. They always invite feedback, discuss it, respect other members irrespective of their profile and in times of dis-accord they are quick to take things offline and clear up the air.

  10. Don’t forget to have fun:

    A small line out of whack or stupor can form a chain of emails where everyone can share some smiley’s in a while. Such light-hearted communication invites dormant members to look up the thread and may be if only grin.

I’m sure you’ve been a part of one online community or the other. Which one do you follow as an example? What’s one thing you like about them?

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