In the latest in my series of interviews with the people who deal with online communities as part of their job, I speak to Ning‘s Laura Gluhanich. Laura started at Ning in 2007 as a Community Advocate. Prior to that, she spent 4 years in restaurant management in her native Michigan. As acting Manager of Support at Ning, she manages the front line of community feedback regarding the platform. She spends her time at http://help.ning.com, http://blog.ning.com, and http://twitter.com/lauragatning.
Here are the 3 things she’s learned about community management:
1. Know and treat your community as individuals
Each person on our platform has created a network or belongs to one. Each member of my team is familiar with hundreds of networks and their Network Creators. This familiarity leads to better support because we know a fan network for a band is different from one that is used to collaborate in the classroom, and can respond to their needs better with that knowledge.
2. Be flexible
Community guidelines are there for a reason, and consistency is key to providing a great environment for people to engage. That said, there will always be unique cases where you will need to be creative with a solution that benefits all involved.
3. Show your humanity
The larger your community gets, the less you are looked at and treated as a real person. It is important to provide context and explanation for changes and decisions, and to admit mistakes to your community. Your communications and online presence should reflect your personality.