I’ve been speaking to news organisations’ community editors on the lessons they’ve learned from their time in the job. Today, Angela Connor, Managing Editor/User-Generated Content WRAL.com and GOLO.com
1. Acknowledge good work
As a community manager, it is important to make your members feel valued and appreciated. When you come across a great blog, interesting comment or great photo, send your compliments to the author, and do it publicly on their profile page or directly on the content.
Remember, you’re the community leader and your opinion matters a great deal. So don’t be stingy with it. Positive reinforcement goes a long way, and it will make that member feel valued and vested. Once that happens, they’re in for the long haul.
2. Ask for help
As the person responsible for the well-being and growth of the community, it’s easy to feel and operate like an island, putting all of that work on your own shoulders.
But as the community grows, so does the number of stakeholders. Use them to your advantage.
Contact your top posters and most involved members and ask them to greet and reach out to new members. Ask them to work on a community-driven FAQ. Tell them what kind of content you’d like to see more of and ask them to help you build it.
Not everyone will jump right in, but you may be pleasantly surprised by the level of response.
3. Know when to walk away
Community management is a tough job and there are days when it can be extremely stressful. From trolls running rampant to direct abuse from visitors and an overflowing inbox filled with pettiness, sometimes it can really take its toll.
When you find yourself feeling like your head is going to explode or as though you’ve reached the end of your rope, get up and walk away. Or better yet, log off the site and just take a deep breath.
Find a message board for community managers and vent with like-minded souls familiar with your plight. And remember, there’s always tomorrow.
All good advice. Can Angela (or anyone else) recommend "a message board for community managers" for the next time I need to vent.
Interesting and true. Having been the community manager of the citizen journalism project HasseltLokaal in Belgium, I have also experienced that it is very important to find a balance in acknowledging somebody's work. In the beginning I sometimes pampered the citizen reporters too much. Which made the egos of some grow so much that they felt better than other citizen reporters. In other words: I find it ok and necessary to acknowledgde people's efforts but it's important to not exaggerate.
Nick, try managing communities.com. It’s a good place to vent with like-minded community managers. Tell Patrick I sent you. Oh, and Dorien, I know about the creating monsters with all of that acknowledgment. It is certainly something to keep in mind when doling out the compliments. Everything in moderation.
Many thanks to Paul for seeking my input on a topic that is dear to my heart.
Check out e-mint too, a great email list on yahoo groups for community managers. Largely UK/Europe based, but it does have contributors from all over the world. I’ve only been on it for a few weeks but am really glad i found it!
I’ve printed off this article and stuck it to my wall, there’s some great advice here.
Thanks Caspar – have signed up to that.
You have great insight to community development.