Lessons in community from community editors #10: Craig Elder, the Conservative Party

In the latest in this ongoing series, I spoke to Craig Elder, The Conservative Party’s Online Communities Editor, about the 3 things he’s learned about community management:

1. Be a real person

Use your own name when blogging, tweeting, commenting etc. Giving people a proper touchpoint within the organisation adds real value – people are far more likely to be constructive or helpful when they know they’re communicating with a human being rather than a faceless webmaster@ e-mail address.

Getting involved in the conversation (again, using your own name) definitely reaps rewards. A real person responding openly to a critical comment will get much better results than the moderator deleting it.

Exchange information

The community is a great place to collaborate and exchange information. Try sending out a tweet asking for help on a particular subject and watch the replies roll in – it’s not unusual to for people to go one step further and volunteer to be part of the project.

Of course, it’s got to be a two-way process – so make sure you share what you know with others when they’re looking for advice!

Don’t be afraid to experiment

Sitting on your hands and waiting for the conditions to be “just right” before you try something out is going to leave you standing by as the conversation (and opportunity to innovate) moves on.

Being willing to experiment with new tools is one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from the community – everyone prefers something rough around the edges but interesting, rather than something that’s been 6 months in the making and past its sell-by date.

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