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7 Deadly Sins of Community Management

By Angelika Lipkin posted Dec 11, 2013 07:04 AM


Presented by Ben Martin, Chief Engagement Officer, Online Community Results, and Anne-Margaret Olsson, Manager, Social Networks and Online Communities, Society for Human Resource Management

Increasing member engagement in your online community can be tricky – and even the most experienced leaders sometimes fall prey to misguided management tactics. Steer clear of these seven deadly sins of community management, and your members will be poised for success.

Deadly Sin #1: Lust (Launching a community with an emphasis on member recruitment)

If your strategy focuses more on recruitment than your existing members, chances are your strategy will fail. Give your current members some love and build a robust community before focusing on recruitment.

Deadly Sin #2: Gluttony (Using too many community features)

It’s tempting to go overboard once you see all the cool things your community can do. But a feature overload will only confuse your members, hindering them from really engaging. Use the KISS principle – keep it simple – when reviewing the design of your community’s homepage. The top three essentials are for members to easily access the discussion groups, member profiles, and privately message other members.

Deadly Sin #3: Greed (Expecting your community to grow too big, too fast)

It takes time to build a solid community. While it’s important to track KPIs and metrics, don’t expect immediate growth overnight. Encourage your members to have at least 25 peers agree to join and collaborate in their community before you agree to create a member-created community.

Deadly Sin #4: Sloth (Failing to do daily community management work)

There are a lot of small, behind-the-scenes details that need attention in any community. Don’t ignore these daily tasks … your members will notice. These tasks include:

  • Making sure all posts within the past 24 hours receive a reply, either from a member or from the moderator.
  • If the community is light on content/posts, make sure either the moderator or a community member starts a new discussion post to the community.
  • Be sure to respond to any community questions that are sent through the help message area.

Deadly Sin #5: Wrath (Overemphasizing or over-enforcing community rules)

Community guidelines are important, but remember that they are guidelines. You don't want the community members to feel like they will be scrutinized for every post they put on the community. This is especially true with consultants that may sell too heavily for your comfort level. Instead of coming down on them with a community violation message, work with them so they understand what is allowed (sharing valuable information) and what is not allowed (straight out advertising).

Deadly Sin #6: Envy (Being jealous of other social networks)

Chances are, you already do envy the success and growth of another community. But don’t assume you’re not measuring up; every community is different. It takes up to six months to two years before a community hits critical mass. Measure the success of your site year over year versus month over month as the former will be more reflective of higher growth.

Deadly Sin #7: Pride (Your community manager is aloof toward members)

Your community manager should be accessible and willing to lend a helping hand when members need it. Give your members the attention they deserve, and your community will thrive.