Community Management And Using An Authentic Voice
There are thousands of forums out there. Forums for every possible subject. Chances are, unless your particular forum is based around a particularly specialist field, you’ve got some competition. What’s going to make your forum stand out from all the other, uh, archery forums on the internet? It could be that you have a cooler theme, a better layout, better mods. It will certainly, to a point, come down to the quality of the users you manage to hold onto. But, since things like theme design may as well be witch magic to a luddite like me, I’m more focused on how the management side of things can contribute.
Think of your rules thread for example. It’s hopefully the first thing that new users read, and chances are it’s incredibly boring. Instead of using this opportunity to introduce people to the real culture of your forums, it’s typically a dry run down of the ins and outs of the forum. Don’t post spam, be nice, don’t swear etc. This is the application of a corporate mentality to a situation that doesn’t require it. Be creative in how you get your point across. Be funny, if you’re good at it. Aside from anything else, people are more likely to read the rules if they’re vaguely entertaining.
This goes for all of your interactions in your community. You don’t need to be Professionalism Bot #425 to be a real community manager. Hang out, have fun, be cool. If someone is being an asshole, it’s ok to tell them they’re being an asshole. You don’t have to find a way to phrase it that like, totally reinforces the strong customer service ethic of your brand, yeah? That would be awful. Be less like the manager of your local McDonalds and more like the landlord of your local bar. People will go anywhere for a burger, but if they like a landlord they’ll drink at his bar for years and years.
Injecting some personality into proceedings makes a lot of typical forum problems a lot easier to deal with. If your forumers like and know you as a real person rather than just an administrator, they’re more likely to help you out when you need it. They’re more likely to behave whether you’re watching or not. They’re more likely to tell their friends that the place you run is pretty cool. If you can’t have fun on your forums, how can you expect anyone else to?
Please like and share if you agree! Obviously. I won’t see it though, I’ll be on my forum, working hard. Talking about spaceships.
Guest post by Patrick Groome. Patrick is the Administrator of the Penny Arcade forums. Penny Arcade is one of the most popular and long running gaming webcomics and organizer of the PAX gaming conference.