Last week I had the opportunity to share how we’re thinking about @TheCR with an undergrad class on eMarketing at Bentley University. It was a fun discussion and the questions that followed my presentation really got me thinking. While I focused on community management best practices for a good portion of the class, one of the students wondered if I could offer up some community management worst practices.
The simple answer is to just turn some of the best practices around. Instead of welcoming new members, ignore them. Instead of clearly articulating community guidelines, make them secret or don’t have any at all. Instead of not being helpful, be helpful. Wait…. what?!?!
Being helpful is great way to frame most community manager activities… except one. In fact, being too helpful in this case may actually do irreparable harm to your community. So what is it?
Instead of being helpful, take time to pause and let members help one another. Why is that so critical?
- Peer response is more powerful & influential. Encourage that.
- Seeing other members reply models behavior for others. If the norm is for the community manager to respond, it can easily remain the norm.
- Once a perceived authority figure (the community manager) has spoken it shuts down further conversation and engagement.
An over eager community manager might jump in too soon, offer their perspective and unknowingly shut down further discussion. It sometimes takes a suggestion behind the scenes to get another member to respond and that’s perfectly normal. Taking time to pause can be painful, because you may have a great answer and want to be responsive. It may also seem counter-intuitive, but in my experience it’s an important best practice for community managers.
What do you think? Do you practice “the pause?” Have you ever seen it backfire?
Photo credit: Annie Roi