Don't Do That! (Communities)

The Oxford Dictionary defines two different types of community:

1. A group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.

2. The condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common.

Let us say then, for argument sake, that community is primarily about the things we share.

Now, the reality is that the weird and wonderful web and the evolution of digital technology has meant more free reign for everyone - Power to the people!

As a consequence, there are now a host of different places for people to connect, share and talk about anything that they want to - whether it's the weather, politics or a brand of baked beans.

Good news, right?

Yes, because where your adoring fans once enjoyed discussing how amazing your products were in great detail whilst strolling through the park, they can now discuss and recommend your products to hundreds of thousands of other people around the world through their new smart phone - hurrah!

Although, that guy  who once experienced poor customer service with your brand can now vent his frustrations openly and without restriction, too - boo-hoo!

Either way, there's still a fantastic opportunity for brands themselves to engage in both of these conversations and offer up a place in which a community can be established, and members can interact and engage directly with the brands about the good, the bad and the ugly. No more hiding - that doesn't work.

The key to a happy, healthy community is engagement and there are all sorts of online resources to help inform community management, but what about the no-no's?

Having merged our experience of managing online communities with the advice presented in Deborah Ng's Online Community Management ForDummies. Deborah Ng, we present Folk's guide to a happy community:

- Don't sell. You're the friendly face of your brand, you're not there to push products.

- Don't be boring. This one is self-explanatory - we humans are curious and we like to be kept intrigued.

- Don't be presumptuous about who you're talking to - this can result in the exclusion of some of your community members.

- Don't take anything negative personally. Business is business, you should only ever be objective.

- Don't be a slow coach - time is of the essence when it comes to social, not that we want to teach our grandmother how to suck eggs.

- Don't interrupt people. While people like to engage with brands, sometimes they just want to talk with one another - know your place, be smart.

Does your experience of community management differ to ours? We'd love to hear about it! Tweet us @folkdigital

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