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How Community Managers Keep Us Connected

There’s no question that 2020 has been a year for the books. 

Humans have always craved connection; we’re social beings! During a time when the majority of in-person connections aren’t recommended, our need for digital communities is even greater. We might be a bit biased, but we’re lucky to have specialists like community managers trained to provide guidance and support, facilitate conversations, and create a sense of inclusion and stability when we need it most.

Good news — online communities are everywhere. They’re on social media, in forums, behind paywalls, on blogs, even hosted by brands and organizations. While an online community could theoretically exist without the presence of a community manager, the overall health and wellness of the group is put at risk without their oversight, especially during a tumultuous or difficult time. What is it that community managers provide that make them so essential? Let’s explore the benefits they offer members.

Provide Connection

At their core, communities help people connect with others that share similar interests or values. Their purpose is to provide a central meeting point for folks to discuss, learn, and share their knowledge or interest around a particular issue. Struggling with homeschooling? There’s a community for that. Attempting to learn guitar? There’s a community for that. No matter what the community’s focus is, community managers get to be the facilitators of that connection and conversation.

There are many tactical examples of how community managers can provide the basis for connection, but the key takeaway is that communities need leaders to lay the foundation for that connection. They may set up rules and guidelines to adhere to, establish badges based on participation, or set up topic areas specific to more granular discussions. Community managers are trained specifically to foster and grow communities, and that’s a skill we need now more than ever. 

Create Healthy Collaboration and Lead By Example

Online communities function similarly to real-life interactions. There are avid participants, wallflowers, and, unfortunately, the occasional troll. It’s the important job of the community manager to show up, lead by example, and encourage participants to behave cordially, rationally, and free of toxicity. This is particularly true during a time when folks are craving more authentic and genuine connections. Community managers can offer inclusion and empathy, which is vital when connection is so limited.

Additionally, participants who are new to online communities, especially those who are venturing online due to global circumstances, might not understand proper internet etiquette or behavior. Community managers have the unique opportunity to set expectations not only through the community’s guidelines, but through their own behavior as well.

Facilitate Conversation & Activity

Many people join communities simply to observe, but many others join in the hopes of having thoughtful, intentional conversations with other enthusiasts. Most communities need assistance developing a thriving existence. Community managers can help facilitate and encourage these conversations through a variety of methods. They might pose discussion topics, create specific topic threads, run contests to encourage participation, and keep things fresh and exciting.

Whatever avenue they choose, community managers often spark the initial connection between community members, which can lead to lively discussions, camaraderie, or even innovation. And this is precisely what people are looking for when they join communities — even more so during a time when real-world meetings are somewhat restricted.

Navigate Tension 

There are bound to be moments of tension in any community or group — it’s the nature of bringing humans together. But specialists like community managers are trained to moderate, de-escalate, or even remove problematic members when uncomfortable situations arise. While this function of community management is not anyone’s favorite part of the job, it’s a valuable and important aspect to maintaining a healthy, viable community.

Expert community managers do this by monitoring conversations, keeping an eye on member dynamics, and reminding problematic users of the community rules and guidelines on a regular basis. At the end of the day, people want to feel welcomed and supported by their community, and it’s the job of community managers to make sure everyone is getting that without added tension or negativity.

Community managers have traditionally added significant value to their organizations and groups, but their role is all the more beneficial in uncertain times. They know how to make people feel supported, build and facilitate conversations, and provide a sense of community and connectivity — which is so deeply needed right now.

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