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What Raising a Dog Teaches Us About Community Management

We spend a lot of time thinking of about communities — from development and sustaining to growth and beyond. Recently, the topic of community development got us thinking… Raising a community can be compared to raising a child, developing a political movement, throwing a themed party, or playing a sport. It also got some of our canine enthusiasts to thinking about key comparisons as well. Read on for our dog-friendly musings:

1. Positive reinforcement goes a long way.

Your community rules explain what type of activity you don’t want to see, but it’s essential to encourage desired behavior. See a thoughtful post or comment? A veteran member helping a new one? Use verbal and written praise, or even a small gift to show that’s what you want to see more of. Rewarding members is a tremendous asset.

2. Activities and entertainment are key.

As a community manager, it’s important to keep providing ways for members to feel involved. Share new content as often as you can, start discussions, ask engaging questions, and prompt creativity. If you don’t give them enough new elements to engage with, your community will get bored and find other ways to entertain themselves.

3. Regular check-ups (or check-ins) ensure good health.

Ensure the hard work you’re putting into your community is paying off by checking in regularly. The site you use to house your community should give you information about total and active users, post frequency, and overall engagement. You can also use Google Analytics to see things like which forum discussions are getting the most views or where on your community site users are dropping off. Due diligence and sensitivity to your community’s health will safeguard a long, rewarding experience for all.

4. Build trust through positive experiences.

You never know what type of communities your members have joined previously, and it’s possible they will be wary of you if they’ve felt put-off or antagonized by another brand’s community. Commit yourself to creating positive, personalized experiences, especially when welcoming new people.

5. Don’t discourage communication; it can actually be a good thing.

Vocal community members are an asset, even if that sometimes means they’re vocal in opposition to something you’ve done. They want you to know how they feel, so take the time to listen and respond when people raise concerns. Develop a great relationship with your community by checking in with community members, opening up to feedback, and recognizing the needs of your followers. Community engagement is most valuable when conversation exists.

6. Handle issues and accidents quickly and calmly.

Everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes people get worked up and can’t keep themselves from letting out a not-so-nice comment. And by all means, don’t let problems fester! The longer you allow something to continue, the harder it will be to re-establish appropriate behavior. By establishing a thorough moderation plan, you’ll be able to quickly remove inappropriate content and keep your digital home clean.

7. Provide opportunities for socialization.

A huge part of community management is encouraging members to engage not just with your brand, but also with each other. While each member is unique, they have all joined your community out of shared interests or needs. Use your content and discussions to give people the opportunity to contribute their personal experiences and connect with other members.

A lot goes into raising a great dog (they’re not called “Man’s Best Friend” for nothing) or an engaging community. As dog lovers, we take that responsibility very seriously, but as community experts, it’s core to our every day!

Side thought… Now all we need is an online community composed entirely of dogs; 12/10 would give treats to all new members.

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