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Step 5.3: Ten ways to encourage a positive online community

Community sentiment can be a delicate thing, in many ways an online or app based community is similar to an office. We’ve all been in jobs where the feeling of the environment was unpleasant.  Maybe it was the “take all the credit colleague”, the snide comments around the water cooler or passive aggression. But we also had jobs that we looked forward to going to and that felt fun or interesting. Since we get paid for jobs we tend to stay in less positive work environments until we can’t stand them or  have found something better.

Community membership is voluntary – leaving can be as simple as deleting an app or not visiting a page anymore. Therefore, it’s vital for a community’s health and membership that it stays positive and a great place to be. Here are ten tips from Community Managers on how to keep that positive vibe going.

1. Show gratitude and express thanks

Thank you for joining, thanks for the comment, great job creating that image – show that you’re grateful and always thank members when they help the community.

2. Praise members

Publicly and privately praise members when they act or assume specific roles. Call out extra effort than great shares.

four people laughing

3. Use positive language and avoid complaining

It might sound very 1984, but language affects thought so that means toning down the negative language and rephrasing things more positively.

4. Develop relationships with members

People rant and get angry on the internet because there is an abstraction from the real world, an element of anonymity. Building relationships with members transforms you into a real person.

5. Encourage creativity and collaboration

Being creative is deeply satisfying especially when it’s appreciated by others, so encourage people to think outside the bubble when creating content for your community – you never know if you’ll find the next Jackson Pollock!

A man putting pictures on the wall

6. Make people laugh and relax

A little appropriate humour helps members relax and can defuse a few flame wars. It never hurts to bring some lighthearted fun to your online community. 

7. Listen to your members

Keeping your community positive is a lot easier if you can align what you’re doing with your members desires and expectations, that means taking the time to listen to members.

8. Think before responding when you’re angry

You are going to have them at some point – trolls, moaners, ranters, pains in the butt. It may be obvious but don’t get angry or take the bait, that’s not realistic is it? So at least don’t respond angrily without thinking.

9. Celebrate milestones

100th post, 500,000th member, whatever it is if it’s significant to the community celebrate and that those that made it possible. Maybe do a giveaway or an amazing offer.


10. Remember that members choose to be there

This can be strangely hard once you get used to people being in the community, but everyone chooses to be there and when new members choose to come you’ve got to keep them there.  

We hope you take these tips into account when you’re engaging with your online community. It’s not always easy but it’s important to keep the overall feel of the community positive. You want to create a cheerful environment for your members. So don’t forget, encourage positivity!

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