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5 Tips for Creating Community Guidelines

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As your online audience grows, the community you’re helping to manage will become invariably more vocal.  Good community building is based on creating trust with your audience, and it’s essential to manage expectations to maintain a culture of respect. They’ll want to know when, how and if they should expect answers or content. To assist with this, it can sometimes be helpful to share detailed guidelines with the public.

Below, you'll find five tips from us to help you create community guidelines for your organisation.

1) Be honest about your engagement policy

First things first - be honest.  If your organisation doesn’t have the time (or the policy) to allow you to respond via social media, then say so directly. Unless it is explicitly stated, the public will never expect any online channel to be broadcast only. If you’re only responding to things here and there, explain the reasoning sufficiently so your community doesn’t feel as though you’re discriminating at random.

2) Be consistent

If you’ve established your policy around social media moderation, do your best to be consistent. If you’ve stated that you respond to a particular type of query during working hours, then do so. Consistency helps to build rapport.

3) Understand the channels you’re using

It’s essential to keep yourself knowledgeable the social media tools you’re using and how your messages reach your audience. Pay attention to new features that could assist or possibly damage your community efforts. (i.e. If you regularly use Facebook to share important updates with the public, understand how algorithms change and can affect the reach of your post)

4) Stay alert and keep evolving!

Pay close attention to the channels you’re using to communicate with your community, and the behaviour of your community when they interact with these channels. Are you communicating regularly with content creators and the customer service team within your organisation for feedback? Has your organisation recently changed policies or established a new service?

Always be iterating your community guidelines to reflect the expectations or needs of your community.

5) Don’t forget about respect

Lastly, don’t forget that respect is a two-way street. As a community manager, you should strive to build trust with your community, but you need to communicate with your audience what will and won’t be tolerated. Whenever possible, avoid communicating directly with anyone who includes verbal abuse, racism or other any other type of inappropriate remark.

Make sure you're following @GDSTeam on Twitter for more.

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