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5 Ways to Humanize Your Community Interactions

5 Ways to Humanize Your Community InteractionsStrong online communities are built on strong interactions. Here are some things you can do today to humanize your interactions and strengthen the bond between your community and its members.

1) Leverage Signatures

Often, someone with a username like LakersFan246 will end their post or comment with their real first name. If this happens, begin your response with “Hi Kevin” rather than – “Hi LakersFan246“. Your user is showing a subtle sign of trust in the community and will feel good about having that sign engaged.

2) Follow Up on Any Shared Event Information.

Many times when people are asking a question from a community, it’s related to a timely event.

(i.e. I’m preparing for a presentation…  My son’s birthday party is next week… I’m training for a marathon…)

Even after the original question is answered, it’s great to follow up with a comment asking how their event turned out. This shows that you are listening and care about the happenings of your members.

3) Highlight Your Newest Users.

Add a panel to your community homepage that displays the names and/or avatars of your most recent members. this will (1) help those users feel welcomed and (2) encourage seasoned members to warmly welcome new users into the community.

4) Reach Out and Say Thank You.

This is a trick I’ve used a bunch of times over the years, and to be honest it’s something that doesn’t get done nearly enough.

When you see someone who is making strong contributions, send them a private message thanking them for being a part of your community.

This simple act of appreciation goes a long way and almost always solidifies continued engagement from your active users.

5) Interview Your Users.

Perhaps the best way to reward your active user base is to set up a user of the month program, or create a “10 questions with…” series. (here is a good example from the community associated with hip-hop artist Tonedeff.) These actions help expose the commonalities between your users and are great ways to facilitate personal interaction.

What other suggestions do you have for humanizing your community interactions?

Photo cred: lukeroberts

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About the author

Mike Alber

I love preaching the values of customer centricity. I've spent time working as an active Community Manager for a software company, and also as a strategic consultant to community teams at a dozen global consumer brands. When I'm not working you can find me snowboarding, attending Hip-Hop concerts or drinking an IPA on my porch.

7 comments
ambreen11
ambreen11

Great post to read.. As you build your social media networks, the need to stay connected to your communities is more important than ever. You can continue to increase your post frequency and targeting, but building relationships with your fans goes far beyond just  reaching them directly. Humanizing your social networks is a must in order to attain and retain your community. And here’s how: Look at this website http://www.buraq-technologies.com  that has strong community interaction.

MrJay
MrJay

I am starting a new career and a new community at the same time.  Short of driving around the country buying single beers to each new community member, the snail mail reach out is a nice touch.  The funny thing is, a phone call just seems so strange to make.  Maybe that is in the category of "too much information."

One constant thread in all the media out there about comm managers is the need to cultivate.

Cheers!

DavidSpinks
DavidSpinks moderator

@MrJay I was skeptical originally when I started calling users for Zaarly.  I thought people would get annoyed.  I was completely wrong.  They loved it.  Some people would talk to me for half an hour or more.  And everyone was impressed that a company cared enough to call and learn about them.

meghankrane
meghankrane moderator

Handwritten thank you's are always great to receive, and it's also good practice to follow-up with members of your community that you have reached out to previously. An unsolicited check-in with a community member, especially one that hasn't been active recently, shows them that you care. It's about building those relationships one hug at a time.

MrJay
MrJay like.author.displayName 1 Like

As debng noted, #4 is critical.  I am a new community manager, and I am acting under the assumption that every member needs to be carefully cultivated, thus at least one personal private message.  But, I love the idea of a thank you card being sent via snail mail.  That sort of brings more life to the community member, getting something that is real and tangible.

debng
debng like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 4 Like

Great post - I think #4 is the most important item on this list and the most overlooked. For BlogWorld NY in June, we sent handwritten thank you cards to all of our attendees to let them know how much we appreciate them.  When you make people feel special and appreciated, you have their loyalty.

DavidSpinks
DavidSpinks moderator

@debng Love it. Any time you have an opportunity to make people feel special is an opportunity to create an amazing customer experience and win their loyalty.

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