Do you know who your most important members are? You should be able to name them all right off the top of your head. When I wrote the article, ‘20 questions for online community managers‘, two of the questions were related to identifying and recognising your most important members so I thought I would expand on this in today’s article.
Step One: Identify your most important members
How do you decide who the most important members of your online community are? They are NOT necessarily:
- The most popular member
- The longest registered member
- The member with the highest post count
Forget the numbers. That’s the easy (and the flawed) way out. Determine who your most important members are by knowing them.
I identify the most important members of Female Forum based on:
Forget about numbers – I want to see well-thought out, interesting and focused debate. I would rather see one high quality discussion started each week than five snippets of irrelevant rubbish posted every day.
I want to see maturity. I want to see them representing what the community stands for. I want to see them welcoming new members.
I want to hear feedback, comments and suggestions. I want to see members being proactive. I want them to report abusive posts. I don’t just want to hear what’s good about the community – I want constructive criticism, too.
Step Two: Recognise your most important members
Once you have identified your most important members, you need to ensure they know you recognise them as such. Don’t send them a message telling them they are your most important members. Be more subtle. Give them extra responsibilities and influence within the community. Maybe you could get them to draw up a Bill of Rights for members. Make them feel extra special (they are). These are the members you want to keep.
The more ‘ideal members’ you have, the more you will attract. You shouldn’t be the celebrity of your online community – your members should be your community’s only celebrities.
Step Three: Remain professional and impartial
Every single member is important. Even the ones that don’t get involved. Make sure you never publicly give preferential treatment to your more important members.Your community guidelines/rules apply equally to all members. Just as you expect exemplary behaviour from your moderators, this ethos should be transferred to your more valued members. They need to know that just because you are giving them extra privileges and recognising their value, they are not to push or bend the rules – indeed, they apply to them even more than usual.
Step Four: Continue the cycle
Although you have identified and recognised who your most important members are, remember that this list will not remain static. Other members will prove themselves worthy of special recognition in the future. Existing ‘ideal members’ may leave or become less active.
There are no shortcuts here. You need to be able to know your online community’s most valuable members, and the only way you can do that is by being involved in the community. Personality and attitude can’t be measured with numbers – if you determine your most important members by such rudimentary means you are being lazy, and may be making a huge mistake.
How do you identify and recognise your most important members? How do you determine who your most valuable members are? Perhaps you disagree with me and think all members are equally important? Share your thoughts, opinions and experience by submitting a comment below.