Have you noticed that when you call up your bank, they address you by your name?
Have you noticed that when you phone for an insurance quote, the operator will often address you by your name?
The reason they do this is because it adds a personal touch and makes you feel more valued.
The same applies with online communities – addressing people by their name or username adds a far more personal touch, which will make your members feel more valued.
Keep the community feeling alive
As I wrote in a previous article, it is all too easy for your community to lose its community feeling if it grows without your continued involvement and attention. By addressing people by their name, you are helping to keep the community feeling alive.
Has someone left a comment on your blog? Respond to their comment by using their name – your response is then far more personal and will leave a lasting impression on that visitor.
If you are replying to a forum post, again address the user by their name or forum name. Not only does your member then know you are addressing them, it makes them feel valued on a more personal level.
Decide just how personal you should be
Being personal with your users is about engaging with your members. You should bear in mind though, that not all of your users will want to be addressed by their real names (if you happen to know them).
Learn about your community – if members seem to address each other using real names as opposed to user names, then feel free to follow suit. Bear in mind though that this can be confusing to new members or visitors as you will be referring to people using names other than their displayed user name.
Your members are real people
It can be all too easy to forget that behind those user names and forum posts lie real human beings! Acknowledging your members will strengthen your community. Addressing them by their names or chosen user name will make them feel more valued as a member of your community, and leave a lasting impression.