I have previously written about the importance of being personal and why you should ensure your site has personal appeal. Some may question just how far they should share their opinions with their community – particularly when it comes to areas that traditionally raise emotions.
Should you share your political opinions with your community members, for example? By sharing your opinions you may well strengthen a member’s sense of belonging in your community. On the other hand, your opinions may enrage them to the point that they leave!
Why it is important to be personable
Being personable and friendly in your own community ensures that your members feel comfortable and happy. It is all too easy to forget that behind every user name lies a real person – by sharing your thoughts, opinions and sense of humour you are reminding people that you, too are a real person.
Personal relationships are the foundation of a successful community – you must be seen to be approachable and friendly – someone that any member of your community would love to invite out for a drink at the pub!
By being friendly and personable, you are setting the standard for others in your community to follow.
Consider the potential consequences of your contributions
Even if you want your members to consider you as just another member of the community, they will always see you in a different light. They know that you are the administrator, or hold a position of power within the community. They will hopefully feel happy to joke around with you and feel able to approach you, but they will always have the awareness that you are a little different to the other community members.
Should a ‘regular’ community member say something that others do not agree with, a discussion can take a negative turn. If you, as the community developer were to say something that particularly irks a member of your community, that member may feel far more angry or disappointed knowing that it came from someone in your position.
Controversy and suspense can be beneficial
Controversy and suspense can encourage interaction in your community. Be aware though, that if you are going to undertake this strategy, you are playing with fire and may get your fingers burned.
Some members may love a little controversy here and there – but always consider the others that may not like what you have to say. You need to always weigh up the risks -is it worth generating more interaction through a little controversy if you are going to lose a few members as a result?
Know when to keep quiet
At times you may feel you have something fantastic to say. At other times, people may say things that you feel so strongly against you want to dive in and get involved. Before doing so, you should always think about your actions and their potential consequences.
Let’s say someone writes something that politically you are strongly against. Should you get involved and clearly state your thoughts and opinions? On one hand you will be getting involved and potentially generating more interaction within your community. On the other, you may raise peoples’ emotions and alienate some to the extent that they leave.
You may decide that at times, keeping quiet is the best policy – particularly when a conversation is developing nicely without you. I always say it is a good idea to leave a little mystery around yourself, too – if people know everything there is to know about you they may get a little bored. Keep some intrigue, know when to stir things up, but most of all know when to stay quiet!
Don’t stay quiet here! What are your thoughts?
Have you been involved in a particular conversation that you later regretted? What was the subject? What are your thoughts or personal guidelines on when to stay quiet and when to contribute? Share them by leaving a comment below.