3 Ways to Avoid Annoying, Offending or Alienating Your Online Community

This week’s topic for class was “Listening and Planning” and it got me thinking; we’ve talked about ways to grow your community and ways to interact with them but what are some basic do nots when it comes to maintaining an online community?

1) To delete or not to delete, that is the question.

Image Courtesy of Search Engine People Blog.

Deleting tweets is something politicians and celebrities have gotten in the habit of doing recently. While I completely understand wanting to delete an ill-advised or offensive tweet, others would highly suggest you didn’t.

Over the summer Andy Beal, author of “When should you delete that tweet?” put together three handy lists one can use to see if the deletion of a tweet is a good idea:

Probably Not:

  • Typos show your human, it’s okay to leave them
  • If different team members tweet the same thing, it shows you care

Probably Should:

  • Duplicate tweets, don’t clog up the newsfeed
  • Tweeted something to the wrong account, tweeted something on work that should have gone to personal (this one is a constant fear of mine because I have my phone set up so I can shift between the two easily)

Absolutely Should:

  • Account was hacked, explain and move on
  • An employee tweeted something without permission, delete and if it gained a lot of attention address it and move on

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve seen however comes from Thompson Reuters as part of their Twitter Guidelines for their journalists, “If a tweet is wrong don’t delete but correct it with a new tweet that begins CORRECTED:

2) Favoring your community over others.

Patrick’s article, “Do Your Community’s User Guidelines Only Protect People You Like?” does a good job of explaining what that entails by asking the question, “do they [your community guidelines] apply to people your community doesn’t like, just like they apply to your members?”

Patrick explains that most communities have guidelines that deal with respect, no personal attacks or disrespectful comments, but sometimes those guidelines start and end with the community members. He gives the example, “I can’t call a member of your community stupid. But, I can call a celebrity or politician stupid.”

Patrick stresses that as a community manager when you say that no disrespectful comments will be tolerated you follow up on that. He follows this statement up by acknowledging that this,

“Puts me in the position of protecting people who I don’t like or even who I regard as terrible, awful human beings…But my belief is that we should be able to discuss any topic (that is appropriate for our community) in a productive, reasonable way. You can dislike what someone does, you can criticize their actions, you can disagree with them – without calling them names, without inflammatory language, without personal attacks. That is the level of discourse I aim for.”

3) Like us, Like us, Like us!

This is what you sound like.

Deb Neg, author of “How to Annoy Your Community and Ruin Your Brand’s Reputation in the Process,” prefers to go the “least annoying, least invasive, [and] most respectful” route possible when spreading knowledge about a company. For example, she refuses to direct message someone via Facebook or Twitter. (“Here’s when it’s ok to auto spam all the people who follow you on Twitter to ask them to Like your Facebook page: NEVER.”)

She points to an article from Assist Social Media by Elizabeth Maness, “One Cool Trick to Get Facebook Likes that We Love,” as a collection of things NOT to do to earn likes. One example being DM (direct messaging) a person on Twitter and sharing your brand’s Facebook URL and asking the person to like it for you by offering to like the person’s page back.

Instead, Ng suggests alternative ways to “earn” Facebook likes:

  • Share content people are interested in. Make your page interesting, informative and entertaining. Have them coming back for more.
  • It’s fine to publically ask them to find you on Facebook if they’re interested in getting more updates.
  • Show your community members where they can find you (“follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for more updates!”)

These are just some of the no-no’s I’ve come across when it comes to managing an online community. Can you think of any others? In the comments below either share a story of something you came across in dealing with a company or a trend you’ve noticed happening.

2 comments for “3 Ways to Avoid Annoying, Offending or Alienating Your Online Community

  1. November 13, 2013 at 11:36 am

    Thank you for citing my work. I appreciate it and enjoyed your article.

    Patrick

    • November 25, 2013 at 3:08 pm

      Thank you Patrick, I’m glad you liked it! Your article was fantastic!

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