Community Club Weekly
Issue #58 | January 14th, 2021
Community Club Weekly is a newsletter about building and growing communities, featuring collected tweets, posts and thoughts from various community managers.
Wow. So. We're all living through unprecedented times right now on so many different fronts, and it can be overwhelming having to manage both personally and professionally. As a community builder, not only do you have to contend with your personal life, you have the added responsibility of ensuring your community members make it through the tough times, too. It may feel like you're floundering while community members are looking to you for guidance—and you're not alone. There are a lot of question marks in times of crisis, and it's okay to not have all the answers. Here are a few thoughts and tips gathered from my experience navigating online communities through unusual situations (and not always the most gracefully—it is a learning experience, after all).
First and foremost, you can't prepare for everything. Deep down you may want to come up with a game plan for every single scenario that pops up—forewarned is forearmed and all that jazz—but it's just not feasible. And honestly, that mental doom spiral is not worth your time and energy. Instead, prioritize flexible approaches that can be used to handle a variety of situations. A good time to think through these approaches is when you are creating your rules and escalation strategy—especially since it's common for instances of rule-breaking to kick off reactions that lead to larger community crises.
- What do you do if an unruly band of users decides to take it upon themselves to start a campaign against your community/company?
- What do you do if your platform is used for illegal activities without your knowledge?
- What do you do if there is a country-wide or global event that impacts the lives of a group of your members?
- Who needs to be involved in the resolution and decision-making process for this situation?
The specific event doesn't matter, but the scenarios you think through and the game plan you develop can be adjusted to fit the situation at hand.
Even if you are feeling overwhelmed and uncertain, it's best to be calm and in control when speaking publicly to your community. You set the tone for how everyone should act; members will follow your lead. Try to be open, empathetic, and firm in your decisions and actions. You'll likely have to work quickly, but be sure to act deliberately and take a little extra time to think through what you're going to do and what you plan on saying. There's always the chance that in-the-moment decisions will have long-term ramifications. To give yourself that extra breathing room, if the situation allows you can consider giving brief updates to your community: "We're aware of XYZ situation and are looking into it. We'll check back in and provide any additional relevant details as we work through this."
Crises are a time where you and your community members can come together to feel supported, and you can delegate things to your community members to handle. Figure out who can help and how, and rely on them to have your back while you think through higher level strategies and decisions. Be sure what you are asking is reasonable, though—you don't want to hand off overwhelming responsibilities to members. You could consider having them help with welcoming new members, asking them to point anyone seeking information about the situation to the thread you've started, hosting recurring community events, or whatever might make sense for how your community is structured (e.g. at Reddit, it was typical to reach out to moderators of a variety of subreddits to have them report things directly to us that we may have missed). By working together you can build stronger relationships and increase trust.
It's okay if you don't "execute" perfectly—you were dealing with an unprecedented situation and perfection should not be the expectation. Learn from the experience, communicate with your community, and adapt going forward. Be sure to take notes, too. You can think about this like a post-mortem: days immediately following the crisis are critical for reflection and understanding. Put together a brief summary of what happened, what actions you took, any relevant details from within your community or without, and the outcome. This will help you keep things clear in your mind and let others learn from your actions in the future.
Just know that you got this, and you are not alone!
Upcoming events, from the club and its members.
New Public Festival - January 12th-14th
Community Club Hangout - January 14th @ 5PM ET (that's today!!)
AMA w/ Gene Chorba - January 21st on Forem
Just an all around great conversation about what makes people want to join an online community.
What other great brand community examples come to mind?
How many communities have you seen fall into this pattern of behavior?
Community blog posts and articles from the past week.
A fantastic opinion piece about Substack's recent clarification about their views on content moderation for their platform.
By Jacob Schulz
Great food for thought on what might be needed to transition traditional in-person relationships and community to online or distanced connection.
By Priya Parker
Can a video game help us tackle some of the issues we face in online communities and social media platforms? Maybe not, but Hideo Kojima can try.
By Gene Park
How and when will we know if the recent moderation actions taken across various social platforms actually have an impact?
By Gilad Edelman
A handful of job opportunities sourced from the community.
Growth Manager @ MeetButter
Community Manager (part-time) @ goodgigs
Community Manager @ Beams
Community Producer @ Beams
Community Manager @ Unsplash
Developer Advocate @ Raycast
Community Manager @ Webflow
Alex, who may or may not be obsessed with the new limited edition Oreos that just came out