- Vincent Boon, CEO, Giants Technology;
- Darren Gough, Founder and MD, Island23 Ltd;
- Nancy Kinder, Knowledge and Community Management Consultant; and
- Mhairi Underwood, Head of Community, The Student Room Group.
Managing online communities, from a community managers perspective
- News monitoring: Managers must be aware of external trends and events that occur outside of their community that may impact posts and interactions amongst users.
- Data sharing: They must also be concerned with users sharing personal information in private messages, and encourage users to keep personal information to themselves for safety purposes.
- Cultural awareness: The understanding of, and consideration to, multiple cultures is also an integral part of their role as the world becomes increasingly interconnected. This connectedness can cause cultural clashes online and must be closely moderated at all times.
- Why is little known about online community management as a main job function?
- Do online community managers fall into their position by accident, rather than by design?
- Why do users of online communities not realise that community managers are real people doing a job behind the screen?
- Why do organisations with a need for online community managers not fully understand why they need to exist?
- Why isn’t there a support network in place to provide online community managers with the tools they need to perform their job? There are some resources available to online community managers which can be found on the Trust & Safety Profession Association website.
- A safe online environment: Online community managers have a duty of care to create a safe online environment for members.
- A safe offline environment: Online community members who meet online may meet offline; some community models are created for this specific reason. Managers can, and should, communicate safety tips, such as not sharing personal information and meeting in a public space. Further discussion around the duty of care offline is required for the industry to meet an agreement on a standard for where duty of care ends.
If you’re an online community manager and need to report harmful content visit the Report Harmful Content website.
- Training, sector recognition and career progression: Training and support for online community managers would help raise professional career recognition of the sector. It is important that online community management is seen as a career and not a job; the sector needs experienced managers to bring ongoing innovation and acquired knowledge to the profession. Ongoing training for managers would help standardise processes and procedures and also develop the experience managers the sector requires.
- Create a common set of guidelines: In line with training for workers in the online community management space, the creation of best practice guidelines for the sector would assist managers in their approach to managing situations they may have not come across before.
- Signposting information: Many new managers to the sector do not have the contacts or knowledge of where to go when they need assistance. A single repository for information would bring the community together and could contain all the information and tools required for a community manager to do their job. The US-based Trust and Safety Professionals Association has created a single webpage that brings together existing resources and community management guidelines.
- Mentorship: As online community managers often do their jobs alone, a mentorship programme for the sector would significantly help to connect the community and aid in the transition of knowledge from managers who have worked in the sector for a number of years to newer sector members.
- Developer and user collaboration: Tech developers and online community managers need to collaborate in the development of technology for mutual benefit. Developers take the user experience of online community managers to help inform design and build better solutions that will in turn improve the working life of online community managers, whose needs will be met with the creation of new tools.
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