This article is a comprehensive guide to building an authentic and consistent online community. It seeks to help individuals who are new to the world of creating an interactive space online as well as established brands whose goal is to expand audience reach through digital networks and social media platforms.
In this digital era, words and insults have no boundaries. Bullying and harassment are easily masked with “just being honest” and freedom of speech. Blades cut, but words cut deeper. Words, especially from other people, can easily validate a person or make them question their self-worth.
With the practice of disguising witty insults as funny jokes becoming increasingly normal, how can one create a safe online community for everybody?
Building a safe online community requires more effort and careful planning than it sounds. Setting up a business page, gathering members and generating engaging topics and discussions will inevitably spark a multitude of questions for the people assigned to fulfill it.
Some of the most commonly asked questions about creating a safe community online include, “What online platform would best cater the needs of the members?”, “What is the main purpose of building a community?”, “Is it to share a common hobby or interest?”, “Is it to help promote a business and generate sales?”, and “Is creating a safer online community necessary?”
Types of Online Communities
Despite having different purposes and goals, online communities can be categorized based on the kind of people it attracts and the kind of platform these people dwell in. Some online platforms are designed to provide convenience to users while others are created to assist in increasing sales.
Setting a sound purpose and defining an efficient platform are the two most important and effective strategies on how to build an online community. Knowing the different types of community online helps determine the “ideal” members to attract and the best platform to utilize.
Social communities dominate social networking sites, with Facebook and Instagram as the most utilized platforms. Twitter and LinkedIn are also used by businesses as they give adequate customer reach. Creating or joining a social community is an effective move for brands to enhance their marketing strategies, increase brand awareness and improve customer relationships. Market trends are easier to identify and review since most competing businesses at present utilize a common platform online.
Professional communities provide an avenue for people with the same professional path to gather and exchange conversations focused on same work experiences and struggles. Professional communities pave the way for young professionals to learn more about the boons and banes of the job. It also serves as a channel where experienced or tenured members give work advice and recommend smart career paths. Available job vacancies and new discoveries that are career-relevant are easily disseminated among the members as well.
Created mainly for entertainment, interest communities make room for people who share and engage on a specific hobby or passion. Here, members utilize visual media such as images and videos, to create a fun and engaging space for the audience. Members encourage each other to do the same or to support shared posts as a gesture of genuine interest.
Communities Based on Circumstance
Whether the purpose is to overcome an addiction, find helpful pregnancy advice for first-time moms or build a small social circle for fellow college freshies waiting for an admission letter, communities that highlight specific personal or social circumstances gather people who share a common plight in life. New members often look for tips and encouragement from “older” or experienced members to aid them in their current situation. Regardless of how big or how small progress results are, members share it with each other to give inspiration to other struggling members.
Support communities mostly benefit business owners. These are commonly utilized by companies to enhance their reach and address issues faced by the customers in relation to their products. Giant companies such as Apple and Google utilize this strategy to monitor customer feedback and provide answers to FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions).
Automating moderation can be the real deal as it can offer high scalability and efficiency. However, it is still important to remember that other content requires reasoning and deeper interpretation that only humans can do. That is why it is essential to use automated moderation in conjunction with a human-powered moderation system to make the best out of it.
Constituted mostly by brand advocates, advocate communities are composed of shared information and brief reviews of a certain product. Some advocates do so out of admiration for the brand, while some are created by companies to generate good feedback. Most businesses see it as an effective strategy on how to create a branded online community. This type of community is usually seen by companies, particularly those selling electronic devices and appliances as an asset. Several consumers typically check online reviews about electronic goods first proceeding to purchase one.
The Importance of the Safety and Reputation of the Online
An online community should be a place of fun, engagement, communication and learning. Similar to the real world, respect and discipline are needed from each member to ensure the wellness and safety of the group. There is no way of knowing when a pleasant and engaging environment could turn into a hub where scams and other illegal activities are carried out in secret. Such instances could easily drag the group and every member to public embarrassment and worse, lawsuits. Luckily, from a digital perspective, peace and order can be kept even before possible damages are concocted.
10 Tips to Build Safe Online Community
Building a safe space online is easy if priorities are specified and determined before it is created. Cultivate and create a safe online community with these helpful tips and tricks:
1. Consider Visibility Of The Community
Determining an online community’s visibility is a crucial factor to decide on. Communities that are open to the public or exclusive to a selected group of individuals only, each have corresponding perks and benefits. Depending on how easily a community can be accessed by non-members, it can either benefit or pose a risk to the reputation of the group or community in the long run. Take the time to consider whether accessibility to the public is needed to gain more members and exposure or not. Here’s a tip: A closed option is recommended if the group is mainly ethnic, political or religious in nature.
2. Set The Right Tone
The tone is the general character and attitude of a community. Thus, it should provide a message of security and well-monitored atmosphere to repel potential hackers and spammers. Establishing clear warnings in the form of moderating abusive and malicious comments will give a sense of discipline to individuals interested to join the group. Setting the appropriate tone is one of the key factors to consider if one wants to create a safe online community . Rules and regulations should be made available for interested people to read and consider before clicking on the “join” button.
3. Practice Anonymity
Some online communities and forums utilize anonymity to thwart off potential identity thieves. Contrary to what some people assume, enabling or requiring anonymity does not impede community engagement. Anonymity draws more communication and networking since members do not worry about their reputation and social status. Indeed, anonymity paves the way for online trolls and bullies to wreak havoc, but that is also why employing moderation on community sites is a must. Hiring a moderation company can easily address and control attempts of some individuals to harass or scam fellow members online. It is one of the most well-known and effective strategies for safer online communities to thrive even when privacy and anonymity is implemented.
4. Find The Right Moderator
Hiring a moderator does not guarantee an immediate outcome, but employing the RIGHT one does. There are companies such as Chekkee, whose expertise lies in online community moderation for a vast selection of platforms. Their moderators are passionate on maintaining community reputation and wellness 24/7. Some companies utilize AI tools while others hire human moderators to keep communication and online discussions free from demeaning behaviors. For better service, human moderators with sophisticated AI tools would be the best option..
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5. Evict Trolls
Trolls often conceal themselves behind fake profiles or dummy accounts when joining social groups online. Unregulated members and failure to authenticate accounts could easily give the internet trolls easy gate pass to the community. Trolls should be banned and identified immediately to prevent them from doing more threats and damage to the community and its reputation.
6. Verify Shared Contents
Copyrighted media are effortlessly downloadable and easily tampered with nowadays. Without someone to moderate and supervise content submitted by community members, the unauthorized use and distribution of copyrighted content could crowd the feed. Likewise, trending memes, photos, or videos could have latent implications on specific groups of people and it would be bad for the community reputation if such behaviors are supported. Videos and images should be checked before it is allowed for everyone else to see and reproduce. Doing so assures that the grounds on which it is posted uphold the regulations of the group and it also lessens the amount of offensive photos or videos posted in a platform or group.
7. Ban Sharing Of Fishy Links
Scams and frauds get their victims online mostly by sharing fishy links that direct them to downloadable malware, activated spyware tools or to health insurance pages that require the input of personal information and even credit card details. Compared to photos and videos, links are incredibly easier to share. By moderating shared clickable links, members are protected from following through them and falling for the schemes of criminals.
8. Attend To Site Problems Quickly
Everyone is vulnerable to an online attack, and they become more exposed when there is an existing glitch on site. These instances are opportunities for unwelcome guests to pretend as website administrators or owners and take advantage of the situation. When issues arise, these should be addressed or consulted to IT experts immediately. Make it a regular habit to scan for site failures on schedules and create containment plans to keep situations in control from an anticipated attack in the future.
9. Establish Concise Posting Guidelines
Creating guidelines will help members know and check the viability of their posts before submission. The implementation of concise guidelines makes creating a safer online community easier and more achievable. Members are given the opportunity to answer a series of short questions drafted from the posted guidelines and help them discern the nature of the post before publishing it. Otherwise, the community’s posting process can be arranged in such a way that members are redirected first to the posting guidelines before submitting a post.
10. Encourage a healthy Community Culture
Using a Positive Reward System to recognize the role models of the group encourages other members to do the same and motivates the role models to maintain their passion for the community. Reinforcing favorable behavior can also be used as an easy trick on how to engage online community members to be active and interact while maintaining harmony and peaceful relationships with everyone else.
A significantly dedicated place such as an online community entails safety as the top priority. While it is difficult to look for moderators who can commit themselves wholly to the responsibility of content moderation, there are companies who are willing to take over the weight overseeing user-generated contents and member activities on different communities online.
For instance, Chekkee is an established company known for exhibiting expertise in Content Moderation Service. We provide moderators to protect users from hackers, halt online harassment and put a stop to the creation of illegal networks.
Although several building online community best practices are readily available on the internet, only a few stress on the importance of community safety. All communities fulfill a specific interest or need.
It is through these communities that members get the news and updates around the world. Members share the feelings and sentiments with each other. They recommend a better solution to the baffled and encourage bolder moves to the fainthearted. Perhaps the most satisfying advantage of an online community is how it makes members feel that they are not alone in this world.