Community Management: The Basics

As an admin, you’ll need to wear many different hats to build and manage a thriving, healthy community.

In fact, it can be a full-time role at companies like Discord. So, let’s learn a little about a skill commonly known as community management.

Luckily, it’s easier than it sounds if you focus on the mantra of all great Community Managers:

  • Am I setting a good example?
  • Do I know what my community needs?
  • Do members feel included and that they belong?

Here are some tips to make sure you’re the best community manager that you can be for your members.

Setting Expectations and Leading by Example

The first thing you’ll want to do as an admin is to set good expectations for your community. Having a clear mission or purpose for your community is often the first step. Ask yourself:

  • Who are you gathering and what brings you all together? 
  • What do you want to achieve with this community? 
  • How are you going to do this? 

Once you have a clear purpose in mind, it’s a good idea to share it with all of your community so they join in and share it with others. 

Your community members will be looking to you for what to do and how to behave. Getting involved in conversations and posting content that encourages a positive environment that supports your mission are two great (and easy) ways to lead by example.

Likewise, you’ll want to prevent any conversations that have the reverse effect. If hateful or otherwise harmful content and behaviors aren’t discouraged, users may be confused about your community’s purpose or believe that this is acceptable. It is not. 

People are always more likely to engage and find community in a space where they feel comfortable, safe, and advocated for. 

Don’t be afraid to put your foot down on harmful conduct. Remember, you’re setting the example—encourage the kind of community where anyone can belong and your members will follow.

Get To Know Your People

You want your community to know that you’re not some magical being, but a human being just like them. So be present and accessible. Have real, genuine conversations with your community and be responsive to questions they may have. This means responding to feedback, asking questions, and jumping in voice channels when your members need support.

Wondering how to give your members what they want? The only way you can balance your purpose with member needs is by knowing what your members’ needs are. This means speaking with your members and getting to know them so that you understand what they need, what they want from your community, and how you can support them.

Getting a good feel for your community’s motivations and interests also helps you really find out what kind of content is going to be a good fit. Do they want to show off fan art they’ve created for your content? Discuss your super-cool new game that just came out? Reach out to members 1-to-1 or ask for feedback in small groups. Encourage positive content and let the creativity flow!

Building Flywheels

By getting to know your community, you’ll be able to develop a strong bond with them. Once your server has become more established, your community may start to take on some of the responsibilities and routines you’ve set in those early days.

This is called creating flywheels. For example…

  • You may manually welcome each new member as they join in the beginning, but soon your members welcome others the same way.
  • Your community regulars lend a helping hand to new member in need while you’re away!

Remember, this is a give and take relationship. If you see someone taking the initiative to help out, thank them and gently guide them as needed.

How to Maintain a Healthy Community

Now you’ve created an amazing community and got to know them, how do you maintain this amazing environment?

Really, the answer is the same as it’s always been: making sure that you’re fostering a sense of belonging and making sure new members feel at home straight away.

But as you grow, you’ll need to scale your approach. For example, making sure that every new member is welcomed in a way that makes them feel included is particularly important. An easy way to help people feel included is to introduce personal roles, such as pronoun roles, or allow people to self-select their interests.

You also want to make sure that your members feel heard—especially as your community grows.

Holding regular events and talking to your community is great, but creating dedicated spaces for server members to ask questions and give feedback directly will also make a huge difference.

Ensure that your community members know they can talk to you about things they feel could be improved about your server and its environment. Even make time for those early members who helped you make the community what it is today!

If you’re continuing to talk with your members, staying up to date with their needs, and keeping your community engaged, you’re doing it right. You’re well on your way to managing a healthy and successful server environment.

With thanks to joe for all their help in writing this article.