Regular readers of this blog (if there are any) know that I harp on the importance of words. Language is a community manager’s most powerful tool. When misused, language can do enormous damage. With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of phrases that community managers might find helpful when communicating with members.
Recognition and acknowledgement are two key reasons people participate in online communities. When you publicly thank somebody for their contributions, you’re feeding both needs. Plus, as I’ve said before (see item 3 here), it’s simply the right thing to do.
2. “I’m sorry you’re having a problem”
Community managers hear a lot of complaints. You’ll want to act quickly to address those that are legitimate. But for all complaints, legitimate or not, acknowledge the issue and express empathy. People will generally understand if there’s a valid reason for whatever it is that’s bothering them. What they won’t understand is a lack of acknowledgment.
3. “Your input is appreciated”
Members of your community will come to you with ideas. Some will be great. Others, not so much. You don’t always need to agree with or act on ideas from members. But you must always read and acknowledge them.
4. “I took the liberty of moving your post”
Well run online communities have rules aimed at keeping the conversation organized. Participants are asked to post about certain topics in certain areas and such. New members often run afoul of these rules. Never scold people for this kind of thing. Instead, turn it into an opportunity to welcome the new member. Take what they posted and move it to the correct place. Then thank them for their contribution and, with a gentle reminder about the rules, let them know you’ve taken the liberty of moving their post.
5. “I can’t really add anything to what’s been said”
Every experienced community manager has run into a participant that latches on to some perceived misstep or slight and won’t let go. Each polite reply is met with demands for more information. Don’t play that game. When you feel this person’s questions have been sufficiently answered, tell them that you really can’t add anything to what’s been said. If they ask more questions, post the same reply. Eventually, they’ll move on.
Are there certain phrases you use when dealing with your community? Please share them in the comment section below.
Photo credit: Marc Wathieu
“From my perspective….” is a crucial one for me. We all have difference experiences and perspectives that color how we see something and making it clear that you are speaking for yourself rather than declaring something to be true helps encourage a discussion vs. an argument.
@Rachel That’s a good one, too.