Matching The Tone of Members

I worked with a community of practice recently which was having trouble reaching a critical mass of activity.

Reading posts and email templates, there was a clear difference between the tone members used when engaging with one another and the tone the community manager used.

The community manager was bright, bubbly, used lots of exclamation points, sent everyone best wishes for holidays and weekends.

Community members were direct, generally serious, and rarely bothered to inquire into each other’s weekends or wish others well for the holidays.

On paper, the community manager was absolutely the kind of person you want to get a community started. But members I interviewed frequently mentioned finding the community manager offputting. One mentioned (“she stuck out like a sore thumb”).

Finding the right person for a community isn’t just about their experience and attributes, but also about their tone. A community manager who is great for one community can be a poor fit for another.

If you can’t match the tone of members, they won’t consider you as one of them. For sure, be positive and optimistic, but somewhere in the continuum, there’s a line that’s acceptable for your members. You need to figure out where that line is pretty quickly.

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