An online community is a space where an organization enables its customers or employees to express their feelings, ideas, and thoughts.
But gaining their trust and motivating them to participate in your community can be challenging. Especially if the community platform you are using is vulnerable to security threats or compromises on members’ personal information, it can hamper community engagement. For a community to be successful, all what its members ask for is a safe space to interact, express, learn, and network.
What are Safe Spaces?
A digital safe space enables people to connect and share ideas without having safety concerns like data breaches. Communities collect a lot of data in terms of personal user information and user-generated content. Therefore, it becomes essential to make your community a safe space. So, it should be equipped with robust security features and should comply with data protection regulations like CCPA and GDPR. Also, a community is considered a safe space when community managers ensure that all activities taking place within it, conform to the community guidelines.
So what should you do to instill safety within your community and assure members are having a positive and worthwhile experience? Let’s find out!
5 Ways to Foster a Safer Culture Within Your Online Community
An online community can have various goals such as gaining more members, boosting customer retention, encouraging innovation, etc. Regardless of the goal of the community, one thing is consistent in every community – ensuring safety.
Here are 5 ways to build and cultivate a safer culture within your online community –
1. Choose a Community Platform that Offers Robust Safety Features
Setting up a community is a tricky trade and technology plays a key role in making your community safe. Before building a community, you need to do some groundwork to pick a secure platform. With many community solutions built on the SaaS model, it is critical to understand the security measures. Therefore, get written SLAs (service-level agreements) to understand the vendor’s efforts to prevent data breaches or downtime. A secure platform will offer –
- Security certificate
- HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) connection
- Easy to navigate design
- Efficient security measures like firewalls and proxy servers
- Secure login process (two-factor authentication)
Also, ensure that you understand how you can restrict access and protect information on the platform.
2. Be Precise About How You’ll Utilize Member Content
Being transparent about why you have created a community and how it is going to benefit your organization will build trust. Brands that hide their intent behind running a community will struggle at gaining trust. In contrast, a community that runs through transparency will always appear more credible and trustworthy. Therefore, place a disclosure ideally at the sign-up page. Make sure it is clearly written and accessible to customers.
3. Write Community Guidelines and Moderate Community Engagement
Establishing community guidelines is absolutely essential for maintaining decorum in your community. These guidelines are a set of rules that your members agree to before joining your community. Clearly stated guidelines will cover –
- Expected user behaviors
- Penalties associated with certain violations
- Limited access to certain community spaces (groups, threads, etc.)
- Account suspension or termination conditions
- Strict actions against trolling, bullying, spamming, and similar behaviors(two-factor authentication)
Ensure that the guidelines are clearly understood and accessible to your members. You can email these guidelines upon joining or place them on a dedicated tab of your community to make them accessible. Once you have guidelines in place, it becomes significantly easier to moderate the community. Depending upon the level of non-adherence by members, you can let them go off with a warning or suspend their account.
4. Chalk Out a Restriction Plan
It is essential to have crucial limitations in place to safeguard member information. Having even some minor restrictions in place can prevent hacking and breaching attempts. Some essential restrictions you need to establish in your online community are –
- Limited login attempts
- Restricted link exchanges to prevent spamming
- Limited lifetime of inactive accounts
- Restricted access on public connections like libraries or cafes
Security issues can go unnoticed for long. Therefore, you need to be proactive when it comes to reviewing the platform against security issues, even if there are no complaints. This way you can keep the tab on how vulnerable your community is and what preventive measures you have on the cards.
5. Be Flexible and Inclusive
You need to be open to suggestions and be able to respond promptly. Actively listen to your members and assess if they can truly be themselves in your community. The more open and inclusive environment you offer, the better innovation and feedback you can expect. Therefore, run surveys and polls to evaluate their experience and what changes they would like to see in the community. This way you will offer them a sense of belongingness in your community.
When building an online community, ensure that the platform you choose offers comprehensive safety features. Next, be clear about the goals that you wish to achieve through your community and offer prompt responses to safety violations to make the community members feel safe. Enabling new and existing members to feel safe takes more than one approach. Utilize the above-mentioned approaches to make your community a safer space for your members.
Wish to explore more about building vibrant and dynamic online communities? Talk to us!
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