To sign up for our daily email newsletter, CLICK HERE
Nowadays when you join any online community, the first thing that’s usually recommended is to read the community guidelines for conduct and behaviour. They’re often placed prominently on the brand’s platform, and can be easily accessed and referred to by a community’s audience at any time.
And for good reason, since community guidelines serve an important function in dictating how your web users and visitors should be behaving while they engage with your brand. They set the norm for interactions between your community members, and build the framework for enforcing favourable behaviour and interactions that lead to improved brand awareness.
Still, it’s unlikely that most digital media brand users will take the time to fully read community guidelines, despite their importance. Despite their clear presentation and ready availability, communities will still need to enforce these guidelines through representatives and moderation teams.
If you want to know how to create guidelines for your platform, consider visiting this site for some more information.
1. To establish the tone of your community
Different communities will have individual goals and purposes for their inception. As a digital media brand, your goal may be as simple as getting more traffic to your platform, or as complex as a long-term campaign to raise brand awareness and encourage your community to display increased brand loyalty.
Providing community guidelines provides a clear reference for your new audience that conveys how your platform is intended to be used. They’re meant to convey your brand’s core values and beliefs, which allows your audience to understand your vision for the community. Your audience is likely to respond according to your intentions, and get a clear idea of whether or not the space you’ve created is a good fit for them.
2. Provides rules that take a stand against toxicity
Not all new visitors are going to be pleasant or create a positive experience for your audience members. Some will promote unpopular or negative takes, or might spread toxicity and incite flaming amongst their community members through trolling.
While it’s impossible to completely block out these kinds of individuals, your community guidelines can make it clear that this kind of behaviour doesn’t fly on your platform. It’s easy to establish that comments or conversations involving racism, discrimination, and hate speech are prohibited, and offenders can expect punitive action as a consequence.
Would-be trolls and toxic members aren’t the only ones affected by this approach – your moderation team can take prompt action against offending members on your platform in accordance with the guidelines, and your well-behaved audience members will appreciate having policies that keep the community space safe from negativity.
3. They reflect changes or new developments in your brand values
Your brand should be unique and stand out from competitors where your audience can get similar products or services. Take the chance to incorporate tenets of your brand identity and values into your community guidelines as well. For many individuals, these tend to be their first experience (at least on paper) with your brand and the values it upholds.
But your guidelines aren’t likely to remain static – they will likely need to be updated to keep up with the changing goals and values of your brand. Whether you’re reinforcing core values such as promoting inclusivity and supporting open and honest news coverage, or have started delivering into donations and charity work, your guidelines can be adjusted and tweaked to support these aspects of your brand.
Helpful tips to support your first attempts at creating community guidelines
If your brand is starting to find some initial successes, you might still be in the process of fine tuning the subtler aspects of your community guidelines. We’ve provided some solid reasons for why you should consider creating them in the first place. But here are some key tips that can help you generate guidelines that aren’t just functional, but effective in drawing in your audience and making it more likely that they’ll follow them.
- Don’t restrict yourself to formal diction
While your guidelines are a set of rules for everyone using your platform, you don’t have to restrict yourself to formal or stiff language. You can adjust your guidelines to be more casual or even humorous if it fits your brand and identity. For example, a platform covering the latest breaking news may be more serious and direct about its goals and mission, while a sports-related group may stick to short, effective sentences that clearly convey your love for the action.
- Update Your Guidelines Regularly
As your platform’s online community grows, you might encounter unexpected new challenges or factors that need to be accounted for within your community. To ensure you can address new developments at the earliest opportunity, your community guidelines will need to be updated in line with them to stay relevant.
Note that these don’t refer to internal changes brought about by a shift in your brand’s identity. Instead, we’re referring to factors outside of your control that have an impact on your community space. It’s important to acknowledge them and discuss your reasons for implementing new guidelines or modifying the older ones as well – keep your audience in the loop using your communication channels for when guidelines get updated.
- Tailor Your Guidelines towards Your Content
How your guidelines are shaped will inevitably vary between platform and platform. What works well for international news coverage may not necessarily apply to a brand designed around providing sports coverage or lifestyle content. Think carefully about the nuances behind your content and what might require special consideration.
As a direct example, consider that while it might not be applicable to an article on politics, you might decide to prohibit users from using your comments section to make bets on the outcome of a game.
Online communities all over the Internet rely on them to prevent toxic behaviour and offending content from influencing their platforms. The guidelines help protect both the community and your own organisation, creating a space for users to engage with your brand and promote overall awareness.