Types of Social Media Community Members

In our previous post, Manage Your Social Media Community, we discussed ways to manage your community and went over some of the key tasks to remember.

In this post, we talk about the various types of community members you will encounter in your network and how to manage each.

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Types of Community Members

Telligent,[1] a provider of services to online communities, categorizes community members into seven types. It’s as good a classification as we’ve seen, and we adapt it below, adding the commentary and the final two types, which are often left off such lists.

  • Influencer: A member who is connected to other well-connected users. Your community manager will want to quickly identify influencers and recruit them to help guide and stabilize the community.
  • Connector: A highly-connected member who converses with and is linked to many other users. Like the person who knows everyone in town, this type of community member can be extremely important to the growth and sustainability of the community. Your community manager should seek out and engage connectors.
  • Asker: A member who posts questions. This type of member can be annoying — like the 3-year-old who repeats, “But why?” after every answer. Or they can be stimulating, generating interesting interactions.
  • Answerer: A member who replies to questions. These members can range from the smug know-it-all to the truly helpful. If you have askers, you obviously need answerers, and optimally, they are civil.
  • Originator: A member who creates new content, also often called a Creator. This type of member contributes original posts, articles, links, videos or reviews. Obviously originators are important to the life of the community. The community manager will want to ensure originators have what they need to keep producing.
  • Commenter: A member who replies or links to content created by others. This type of member may rarely contribute any new content. They range from the obsessive who lets no post go uncommented to the judicious and respected critic who inspires further discussion.
  • Moderator: A member who moderates or curates content created by others. This role ranges from the gatekeeper who must approve all content to a host who sets the tone for the discussion with gentle reminders of appropriate behavior. The community manager can fill this role, but it’s better if a community member steps up.
  • Lurker: A member who very rarely contributes or even comments, but who finds satisfaction in following the discussion. The majority of any community’s members will be lurkers, and that’s OK. They find value in reading and experiencing the contributions of others. A community manager may be inclined to try to coax contributions out of lurkers, but it’s probably best to leave them alone other than checking in from time to time to assess their engagement with the community.
  • Troll: A disruptive member who either enjoys stirring the pot or who is actively hostile. Your community will have its trolls. The role of the community manager is to try to temper their effects. See the Dealing with Trolls post for more information.

Your community management plan should have policies and objectives for dealing with each type of com­munity member, especially potentially disruptive ones. Don’t just hope that the community will police itself — yes, that’s the goal. It just doesn’t happen without planning and support from your organizational leadership and your community manager.

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[1] Telligent, commits up to 24 paid hours per employee each year to charity: bit.ly/d9xvco bit.ly/cISEYh

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