Creative Commons License photo credit: Etsy Ketsy

Have you ever thought that, when you thank someone, you are building community? Well, you are.

Appreciation is one of the strongest ways that you can build community, online or off. Whether you are talking about customers, audience or registered members, retention – getting people to come back – is crucial to building community.

Why do people come back? One of the main reasons people come back is because they feel like their presence and their contributions are appreciated. People who feel unappreciated will be more likely to look to some other resource.

I once was a moderator on someone else’s community, long ago. I was one of the top posters, a senior member of the staff and an active moderator. In a year’s time, the administrator of that community said thank you maybe twice. That always stuck with me.

It’s actually not terribly hard to make people feel appreciated. Here are some simple things you can do:

  • Thank the people you talk with. When people contact you, offer feedback or you have some other sort of interaction with someone, thank them.
  • Ask for feedback from members when the feedback will help you to shape decisions or changes that you must make. When people offer feedback, always listen. Notice, I didn’t say do it. But, listen and consider it.
  • Thank people when you announce something or when you reach a milestone. Community based milestones offer a great opportunity to thank your community in general.
  • Random acts of appreciation. Did you notice a member who reached 1,000 posts? Start a thread congratulating them. Is it someone’s birthday? Recognize it. Did someone make a great post? Post in the thread telling them so. Have you noticed someone who has been making a lot of great contributions? Send them a private message out of the blue letting them know that you’ve noticed and that you appreciate what they are doing. I love doing that.

There are a number of things that build community, but to me, appreciation is one of the best.