A few months ago I was asked how it’s possible to stay relevant in large online groups.
My knee-jerk reaction was, “Do you need to be relevant?”
Then I thought some more about the question. Was it coming from a place of need? A need for friendship, or a need for community?
We all like to feel relevant. Whether it be in real life (IRL) or online (2D). As I thought about the question, I realized didn’t have an answer for this person.
They seemed to think my small presence in the big pond was relevant, but I wasn’t doing anything in particular. Then another person asked the same question.
There must be something to this. I need to answer.
But first I had to answer the hidden question: What is relevance anyway?
Relevance is connection. Connection to the question or issue at hand. Relevance is understanding the importance of the matter. In other words, being knowledgeable about the topic of discussion. In an online discussion, relevance is being able to communicate your knowledge within the discussion.
Here are some important points.
Ways to Remain Relevant
Seems simple, right? Not necessarily. How and when to interact with others in a group can be tricky if you don’t pay attention to what others in the community are doing. Sincere interaction and sincere posting is important. Ask questions and make statements relevant to the topic/reason the group exists.
- Be Selective
Don’t comment on every post. This also seems obvious to some people, but when you feel that Facebook fever, it can be tempting to comment on everything. The more selective I am with comments, I find I have better 2D conversations.
- Be Prudent
Be prudent with your advice. (Unless you’re writing a blog about offering advice!) Here’s a complex algorithm for when you’re stuck: Only offer advice when the person posting is actually asking for advice. Did I mention, opinions should be kept to yourself unless the poster is asking for your opinion?
Everyone likes kindness. Yes. Everyone. Rude comments can turn a thread nasty very quickly. You may certainly disagree with the original post, or with a comment posted by another group member, but your brash argument is not going to sway anyone to your view. But beware unintentional rudeness. You think you’re being funny, but remember the humor can quickly get lost in high-speed internet communication. Civil discourse seems to be a lost art in this age of social media, but it is possible to have a civil and beneficial discussion online. And when it happens, it is a beautiful thing.
Think BEFORE you post. This goes for all communication. In 2D and IRL. Don’t open your mouth without thinking through your comments, and don’t hit “enter” before reviewing your post or comment. Once you put it out there, you can’t take it back. Ever. And if you are at all hesitant, don’t post!
- Community Rules
Above all else, remember you are part of a community. Whether there are a couple dozen people in the community, or a couple thousand, you’re all there for a purpose. Try to stick to the main reason you joined the group.
- Newbies, Lurkers, and Cool Kids
Look for the new voices, and the shy posters. Encourage them. New member always like to feel welcome, especially in a well established community. Some of the new voices may be people who have always been lurking in the group, but finally feel comfortable enough to post and comment. And as far as the “cool kids” are concerned? There aren’t any. There isn’t a cool kids table. Don’t create one.
Is it important to be relevant? I’ll let you decide for yourself. But if you want to be an integral part of a large Facebook community, these steps will certainly help you.
Did I miss anything? Keep interacting, and have fun with your online friends!