top of page
  • Writer's pictureNicole Papaioannou Lugara

It's a Mod World: Moderating Online Communities for Maximum Engagement

Let's talk about the unsung heroes of online learning communities: moderators. These people keep the community engaged, free of chaos, and interacting with purpose. They support a positive user experience and deep learning.

In practice, this may look like all or some of the following:

  • scheduling content

  • boosting content shared by community members

  • highlighting the great things group members are doing

  • monitoring conversations to ensure guidelines are being followed

  • responding to questions from the group about how the group works

  • connecting group members based on common interests/needs

  • planning and hosting events

  • analyzing the group to determine "hot topics" for which resources need to be curated or developed

But more often, in corporate L&D, it looks like:

  • setting up the basic community space

  • posting a question one a week in a discussion board

  • policing the group

And then we say "learning communities don't work at work."

They do. You just haven't put the right people to work or a good strategy in place (the latter is another post for another day).

What It Takes to Moderate for Maximum Engagement

The truth is, for all the activities a moderator may do, as listed at the beginning of this post, there are just two core criteria to being an excellent moderator:

  • demonstrating caring

  • practicing influence

That's it.

Sure, project management and tech savviness are nice to have, but at the end of the day, a community thrives when people feel like people care, and that starts with the moderator(s).

If community members think the moderator (and by extension the owner of the community / organization) doesn't care, they won't care, and you'll see the ill effects.

And if the people in the community don't care about the moderator-- this is where influence comes in-- they may be dismissive, unruly, or unmotivated.

Demonstrating Caring

How do people typically assess caring? They look for effort, as well as evidence of active listening and understanding.

Here are some ways moderators can show they care:

  • Act as a role model: Lead by example, demonstrating kindness, empathy, and respect in all interactions with community members.

  • Active engagement: Regularly participate in discussions, ask and answer questions, and share valuable resources to foster a sense of community and belonging among members. Do balance that with sitting back and letting community members connect with each other, though.

  • Be enthusiastic: Don't just show up. Be present. Be excited to participate. Show you're invested in the success of the people in the community.

  • Get to know your members as people: Learn what motivates, interests, and inspires the people in your community. Get to know what goals they've set for themselves and what they're hoping to accomplish. Identify what has attracted them to the community and what keeps them showing up. Then, use that information to cultivate a great experience.

  • Promote inclusivity: Encourage diversity in thoughts, opinions, and backgrounds by welcoming new members and fostering an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their perspectives.

  • Recognize achievements: Acknowledge the contributions and accomplishments of community members, whether it's through shout-outs, awards, or special recognitions.

  • Provide relevant resources: Share helpful information and resources that cater to the interests and needs of the community, such as tutorials, articles, or tools.

  • Solicit feedback: Regularly ask for feedback from members and be open to suggestions for improving the community's overall experience. Respond to feedback, too. Don't just collect it.

  • Foster collaboration: Encourage members to work together on projects, share ideas, and support each other's goals.

  • Stay up-to-date: Keep informed about relevant news, trends, and tools in your community's niche, and share this information with members to foster a sense of ongoing learning and growth.

  • Provide support: Offer assistance and guidance to members in need, whether it's related to using the platform, addressing technical issues, or navigating challenging situations within the community. Respond to conflicts, disputes, or reports of inappropriate behavior quickly and professionally, taking appropriate actions to resolve them.

Practicing Influence

There are two options here:

  1. the moderator can be/become the influential person

  2. they can pull in a network of influential people who can give them "street cred" or influence by association.

Ultimately, the goal is that people want to share a space with the moderator. In fact, the presence of the moderator should become incentive for people to participate.

Moderators can build influence by:

  • Demonstrating expertise: Demonstrate expertise in the field and stay up-to-date with the latest developments and trends. People go to people who have expertise for their opinions.

  • Sharing knowledge: Share knowledge and expertise with colleagues and team members. Offer to help or provide advice and guidance when needed. Again, it's about becoming the go-to resource for others.

  • Building relationships: Build relationships with colleagues and stakeholders in the organization. Attend events, network, and find common ground with others. This will help you build a network of support and influence.

  • Being proactive: Take initiative and be proactive in identifying problems and offering solutions. Look for opportunities to improve processes or projects, and present your ideas in a clear and concise manner.

  • Communicating effectively: Communicate effectively. Be clear and concise in messages, listen actively, and provide feedback and support.

  • Demonstrating results: Demonstrate results and deliver quality work. Set goals, track your progress, and share successes.

The Big Picture

All those little tips may feel a bit overwhelming, but remember, it all comes down to just two things:

  • care about people

  • lead people

If you care about people and want them to do well and if you can keep the community centered around it's purpose, you're making big strides in the right direction. And if you do these things with consistency, the rest will often fall into place.

Don't make let your community become an after-thought. It's a high-value space.



bottom of page