Keeping it positive
For influencers and content creators, the key to success is their community. Managing a productive and healthy community is as important as the content itself, and creating a positive space for everyone from casual followers to committed superfans is essential to ongoing success.
But when it goes wrong, it really goes wrong. The freedoms of the internet that have created space for influencers to create a business out of their content can quickly turn a community sour. According to Pew Research, 4 in 10 people have faced online harassment, and a report by HubSpot found nearly half of all social media users report seeing more spam on their feeds.
A toxic community can be a problem for influencers on a personal level. A study by researchers at Bournemouth University found the relationship between influencers and their fans, when it turns sour, can lead to “anxiety, social media fear and insecurity”.
There’s a commercial dimension, too. Influencers are brands, and a toxic community can lead to brand damage. An influencer is often not only known for the content they create, but also the community they have developed around their content. When that community is known for being supportive, productive and welcoming, it is appealing for newcomers. But when that community is known for being abusive, scammy or unfriendly, it has the opposite effect.
A toxic or overly negative community can make it more challenging to establish brand partnerships with major companies. Brands are wary about working with influencers who may cause damage to their reputation, confuse their position or cause them to lose authenticity — and your community will be the first thing they see.
So what can be done to help keep your influencer community free of toxicity? Here are a few ideas.
Think about what a community is. It isn’t just a group of people who you blast content at. That’s an audience. A community should be reciprocal — encouraging not only two-way, open communication between creators and fans, but also collaboration between fans too.
To facilitate a healthy community, you should think about ways to have your audience collaborating and talking to one another in a positive way. This could mean creating content that involves your community in some way, or giving fans the opportunity to contribute to your channels as a collective.
By helping corral your audience towards productive, collaborative engagement with both your content and one another, you can help foster a community free of toxicity.