Social Etiquette: How to Keep Forum Posts Positive

Forums are a great feature for encouraging engagement and community involvement. Unlike public social networks, they offer residents a private channel for communication and collaboration. While this keeps angry posts contained, constant negativity hurts morale and engagement. This means your board needs to know how to keep the forum conversation constructive for the good of the community.

We asked a couple of our TownSq experts, Holly D. Lull, CMCA®, AMS®, and Lea Marcou, CMCA®, AMS®, PCAM®, to share advice on how to keep forum posts positive. Read on for their tips and tricks.

  1. Have a game plan.

In every forum, it’s key that board members establish a clear, written set of rules for users to reference. Even if the rules are as basic as prohibiting profanity or spam, guidelines create order and maintain a comfortable environment for all. Unfortunately, if users choose to neglect these rules, chaos can ensue, so being prepared is crucial.

“Everyone knows how things can spiral, so it’s important to have a set plan in case that ever happens. It’s better to be prepared to act and never need the plan, rather than to scramble after something happens.”
– Holly D. Lull, CMCA®, AMS®, Senior Manager / Technology Specialist

  1. Set a positive tone.

Even though forums are a great place for people to interact, comments can often be misinterpreted – their written form lacks the non-verbal communication that we rely on to impart our intended meaning. As a board member, if you consistently use a positive, optimistic tone, it’ll encourage others to do the same and help prevent misunderstandings.

“The tone and way that items are phrased can help keep your forum positive. Instead of telling someone what they can’t do, instruct them on how they can do things appropriately.”
– Holly D. Lull, CMCA®, AMS®, Senior Manager / Technology Specialist

  1. Guide the conversation.

Remember that even though you are a board member, you can contribute to the forum, too. Encourage participation by asking questions and sharing community updates. If homeowners just have an empty forum, they’ll start the conversation based on however they are feeling that day – which might include venting about their frustrations.

“I suggest you start forum conversations yourself, so you can frame questions in a positive light. Ask, ‘What suggestions do you have for improving our landscaping?’ instead of, ‘What are your landscaping concerns?’ You may even want to talk to a trusted neighbor in advance and ask them to be the first respondent so the responses can start off on a good note.”
Lea Marcou, CMCA®, AMS®, PCAM®, Community Association Manager / Customer Care Department Manager