In my previous life as an online community manager, something I thought was a really important role for me was communicating regularly and clearly with the members through announcements. A community leader needs a voice and the announcements can be the best tool to get that voice to the members.
Here are some of things I've considered over the years when creating an announcement:
- Assume the member is too busy to read your post- get their attention quickly. No "At XYZ, we care about your membership". People will tune out.
- Let them know if anything is required of them or why they should read the announcement right up front.
- No long paragraphs. Break ideas into chunks of 2-3 sentences.
- Cut the crap. Write what you want to say and cut the unnecessary bull.
- Don't be scared to use bold underline italics and font sizes. But- don't overdo it.
- A great way to add emphasis is using asterisks. I *love* asterisks.
- Be consistent with formatting, if you bold one title, make sure to bold them all if they serve the same purpose.
- Use a horizontal rule to separate sections
- Use links when you can. If you tell about something, try to link to it. I prefer to link directly to a specific page and not the homepage- though your Marketing dept. may not agree.
- Use email links and look for ways to autofill the subject line. If I want people to email about something specific, I code it so that the subject line is filled in with what they want. Like this: Click here if you think I'm a huge nerd
- Develop a consistent style or tone to your communication; address the members the same way, write in a consistent tone and format.
- Perhaps most importantly, be yourself. You want the members to trust you and they'll trust a real person before they'll trust a company.
I think announcements are absolutely essential in managing an online community- it's the management's primary resource for communicating with members as a group. If you can connect with them and build their trust through posting usable announcements, you'll have folks that are ready to help you accomplish your goals.