Congrats, how fun, you've decided to join a new online group! You have similar interests, you're networking, you're learning new things- the internet is amazing and full of new friends. Maybe the last group didn't work out so well or you've never joined a group before. Here are some tips for being a polite and considerate group member while you're jumping in.
1. Look before you speak. Scroll through the threads, see what topics have already been covered. If it's on Facebook, look at the Files tab. A lot of groups will have their page policies posted in there. It's good to know up front what the expectations of group members are. It's not a good first impression to start with a post that's not allowed in the group.
2. Notice the tone of the board. Is it playful? Is it strictly business? Take that into account when you start posting. Often posts that are not in step with the rest of the page get ignored. No matter what the tone, when you are new, you must be careful not to come on too strong. A first impression is hard to break, especially online. I'm not saying don't be yourself, just be your best self. In time, when you've made connections and aren't just a random poster, you'll know what's appropriate and how accepting the group will be of your inner freak. Give it a little time though!
3. Introduce yourself! We all lurk a bit, but don't go too long without introducing yourself. When you comment, people want to know who you are and if you know what you are talking about. A nice introduction will help with that. You want to include the name you like to go by and what has brought you to the group. People will not read more than 4-5 sentences, so keep it short. No one cares about your life story... yet. Here's an example:
Hey all, newbie here! My name is Julia and I'm really excited to be part of this group. I have an Etsy shop that I sell vintage in. I've been dealing in antiques for almost a decade so I hope I can help others who have questions and also learn more about selling on Etsy.
Friendly, informative, readable- that's all you need.
4. Don't drop and run. I'm in a handful of Facebook groups and a moderator for two. It's really annoying when people only post when they want or need something. If you want the group to help you, you have to be around and an active part of the group. Even if you have nothing to say, you can like posts and comments.
5. Look before you plan. So you've got a great idea- a project or an event. Look around, look at the event tab, and then ask if something's being, or been, done. It really steps on people's toes if they've been working on something and a newbie comes in and tries to take over or get people to jump to their idea instead. Most group leaders are thrilled when people take the initiative to plan things, but just check to see if it's not already being done.
6. Be nice and be positive. In my favorite group, we vent. It's sales and that can be frustrating. Our closed group is a supportive place to vent. However, if it was all venting, the negativity would be overwhelming, so we also use a lot of humor and encouragement as well as useful tools. It works. When you are new to a group, don't post only negative posts and definitely don't make antagonistic comments on other people's posts. You don't have to be Suzy Sunshine if you are naturally more of a Debbie Downer, just think before you post and try to imagine how it will come across to other group members. It's a great practice in diplomacy and self control. Later, once you've proven you are not a whack job, you'll be able to make more off the cuff comments, but in general, the internet would be a better place if we all used a little more tact anyway.
So what are some other helpful tips you'd give a group newbie? Made any rookie errors that are funny or that we can learn from?