Community management is not a new concept by any means – it’s a function that essentially began in the “old days” of online communication, when people connected primarily through forums and chat rooms. But the rise of social business has given life to the role in a whole new way. What used to be looked at as a role primarily for moderation of niche community forums, is now seen as a necessary function within any company that cares about evolving their business to meet the needs of the social customer.
Determining whether your brand needs a community manager comes down to efficiencies, trust and skill. One of the biggest reasons companies need a manager is that they are looking to humanize their brand and create a closer connection to consumers. Community managers provide an excellent way to not only monitor online communities, but to also support and engage in new conversations around the brand. As a human voice of the company, community managers are critical in establishing a level of trust with consumers that keeps them coming back.
Effective community managers are not only experts of the company or product they represent, but also are passionate about it. Chrysanthe Tenentes, Head of Community at Foursquare, said good community managers are ones that are genuine advocates and evangelists for their products and their users.
“The best community managers are superusers of their products and can understand the passion of the user base, whether someone is complaining or offering feedback,” Tenentes said.
In many ways, if a Community Manager is doing all of the tasks we associate with the job then they truly are the unsung heros of our organization. Some of the expected tasks most Community Managers take on are: promoting and advertising of the community, provide input on the strategy, host, engage with community members, develop and post content, brand management, crisis communications, provide analysis on analytics, and generate reports. Depending on how big your community is and how many platforms you cover any one of these tasks could be someone’s full time job. In fact, most organizations I’ve seen have a team of at least two to three people helping their organization manage their online communities.
Want a foolproof community building strategy?
Step 1: Pick up your phone, and call a user/customer. Ask them about themselves. Ask them about their experience with your company. Make a personal connection.
Step 2: Invite them to a private facebook group for your customers.
Step 3: Introduce them to the group and help them get involved in the discussions.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Forget all of your plans for an “ambassador program” with rewards, exclusive swag, badges, moderators, big events, etc etc. Start simple and focused. When it’s time to build more structure into your community program, you’ll know. Your community will tell you.
7 Tips I Picked Up In the First Few Weeks
Read as many blogs about social media (tactics, changes, case studies) as you can find. A few quick starting points would be this site, as well as Mashable, TechCrunch and All Twitter and InsideFacebook.
2. Be patient
Based on my limited experience, you are not going to be put in charge of any community in one day. It will take time. You have to learn the voice, the tone, the purpose and best practices before you will be given the reigns.
Watch the conversations on some of the most popular pages of mid-level and small brands. Those conversations show true passion. Study what types of questions drive the most votes. You can learn from what their fans (and trolls) are saying.
4. Community is everywhere
Just because someone hired you to be a community manager does not mean that is limited to just commenting on Facebook posts or coming up with witty Twitter updates. Community lives in public relations, marketing, reputation management and customer service. Everything matters.
5. Plan for a marathon
One of our co-founders, Gary Vaynerchuk, always says that it is a marathon, not a sprint. The problem with many businesses today is they they’ll trade nearly anything for a penny uptick in stock price. Community does not work like that. It takes times to build.
6. Your education only goes so far
Trust me on this one. Maybe colleges are catching up but most colleges are still learning old-school “push” tactics. Don’t get me wrong, so long as there is television, radio, newspapers and magazines, “push” will work. But so does “pull” and that is where we’re at right now.
I consider myself a writer, but I am not what you would call a “perfect on the first draft kind of writer.” I’m more of a write, let it sit and come back and hopefully fix it type of writer. In community management that amount of time and reflection does not exist. It is immediate and you have to become the best proofreader and copy-editor on the planet.
7. Ask questions
This is true for any job, but especially important for a position few understand and one that evolves every day. If you are the only community manager in your company, then reach out to others online and in real life who are in the same environment. You need to talk over ideas and tactics. If you work with a team of community managers like I do, try to have some kind of a creative meeting every week to bounce ideas off each other and find out what is going on in the social space.
As a part of the Community Team, your responsibilities will include moderating and responding to customer support requests and communicating the community’s feedback to the rest of the team. We're seeking an enthusiastic, smart, self-motivated, efficient, hard-working intern who genuinely enjoys helping others. You should be an avid user of location-based technologies, an excellent written communicator, and a natural problem solver, as your key responsibilities include:
Help maintain our social media accounts such as Twitter, Flickr, and Disqus
Providing friendly, timely responses to a high volume of support requests and prioritize the most urgent requests
Working with Community Manager and Community Support Coordinators to identify and address common questions, feedback, and concerns from users
During a typical day, Community Specialists:
Provide email and phone support to over 10 million Members and Organizers who are changing the world, one Meetup at a time.
Help new Meetups get off the ground by providing advice, support and best practices.
Enforce Meetup’s Terms of Service to maintain the best community possible.
Serve as advocates for the Meetup Community.
You love HowAboutWe – our brand, our product, and what we’re trying to achieve. Going online to get offline is what you’re all about.
You are deeply enthusiastic about being the primary human connection between our users and our product and marketing teams. You want to support our community to have amazing experiences using our products. You want to represent our users’ needs and ideas – advocating for product improvements that will enhance their experience of HowAboutWe.
You are a clear thinker. You are meticulous. You are a terrific writer and communicator. You are empathic. You are self-motivated. You are a skillful collaborator. You love the internet and what it can give us.
Ideally, you would have experience as a community manager of a large consumer facing web application. But more importantly, you have an intense desire to be constantly learning and contributing. You have a burning excitement about creating web products that people simply love.
And of course, it’d be cool if you were a HowAboutWe user.
Community Ambassador Program
Calling all go-getters, connectors, and world changers! Become a Skillshare Community Ambassador and:
Get involved with a company that is transforming education
Connect with a private network of other ambassadors and staff
Earn ambassador-only badges, privileges, and rewards
Receive advanced notice of new Skillshare product features and company updates
Each day at Svpply, hundreds of great new products, members and stores join our community. We need a Community Manager to help us treat them all with with the respect and love they deserve. This position will be focused on scouring Svpply for great new content, handling customer support queries, communicating new feature releases to the community, and developing relationships with our members.
- You should have great taste.
- You should have experience writing for and maintaining a great blog.
- You should have experience building and maintaining a community.
- You should live in NYC or be willing to relocate here.
“Identify leaders within your community and support these people as much as possible. They are some of your most valuable assets. Reach out to them, chat on the phone, buy them coffee, take a walk together. Use these opportunities to listen to how they feel about your brand/business and find out what resources you could provide.”
– Morgan Evans, community strategist at Etsy
The biggest challenge, she says, is that “for every feature that a user wants your product to do, there’s the equal and opposite user that wants the exact opposite. The biggest challenge is balancing that and communicating that to our product team and engineers, helping figure out what’s the best decision, and communicating that back to our users.”
Patrick O’Keefe is the founder of the iFroggy Network, a publisher of websites. He has been managing online communities since 2000 and is the author of “Managing Online Forums,” a practical guide to managing online social spaces.
He has been responsible for the cultivation of communities like KarateForums.com, phpBBHacks.com and PhotoshopForums.com. He blogs about online community at ManagingCommunities.com, his favorite record label at BadBoyBlog.com and more at patrickokeefe.com. On Twitter, he’s @iFroggy.