Community Management 101
Last month, I created a discussion thread on Quora and LinkedIn and asked community managers from around the world to identify the key attributes that makes a great community manager. I received an overwhelming amount of feedback and advice which I decided to share as a 3 part post. The responses and feedback kept coming in however and so I decided to create another post with insights from Deborah Ng, Jennifer Puckett, Aaron Kopf and Christopher Kaufman. You can also read all the previous comments here. Enjoy!
Deborah Ng, Author: Online Community Management for Dummies, New York City.
Having a positive place for community to interact is essential. Understanding why people are a part of your community and finding the programs and campaigns to keep them coming back for more is also key.
Jennifer Puckett. Production Manager, USA at eModeration Limited, Los Angeles.
I believe one needs to respect the community members – all of them. Including the good, bad and lurkers. And a healthy dose of decent communication skills helps tremendously. And by that I mean not only being able to state the company’s beliefs in a clear state, but also to interpret your community’s needs and comments. It’s a circle, and not always a clear one.
- Be yourself. This is key. People will respect any moderator of any open forum if you are yourself. People want to connect with an individual and they want to be able to trust that person. If you are saying or doing things that go against being genuine, you’ll quickly lose people on the community or they will stop listening to you. This defeats the whole purpose of having a forum for communication.
- Every opinion is valid. Now this doesn’t mean people can say whatever they want but it means a negative opinion of your product/service is just as useful (if not more so) as positive ones. This does mean you need a set of guidelines for what is acceptable for posting. In fact, I think it’s important to encourage those that have a negative view of your organization to participate in the conversation.
- Listen, listen, listen. Listening is far more important than providing content. When you listen to those engaged on your networks, you’ll better know who they are and what they are looking for from your organization. I have found by listening, I know more about the customer than I do by looking at the data you collect.
- Start conversations. People want to know what they should be talking about or what they can/cannot say on your social networks. By providing conversation starters, you can facilitate what people are talking about and find out what you need to know to bring back to the table to improve on what you already have going for you and the business.
- Give them what they want. One of the worst things you can do managing any community is try to push an agenda. Your followers are the people you should be asking to find out what kind of content they would like to see. If you try to push something on them that they don’t want you, won’t have a conversation going, you’ll have your people confused and maybe even alienate them. So, ask them what they want and what their expectations are from the forum.
Christopher Kaufman, Manager of Social Media & Community at Nero AG, Los Angeles.
While I agree that you need to listen, build trust, and like people, I also believe that you need to think more about the enterprise. The balancing act is to have the enterprise’s targets insight while providing value to the community. There is a delicate dance of reciprocity that occurs that this is too small a space to get into. A nice simple intro is in Susan Weinschenk’s Neuro Web Design. Though it’s more cognitive than neuro. Suffice to say, you need to deliver results without alienating the community.