What Makes a Great Community Manager? Part I
When I started my community management gig at 49Pixels a few months back, I realized that there is a lot about community management that I still need to learn.
In the past, I’ve often used LinkedIn and Quora to get advice and feedback from professionals in digital marketing and so I decided to post a question on both platforms to find out what key attributes and traits make up a great community manager.
I ended up receiving so much great feedback, I decided to create a 3 part post. This is part one of the post and it contains the advice that I received from several community managers around the world in response to my question.
Susanna Speier, Freelance Social Media Strategist & Community Manager. Washington, DC
Good community managers in my experience, are not just community managers. They’re hypenated hybrids from other fields. In my opinion, the best ones are also writers looking to push the outside edge of the envelope of what social media is capable of.
Eileen Foran, Community Program Manager at Autodesk. San Francisco, California
You need to “humanize” the product to the customers…be transparent. It’s okay to say you don’t know something or that an issue is known and being worked on. It may not make people happy to hear something they want isn’t available, but they will appreciate your candor and honesty, and if you build relationships well, your community will trust you to shepherd their requests, concerns, ideas, etc. to get them what they need. Also, you need to “humanize” the community to those within your organization who can make decisions. It is KEY to have good internal relationships so that you are welcomed rather than shunned when you escalate community concerns.
James Samuel, Online Community Manager at The Natural Step. New Zealand
Listening deeply to understand the needs of your community. Then responding to those needs and facilitating others to respond, so that the community becomes self-organising.
Allison Fasching, Sr. Manager Social Engagement at Sprint Nextel. Kansas City, Missouri
Listening to your customers, good, bad or otherwise is the best thing you can do, whether on the forums, the phone or in the store. Allow them to voice their concerns, address their issues and talk about their ideas. Then act on it! Do it for the right reasons, because it is the right thing to do, not just to make a buck.
Alice Fuller, Principle Consultant at Sheer Social. Los Angeles
Listening is key but also MODERATING. As a community manager there may be times when you will have to squash disputes if they get out of hand, remind community members of rules, and let your presence as moderator be known.
Camilla Koutsos, Community Manager at Sidhe Interactive. New Zealand
I think trust is vital. Never lie to your community. Deflect, yes, but don’t give a response that might be construed as dishonest in any way. Be consistent, and unbiased in your application of community policy. Allow the community to speak, but as mentioned, do moderate to ensure the users don’t whip themselves into a frenzy and get carried away. Respect your users, and never disparage even the most trollish community members. Never disparage competitors, though feel free to cite facts that compare you favourably against them. This all serves to build trust, which in turn strengthens ties of loyalty and respect.
Richard Millard, Community Manager at The Online Racing Association. United Kingdom
Being able to understand your product/brand from the consumers point of view and doing everything you can to make sure they are enjoying it.
Tia Fisher, Marketing and Communications Manager at eModeration in London also suggested that I check out Blaise Grimes-Viort‘s free coffee-table eBook 60 Insights from Experienced Community Managers. It contains a collection of insight and wisdom from some of the world’s top CMs.