When called upon to explain what it takes to be a good community manager, I often feel like I’m writing a children’s book on how to be a good friend. Truly, good community management is not difficult to figure out, but many people are intimidated by the new avenues of communication in social media and lose sight of how easy it can be to establish a connection with a group of people. If you follow these six simple rules of friendship, you’re well on your way to being a stellar community manager with a highly engaged audience.
1. Be real
The premise is simple: don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. A community manager should be selected because they’re a good fit for the community. Don’t select a community manager simply because they have community management or social media experience; make sure they also have a background that is relevant to the community or your brand. The community can tell if you’re insincere or clueless, and you run the threat of losing their trust.
Additionally, give your personality a chance to shine through. Community managers who are overly dry or technical might as well be robots. Community members appreciate the presence of a genuine personality with whom they feel a connection.
A good community manager makes time to check in on the community at least once a day. Depending upon the amount of activity on each community hub, you may want to check in three to five times a day. Reply to any questions people have asked, and let them know that you’re there for them.
Genuine interaction is a must. Take time to really read and understand what your community members need. Don’t try to make their questions fit into a formulaic category that can easily be answered with a stock response. This will frustrate them and make you lose credibility.
When checking in, a community manager should post interesting material and encourage conversation in the community. Don’t feel like your posts have to strictly adhere to the theme of your community; feel free to post a funny video or cute picture when you see fit.
Encourage your community to share, too. When you post, always include a call to action to encourage responses. If you post a video of a puppy stuck on its back, ask your community members to share their favorite puppy videos in the comments. This creates a dynamic of mutual respect and open sharing, and keeps your community members interested.
4. Watch out for your friends
Every good community manager wears the hat of a moderator at some point in time. When a community member comes to you with an issue, do your best to respond and resolve it within one day. If a flame war erupts within your community, step in and take the necessary steps to restore peace. Moderation is an important part of community management, and your community will thank you for the support.
5. Pitch in during times of crisis
When there is unplanned downtime or unexpected technical difficulties, a community manager should do all they can to guide the community through the rough patch. It’s always a good idea to have a crisis response plan in place before it is needed so you can promptly escalate the issue up the proper chain of command and provide a swift resolution.
Radio silence from a community manager during times of uncertainty can lead to panic and frustration from community members. If possible, contact your community members via alternate methods such as email or other unaffected social outlets. If there is planned downtime on the horizon, make sure your community is aware of it at least two weeks in advance.
6. Give your friends space
There’s such a thing as oversharing in a community. Good community managers make sure to avoid posting too often or dominating conversations. Doing so will lead your community members to ignore you or even leave the community.
A good rule of thumb is to not post more than three times a day. Additionally, allow your community members to interact with one another and create organic conversations around a central topic. Quite often, community members’ questions are answered by other members before you get a chance to respond. This builds a strong community based on mutual respect, and makes the community manager’s job a lot more pleasant.