Managing communities isn’t easy. In fact, it takes a lot of stamina, willpower, and determination – not to mention, dedication! – to ensure that everything is running like clockwork 24/7. For many of today’s community managers, especially those leading the communities of the world’s biggest brands, each day can be a new adventure filled with twists, turns, and unexpected surprises.
So we thought we’d reach out to some of our star community managers to get the inside scoop on what it takes to succeed in this fun, but ever-changing environment. Here’s what they had to say.
Love What You Do
It’s hard to manage a community without passion. You’ve got to “love your company, love your customers, and love your team,” says Jenn Chen ( @jchen ) , Community Manager at Intuit Demandforce, “These will be the people who can make or break your day.” Those words couldn’t be any truer. As a community manager, you’re the liaison between your brand and the customers who love, follow, and support that brand. You’re just as much an advocate for your brand as you are an advocate for your customers. In many ways, community managers are the most direct link between brands and customers, essentially acting as the “hub” for content and conversation that can build brand loyalty and earn trust. So it goes without saying you’ve got to approach what you do from a place of love and pride – anything less will show.
Don’t Lose Sight of the “Big Picture”
To be successful, you’ve really got to think big. Everything you do should ladder up to broader business goals. “Run it like you would run your own business,” advises Darren Choo ( @darren ), Social CRM Manager at StarHub. Although it’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day operations of managing your community – because, let’s face it, there’s never a dull moment – you need to constantly remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing in the first place. Your community doesn’t operate in a vacuum, neither should how you manage it. Every action matters. That’s why it’s important to ask yourself (again and again): How is my community making a positive impact on the business? Managing a community isn’t just about your daily tasks. It’s about leveraging the community to help your business achieve its goals. How your community impacts those goals may be big or small – in many ways, the impact you can make is entirely up to you – but, either way, the work you do should never be seen or done in a vacuum. By aligning your your actions to broader business goals and proving the success associated with helping to achieve those goals, you will not only be more effective (and empowered) in what you do, but also, and more importantly, it will give you a solid foundation to grow your program over time.
Get Everyone On Board
Many people with an organization, especially the senior most stakeholders, are still unclear as to how a community can be core to business success. “Make sure you can measure your efforts to prove you’re constantly adding value,” says Stephen Fell ( @Fellsteruk ), Senior Online and Engagement Manager at TalkTalk. Investing in building a community, creating content that engages the community, and activating that community to serve as an extension of your brand’s customer support services is still not exactly a no-brainer for many companies. In fact, as a community manager, you constantly have to build a solid business case and rally your stakeholders around the benefits that a strong (and growing) community can bring to the business as a whole. You need the support of the people around you – from product to marketing to legal to engineering – to succeed. So be sure to take time to get everyone on the same page. It will definitely pay off in the long run.
Listen, Respond, Engage
Being a community manager takes a lot of love, but it also requires an unyielding sense of authenticity. Communities are sensitive to anything short of being 100% genuine. “Make it personal,” advises Wendy Schippers ( @Wendy_S ), Community Manager at Hewlett Packard, “Get to know your members…and be the glue that ties them together.” Your role is to create a dialogue with your customers, not simply push out content and information to them. You’ve got to tune in to what they’re saying, respond to their thoughts and concerns with empathy, and speak to them as though they are your peers and colleagues. Timothy Hanslow ( @Tim_h ), Social Care Manager at Vodafone Australia reiterates that you’ve got to “be humble, always.” There’s no place for ego in community management. Your role is to support your community every step of the way.
Stay Ahead of the Curve
As technology evolves, your community must evolve, too. “Stay on top of the latest platforms, features, industry trends, and best practices,” advises Claudius Henrichs ( @Claudius ) , Community Manager at Skype. “You need to constantly improve your community so that it does not ever fall behind.” It’s important to keep an ear turned towards what’s happening in the world around you. Technology is changing at a frenetic pace these days. It’s your responsibility to seize, embrace, and take advantage of every opportunity to make your community better. In doing so, you’ll keep the experience fresh for your customers, help them stay engaged, and position your brand as a perennial trend-setter.