One year ago, I didn’t even know what a community manager was. Today, I’m in charge of social media strategy, content management and user engagement for myFootPath. I’ve taken on a job I didn’t even know existed just a short

One year ago, I didn’t even know what a community manager was. Today, I’m in charge of social media strategy, content management and user engagement for myFootPath. I’ve taken on a job I didn’t even know existed just a short time ago! I’m also not the only one in this interesting situation.

The growth of social media platforms has left many companies scrambling for qualified professionals to manage content and maintain active accounts. Though it has become an essential role, many are still left scratching their heads when it comes to the specific duties a community manager must perform.

To get a better understanding of this new and evolving job, I reached out to four community managers who have taught me a lot. I posed two questions:

1) What is the most important part of the community manager’s job, and
2) What strategies do you use to achieve this?

Here’s what they said:

Jen Capenito, community manager, Pongo Resume

The most important part is listening and then responding in an authentic, meaningful way. The people who are talking about your brand/company should know they are talking to a real person and walk away with the feeling that you care about what they have to say, whether it’s a thank you, a conversation, resolving a problem, etc.

I use tools like Hootsuite to monitor brand mentions on a daily basis. I also try to stick to the basics like sending a personalized message to each and every person who follows us across our networks. It’s easy to get away from doing the simple things once you get more involved, but it’s the little things that count and people remember.

Becky Benishek, community manager, Crisis Prevention Institute

Be authentic and transparent. Whether you’re in a forum on the corporate website or posting on your company’s Facebook Page, make it clear who you are and what your job is. This can be very simple: If you’re the admin on the Facebook Page, sign your name to posts to show that there’s a real person behind the logo. If you’re moderating a forum, make sure your own profile is filled out.

Pay attention. Automated tools make it easy to “set it and forget it,” but you still have to be there to respond to questions, concerns, and kudos. If someone’s expressing their love for your brand/company, thank them! If someone has a complaint, help them out. Letting issues and complaints linger is like a black hole in your brand: Unsolved problems and negativity get bigger and bigger until you lose all credibility (collapse!).

Use your own tone versus corporate-speak. Whether you’re on the company site, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc., communities are not the place to spout marketing copy line by line. Be respectful and be aware of the company brand at all times, but also be yourself. Each social media platform has its own style and its own audience.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions–of the community itself! Sometimes the best way to figure out what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong is simply to ask. People love giving advice, especially if you show that you respect what they have to say. Ask generally or ask a few key supporters, but ASK.

Keep learning. If there’s one thing social media has taught us, it’s that we never stop finding out something new. Build in time for research, block off your calendar if you have to, but do it. Take advantage of free webinars on LinkedIn, BrightTalk and HubSpot; attend Twitter chats, look at other sites in your niche to see how they’re managing their communities. And have fun!

Ryan Paugh, community director, Young Entrepreneur Council (Brazen Careerist co-founder)

Listening is most important. Good communities become great because of a community manager who has taken the time to step back and watch what the community does on its own, then take steps to build new tools and engagement opportunities to empower members. Get it out of your head that you are the leader of the community and instead focus on scouting for your communities real leaders. When you find them, find ways to empower them to do the community-building job for you so you can focus on building the tools and resources that your community needs to continue to grow.

Dave Ellis, community manager, YouTern

Community managers have an opportunity to build and maintain the company’s “voice.” This can have such a huge impact on everything from networking to building partner relationships, assisting with customer service, establishing the company as an expert in its field, as well as developing and strengthening the brand. If the company puts an emphasis on social media, the community manager can have significant influence.

I make sure to participate regularly in several Twitter chats, in order to build and maintain relationships and to help partners and our users through advice and information. I am also active in maintaining consistent activity on YouTern’s blog. This helps us inform and mentor our users. Our internships are regularly tweeted on a daily schedule with humorous, attention-getting descriptions – “irreverent, fun and informative” is the look we’ve created there.

Are you a community manager with something to add to the conversation? Are you interested in becoming a community manager and have questions about how to get started? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and join us for a special Network Roulette event for community managers on June 15.

Noel Rozny is a member of the Brazen Life Contributor Network.

0 Comments

  1. Sadya Sid

    It would be really helpful if the community managers above could talk about some of the phases that a community goes through or some of the common trends they’ve seen in the communties they built.

    • Anonymous

      Also, if you’re free to attend the event on 6/15, you can ask these kinds of questions (and more) to a bunch of community managers directly!

      • Sadya Sid

        Noel , if the time difference works out then I’ll surely attend it. Have RSVPed already.

        • Anonymous

          Looking forward to seeing you! Thanks again for the great questions.

  2. Anonymous

    @Sadya, Thanks for the question!! I can’t speak for the others, but I can tell you that when I started building the community for myFootpath, Twitter was a huge resource for me. I started by identifying the experts and through leaders in our target niches (education and career development), reading their blogs, following them, watching who they followed, and growing our list and reaching out that way. By actively engaging others in our areas through blog comments, guest posts, and on Twitter, we were able to start building our community, and eventually engage with students of all ages (which is who we are looking to help!) Is that helpful?

  3. Becky B

    Great to read all the insight! Thanks so much for including me, Noël. One other thing I’ve had to learn is that while you may want the magic to happen overnight, it takes time–and effort–to get the conversations flowing.

    I have the Network Roulette on my calendar!
    – Becky

    • Anonymous

      Becky, that’s a great point! Being patient is KEY. I think you really need a good 6 months to a year to build a strong, solid community base.

    • Jaclyn Schiff

      Hey Becky, I really enjoyed your tips! Thanks for your contribution. Hopefully we will connect at the event!

  4. Ryan Paugh

    Awesome post Noel. Thanks for reaching out and asking me to contribute. I’m sure that your NR event is going to be a good. Wish I could make it…

    • Jwschiff

      Great tips Ryan!!

    • Anonymous

      Thanks so much! I’m looking forward to hearing what everyone else is up to and learning some new strategies!

  5. Grace Boyle

    What a great compilation of community managers. The thought that comes to mind with the communities I’ve managed is to do more PULL, versus PUSH. You can’t constantly push your product, talk about yourself, etc. it’s a lot about what you can do for them, thanking them, hooking them up and doing things for them because in the end, it helps everyone because it’s circular.

    • Anonymous

      Grace, I love that concept! You’re so right on. Are you attending the event on June 15? I’d love to pick your brain!

      • Grace Boyle

        I am going to be at a concert that night! Or else, I would have loved to. Next time and thanks 🙂

    • Allison

      Couldn’t agree more Grace! The goal of social media isn’t to be self promotional. Just because people follow you on Twitter or are a fan on Facebook, doesn’t mean they are signing up to be hit with all of your company’s self promotional content. Offer them valuable information, and sure occasionally shoot them a company update but that shouldn’t be the focus or point of your social media efforts.

  6. Jennifer Capenito

    Thank you so much for including me, Noel! It is nice to be included with this great group of community managers! I am looking forward to the networking event 🙂 ~ Jen

    • Anonymous

      Can’t wait to see you, Jen! Thanks so much for the great advice! 🙂

  7. wall art

    Thanks alot for sharing this with us, was a really interesting psot.

  8. Allison

    As a community manager, I can’t agree more with Becky on the importance of being transparent and authentic when posting in your communities. We are just coming out of one of the biggest outages in our company history, and we have learned a lot about communicating with our fans. Transparency, authenticity, and responding as a human and not a corporation are of the utmost importance. Some takeaways that I think others would benefit from is, address every issue, no matter how big or small (your fans appreciate this), and make sure to see things from your customers point of view and respond accordingly. It’s hard to accept that you can’t make everyone happy, but do whatever you can to try to when things aren’t going their way!

    • Becky B

      Exactly, addressing every issue that comes up is paramount to instilling a sense of “Yes, we really do care” in the community. The way the community managers address negative comments is extremely important. You’re never going to make everyone happy all of the time, but doing your best with the customer’s needs in mind makes for a great community.

  9. ed han

    Excellent suggestions here folks. I couldn’t possibly see this & fail to comment!

    I particularly like the emphasis everyone puts on transparency & the primacy of fostering authentic relationships. I especially liked Ryan’s point re: taking a step back & letting the community grow: I’ve certainly seen overzealous management in a community.

  10. The one and ONLY

    Thanks for this article, Noel! I realized very recently how much I would LOVE to become a community manager. I would appreciate any tips or advice on how to get started 🙂

  11. Rashida Thompson

    Thank you for this article, Noel! I would LOVE to learn more about becoming a community manager. I would appreciate any tips or advice from others in the field as well!

  12. Dimitrihouse

    The importance of the community manager role to a company is not surprising. What is surprising is simply how long it has taken for companies to realise it.
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