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.