A Community Manager Goes Back to Basics

Speech Bubble Icon on the Brick and Plastered Wall.

The role of community manager is a growing one that requires near-constant innovation and skill in various disciplines. In my search for new resources on the old cornerstones, I recently watched a webinar conducted in November 2013 by Dennis Shiao, director of product marketing at DNN Corp: The Seven Traits Of Highly Effective Community Managers.

Thankfully, nothing here was news to me, but Dennis’ tips serve as useful reminders when improvisation—an essential trait for any community manager—starts leading you too far off the beaten path.

  1. Use creative ways to find a solution to an issue. Community managers must always be prepared for whatever problems may arise. They may run into a community member who is angry and combative or who may be posting aggressive comments. Instead of removing or “unsubscribing” this person, a better idea is to send a personal message or email to the member and ask them what they would like to see out of their community. Instead of giving up on the member and taking the easy route of deactivation, going a step further and reaching out could yield more positive results. The member may suggest an amazing idea that hadn’t been discussed previously and will engage more members.
  2. Have your eyes and ears open. Community managers regularly check on their community to ensure that it is thriving and that conversations are taking place. It is important to identify and respond to any trends that may come up in conversations. For example, if community members are asked about a new electronic device, but they keep mentioning a different brand that makes the same device, it is clear that your members are drawn to something deeper about the competing brand.
  3. Be unconventional and stand out. How can you ensure that your work stands out and is acknowledged? I asked myself that same question last year when I was tasked with finding a new format for writing monthly community reports. I decided that, due to my background in journalism, I would try a newsletter design instead of the typical Microsoft Word one-pager. After numerous experiments trying different fonts, headers, and layouts, I created an unconventional template that my clients embraced. Had I not experimented, not only would I have missed an opportunity to use my creativity, but I would have never found that particular solution.

These three guidelines stood out to me the most, but all of Shiao’s tips are worth reviewing: The Seven Traits Of Highly Effective Community Managers.

Courtney Paul fulfills the role of community manager at KL Communications for various clients, managing content, member engagement and creating detailed reports about insights and findings. KL Communications is a collaborative research agency that specializes in co-creation via communities, providing you and your customers with shared experiences that deliver the insights that drive innovation.

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