Everyone is talking about Generation Z these days. You know them … they are today’s tweens and teens—the kids just behind the Millennials, to whom everyone wants to talk. And with the buzz about Generation Z come the inevitable suggestions on how best to reach this group of young up-and-comers for online market research.
These “how-to” articles are great reminders of how to reach your audience. They are filled with great tips on how to “get to know Gen Z’ers,” or “how to learn from” this pre-Millennial generation. But to me, these articles tend to leave out the most important rule for a Community Manager—just show you care!
You don’t have to know the latest text abbreviations, or know who Miley and the Beebs are to get in touch with today’s kids. You don’t have to be hip, or know when the latest One Direction video hits Vevo. Just show them that you genuinely hear what they are saying, you can get them to open up and share their innermost thoughts and opinions with you.
This concept of caring isn’t just for Gen Z’ers. It’s for everyone. In fact, a strong Community Manager is able to connect with his or her community members in a way that fosters a strong relationship, and makes members feel comfortable sharing information. For Baby Boomers, acknowledge they may have a wealth of experience to draw on, and ask for their advice and opinions. Ask Millennials, or even Gen X’ers, for their thoughts on the latest tech gadgets. The key is to make a connection, and most connections are made through the simple act of caring.
Being a Community Manager is a lot like being a gardener. You have to cultivate your garden in order to grow a bountiful harvest. Community members need to be treated in a similar way. Cultivate them with kindness and caring. Show you’re interested in what they have to say. Respond to their comments politely, and in a way that indicates you understand them. Most people just want to be heard, and have their opinions count. Let them know that in your community, they do count, because you care!
Lisa Fuchs is the director of community research for KL Communications and specializes in qualitative study design and execution, moderation, and reporting. KL Communications is a collaborative research agency that specializes in co-creation via community management, connecting brands and consumers by empowering them to create together using a suite of collaborative tools.