Though community management is still somewhat of a new field, it’s an increasingly familiar term in the world of marketing and online business. The duties of a community manager are rarely finished, and a variety of skills are necessary in order to be successful.
Personally, one of my biggest goals as a community manager is to learn and improve every day. Here’s a list I’ve compiled of 7 ways to be a better community manager:
1. Divide your time
Most community managers are either (a) freelance consultants, (b) working at an agency, or (c) working for a brand. Regardless of which situation you’re in, it’s unlikely that community management is your only task. Figuring out a way to divide your time is the best way to ensure that you’re accomplishing everything you need to on a daily basis.
I make a list of things that must get done within the week, and then organize the list items by priority. Assigning certain tasks to certain days allows you to then create time-slots for each task. I’ve found that focusing on one thing for a shorter period of time without thinking about anything else is the best way to get things done when you’re faced with a variety of tasks.
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2. Expand your personal network
This concept is certainly nothing new – it really is all about who you know. Taking advantages of opportunities to connect with people both inside and outside of your industry is one of the most important things about being a community manager. If you’re working for a brand, there’s automatically two circles that you can take advantage of – the industry of the brand you’re working for, as well as the community management industry.
Utilizing tools like Twitter and Meetup to form relationships with as many people as possible will make you that much more successful. Further, forming personal relationships will help you better understand the way people work and be extremely beneficial when trying to build a community of various types of people.
3. Be proactive and reactive simultaneously
This is one of the most important skills that a community manager can have. It’s almost guaranteed that:
Listening to your community members and acknowledging their issues, advice, and success stories is important for improving your brand every day. At the same time, customers and community members aren’t going to do all the work – you need to reach out to them and make sure that they know you’re there and ready to listen.
4. Speaking of listening, Listen
You’ve probably heard this one before. At least three million times. But, it’s important to be aware of what you’re listening to and what you aren’t listening to that you should be. Don’t only listen to the members of your community – though, of course, they deserve a majority of your attention – but listen to people talking about your industry, topics on which you’re a thought leader, and your competitors. These are the people that might be your community members one day, and the sooner you find then, the sooner that day will come.
5. Don’t be afraid to borrow ideas
What makes great ideas great? They work. Stealing great ideas is one thing, but observing someone’s huge success and adapting a similar tactic to your work is certainly acceptable, and even encouraged.
6. Stop thinking of it as “us vs. them”
Since community management is so new, and extremely difficult to measure, it’s sometimes difficult to convince higher-ups and more traditional marketers that it’s necessary. Community managers are constantly looking to each other for ways to convince upper management that they can do great things if given the permission.
It’s time to stop viewing it as community managers vs. the world, and time to start working together. Getting things done is largely dependent upon the mindset with which you approach said tasks, and if you’re going into it thinking that it’s going to be difficult, then it will be. However, portraying the attitude that you’re going to be helping the company and making it a better brand and acting like a team player from the start will help all community managers to be taken more seriously and get the permission that they need to build the awesome things that they’re capable of building.
7. Love your brands and follow your passion
As a community manager, your job is to rally a bunch of people around the brand that you’re working for. If we’re being honest here, that just isn’t going to happen if you aren’t absolutely in love with the brand that you’re working for. Though the utility of following your passion sometimes questioned, I’m a firm believer that it will eventually take you to where you belong and want to be. Once you’re there, you will undoubtedly be able to share your contagious passion and build a community of others who love what you’re doing as much as you do.
Are you a community manager? How do you want to improve yourself?