Author Archive for Carol Kelly

Interview with Community Manager Deb Ng

Deb Ng is an exceptional community organizer and genuinely kind person.   After speaking with her for only moments, I realized that she is an exceptionally warm, friendly, interesting, caring individual and a “people person”.

She identifies as a social media enthusiast, oversharer, and author of Online Community Management for Dummies. She laughs hard at her own jokes (and others) and currently blogs at kommein.com. You can follow her on twitter @debng or find her on Google+. Deb  has always loved writing and started as a freelance writer.  In 2005, she started an online community for freelance writers in the form of a blog that grew into the number one community for freelance writers and became a network of eight blogs which she later sold. In 2008, she was offered her first actual job as a community manager with Blog Talk Radio. That was it; she was hooked!

Deb Ng embodies everything we have learned about being a community manager that wears many hats: leader, content developer, moderator, community advocate, mediator and analyst. I asked Deb to talk her strategy as she goes about starting a new community. This is what she shared:

  • Determine who is your community? Pinpoint the types of people you want to reach. Create a profile of what a member looks like. Determine your demographics.
  • Ask “why are you building this community?” “What do you want to achieve?” The answers will help with goal setting.
  • Determine your goals to create the campaign and talking points.
  • Find out where these people hang out. Why would they want to join my community? What is special about you?
  • Give them a compelling reason to follow you. If you are just like everyone else they won’t follow or engage.
  • Once you have them engaged, you can get them to talk to each other. This will lead to hangouts and meetups. Now you have something to work with! You can engage people off line as well as online.
  • Then you can start recruiting, online and offline. Create an atmosphere of brand advocates that will share your message and help new members to feel welcome.
  • Look for bloggers to interact with. They will be a great asset but don’t forget to send them some “love” and reciprocation.
  • Move the community to a conference setting. Create an experience for them so they want to share this community with others.
  • Brands that get the most buzz are the ones that are the most creative. Good examples – Chobani, Oreo.

As I listened to Deb Ng, I recognized that she was the embodiment of the things we had read and learned in our class. The books we used, the articles we read and the information we gained from our Google+ hangouts were all brought to life in this lively conversation with an active community manager. Let me leave you with these best practices from Deb Ng’s book,Online Community Management for Dummies:

online cm book*Stay impartial

*Have a regular presence in your community and others

*Respond in a timely manner

*Keep a positive tone

*Be supportive of the brand and the community

*Forge relationships

*Promote the community

*Be passionate about the community

*Stay on top of trends

*Continue Your Education

 

Use the guidelines provided here, keep Deb’s words of wisdom and experience in mind and have fun! All of this will lead you to great success as a community manager.

 

 

Community Manager – A Job Description

community womanagerThis new(ish) and exciting career has many people asking the question – “What exactly is a Community Manager and what do they do?”  Most of my friends have no clue what my position entails, so I will direct them to this post for the answers. Most people know it has something to with social media but that is the extent of it. This is my attempt to explain what it is that community managers do.

Community management is an art not a science! First of all and most importantly, Community Managers connect people with other people around a common interest or brand. This is done both internally in a business and externally with consumers (B2C) or other businesses (B2B). It is the role of the Community Manager to connect people and help them to develop relationships based on common interests and then facilitate initial conversations with the goal of allowing relationships to be built. This is done both online and offline, in person. This relationship building is the core of the Community Managers responsibility, after all if there is no community there is no need for a community manager.

After the community, there are many other responsibilities that are delegated to the Community Manager such as:

face of brand

  • BE the FACE of the brand – because the primary function of the community manager is to connect and build relationships they are the face that people associate with the brand. When the community has a real, live person that they communicate with, they see that person as the brand. The community manager is the living, breathing, talking version of a brand.
  • Content creation – based on knowledge of the community’s interests the community manager will write blog posts, make videos, write newsletters or other wise engage on social media platforms based on the brand’s direction and the interest of the community members.
  • Analytics – use of  measuring devices is the the best way to monitor the effects of your campaigns. By setting goals and monitoring the data it will be easy to see where adjustments need to be made in your marketing plan. What should be measured will vary from brand to brand.
  • Social media marketing – use online tools to do effective outreach, i.e. Twitter, Facebook (what is the value of a like?), YouTube, Instagram or other relevant products. The community manager is much like the conductor of an orchestra bringing all of the individual components together to “make beautiful music”. Community-Manager
  • Event planner – because communities thrive when they have a deeper connection, it is the responsibility to plan ways for them to meet live and in person. By planning events to promote the brand and connect people, the community manager looks for relevant ways to get the party started.

The role of community manager goes well beyond these basics. Great communication skills are a must! The community manager must work with internal departments of brand to be the voice of the community and to coordinate effective marketing strategies. For this reason, they have outgoing, friendly personalities, good writing and speaking skills and posses a passion for the product or brand they represent.  They must also posses excellent time management skills, the ability to multitask and be someone who can remain calm under pressure. After all, we are talking about a group of people expressing opinions. There will be times when tempers may flare or inappropriate comments may be made and you will be the one responsible for calming the waters.

To wrap this all up, a community manager is a brand advocate, engagement expert, data center, builder of relationships internally and externally,builds community with online tools and offline events,  represents community members’ interests, works on marketing with the help of all departments, and uses analytics to measure success or make adjustments. The primary function is to engage users to create community! What are the results? Happy customers!!

So, do you think you have what it takes to be a community manager? Want more contact with other community managers? Check in on Twitter.

Scaling and Growth in Online Communities

banner_online_communityAs an online community grows, it has different needs. “The community manager will find him or herself dealing with new challenges that may require adjustments be made in order to scale their efforts.” (Richard Millington, FeverBee). Scaling your community is a good way to proceed and be effectual .

The role of a community manager should  evolve from  handling day to day work towards developing processes which allow the community to scale and develop.  Using data to optimize growth is a great way to get things moving.

  • Using Data – Now some of you may be saying “I’m a community manager not a data analyst!” While this is true, capital is an ever-present constraint, and the focus must always be to squeeze maximum growth from limited capital. Data is the answer. It will help you find target topics that are shared by members in the community. Maybe it is a demographic, a physical location or the fact that they all like cheese. Find the commonality and get them talking to each other. This will create a new branch of your ever growing community.
  • Track Members – It is important for you to recognize what stage all of your members are at.  While it looks great to have a large number of registered members you will need to quickly find the active ones. They will be posting at least every month (or more frequently). They will also be fundamental in helping new members to feel welcome. This is a great way to get new members to convert to regulars. By tracking active, regular and new members you will keep your community balanced and healthy. You will also recognize where you need to work as members come and go, your community grows, and you identify your potential leaders of conversation.
  • Conversions – In the words of Richard Millington, founder of FeverBee, “Golden Rule 3: The conversion process neither begins nor ends with the registration page.” We need to focus on how many active, participating, members you have. To do that, look at what happens after the registration page.  It may be better to ask for their first contribution before being asked to give a username, password and e-mail to register. After they register, get them to the “party” right away. Direct them with a link or some other vehicle to get them engaged. This is the shift from new to participating member. From here, your community can help to encourage a long term membership and active participation if the member is looking for that. This is where they become more involved, posting and commenting, actively engaging in the community. The next step –Volunteers.
  • Volunteers – This is the cream of the crop and well worth tracking. Their numbers will be low, but this group will be a part of creating growth, activity and a sense of belonging in the community. This form of scaling helps the community manager shift from managing all members to managing the volunteers, thus freeing up time for other things like strategic planning and tracking data.

online cm book

Most communities that fail do so because they spend too much time and money building in the wrong forum before realizing too late what the right forum should have been. Some great advice from one of the top Community Mangers in the business, Deb Ng, author of Online Community Management for Dummies shares this thought -“Logging all of your community’s activities and actions will help you determine how your community is growing and what areas need work.” Using all of the tools available to keep track of your community’s activities will help you achieve your goals. These words of wisdom will be a great guide to you as you pursue your passion to grow your online community.

Thanks for reading and feel free to share your comments, thoughts, tips and tricks of scaling and growing an online community.

 

#CMGRCHAT – “Battle of the Sexes”

CM  avatar images

 

I took the opportunity to check-in to the Twitter chat  of #cmgrchat on Wednesday, April 10th. I found the experience to be very enlightening and entertaining. The topic was formatted as “Battle of the Sexes”, which become apparent throughout the conversations that it was not really a battle but more of an open, honest conversation.

I wasn’t completely sure how to jump in to the conversation so I sat back and “listened” for a bit. The conversations were fluid with people shareing ideas and responding to tweets. It was apparent to me that most of them had a great familiarity with one another, which seemed to allow an open and “real” conversation regarding everything from pay scales (By the way, in case you were wondering about the pay, @TheCmgr shared this – “In 2012 men made an average of $54,880 to women in the same role making $50,400. How can women close the gap?”) to advice for communities and deliberating the possibilities of male and female roles as a community manager. The question was posed  regarding the possibility of an ungendered community manager position. Some examples that were given were “only a female could be the community manager of a feminine hygiene product”, or “could a female represent a predominantly man’s brand and get a good response from the community”.

m vs f

The majority of the CM’s on the chat seemed to agree that it is about connecting with your community regardless of gender. I personally have to agree with this statement. From what we have been learning and what I have observed online, a good community manager can connect with their community and engage well regardless of their gender. I think there may be only a few times where gender can matter. One was mentioned in the chat as dealing with women who have been abused. They may not be open to having a male as the community manager or feel they can openly “unload” in that space. @DebNg said it well with “It shouldn’t be tied to a specific gender, but how will the community react?” This is the primary question that should be asked and answered. It it is the community that ultimately will decide the effectiveness of its manager.

Community Connecting

My personal experience with this chat was amazement. I was very impressed with the open conversation in the safe environment that has been created there. People shared their opinions openly and were met with honest responses. That seems to be what a community should be all about. I also was impressed with the amount of great information sharing that took place there.( I can’t wait until I have time to check in weekly!) The take aways I gained from this experience were:

  • Sometimes you must agree to disagree but always be respectful about it
  • A key is being sensitive to needs of your community
  • In most cases it *shouldn’t* matter what the gender of the cmgr is. In some cases is absolutely matters.
  • A great #CMGR transcends gender and creates a community around a product, mission, goal, interest.
  • The best person for the job is the best person for the job, regardless of gender

Looking forward to all that this talented and creative group of community managers has to share in the future. It seems to be a great place to connect with knowledgeable, intelligent and kind people. Great community of Community managers!

Tips to Gain Brand Loyalty

So you want people to get to know and love your brand. Creating a reason to be loyal is the first step. Traditionally, PR and Advertising have carried this load but the internet has brought a new dimension of contact and influence with online marketing and outreach via social media. We all want to know how to get a big slice of that pie, don’t we? Creating brand loyalty is a giant step towards getting help from your following. Some keys to this are trust and confidence in you and your brand.

 

  •  Do some research to find out where your ambassadors are. Where are people talking about you and what are they saying? This will give you an idea of what motivates them. Ask them about their interests.
  • Encourage your community to give input and state opinions on posts and shared information. Make it relevant to their lives and they will continue to return for more interactions.
  • Find interesting topics for them to interact with each other. This will help in building relationships within the community. We all like to hang out “where everybody knows our name“.
  • Be a part of the action, reply to comments and encourage members to engage.

 

Value by alshepmcr

 

Words of wisdom from Britt Michaelian  – “when the facilitator of the community is thoughtful about making the community about the group and not their own need for a “flock”, the group will respond to the space that the community leader creates for each member of the community to flourish.” This just plain makes sense! Think of your own experiences in an online community and I am sure you will relate to this. Don’t you value being heard and acknowledged, I know I do.

Loyalty comes from a feeling of connection.” [BM]

As the community grows, you will easily identify frequent commentator, brand advocates that are destine to become ambassadors for your brand. These are people that talk to others in the community and out of the community. You will hear and see them on other platforms singing your brands praises and sharing that love with all the world. These are the people you want to recognize and reward. Be sure to thank them publicly and frequently. They will be engaging with other community members (or members to be) and you want them to to nothing but good to say about your brand. You can also have offline meetups where the relationships can grow and the community will become more connected with these vocal brand advocates/ambassadors.

brand ambassador

Find brand ambassadors within your community is one way to get the word out, but there are others. Connecting with communities that share a common interest is another. Take time to chat in be interested in their community and they may very well look into yours. You can also recruit people that blog or write for online publications to become brand ambassadors after you have spent time creating a relationship and finding a fit for both of you. Most importantly, don’t forget the rewards. Rewards don’t need to be extravagant, but they should be meaningful.

 

rewards str8 ahead

 

Be a giver to your community. Offer meaningful rewards and watch your community respond.  Here are some suggestions for rewards:

  • Offer free tickets to an upcoming event that you are having
  • Offer a badge after they recommend people to your community.
  • Create an “ambassador” program that has special events of chats by invitation only
  • Create a points system for referrals to the community

There are many ways to reward you brand ambassadors, just be as creative as you can. If you need more reasons to do this take a look at what this article has to say. Remember, communities are all about relationships. Be yourself, introduce interesting topics and interact with with everyone who comments on your post. This is a sure way to create the experience you and your community are looking for.

Blogger Outreach Done Right – 5 Tips

Bloggers have become almost “God-like” in world of social media. The power of the internet has an immense impact on they way we communicate and bloggers have learned to harness it. They know how to reach a large audience (some across the globe) and are masters at promoting something they believe in. So it makes sense that other bloggers want to connect/link with them and businesses want them to promote their product or service. All of this is good stuff, but there are ways to reach out to bloggers,some are wrong some are right. Lets look at the right ways!

 

global presence

Tip #1- Blogs are Earned Media

  • Bloggers have done a lot of work to build their community, respect that
  • They have earned the respect of others online and need yours when approaching them (you must earn their respect)
  • Bloggers relationships with community and others is “all important”

Blogger outreach is not a quick win. You will need to invest time, effort, and patience. Spend time to get to know the bloggers and what they represent. Check them out on other social media channels to make sure they are a fit for you and you are a fit for them. You can know they are a fit after you determine who your target audience is, what their interests are and where they “hang out”. Remember, trust and respect are everything as you start to build your your relationship.

community manager orange

 Tip #2 – Help To Promote the Bloggers

  • Subscribe to their blog
  • Promote them on your Facebook page or Google+ and follow them on Twitter and re-tweet their best tweets
  • Offer them an interview or promote them to someone who will value their interview
  • Talk to colleagues about them and mention them in speaking engagements

Bloggers are looking to grow their own audience so they will value the fact that you have helped to promote them. This will also help you to build a transparent relationship with them that is based on mutual trust and engagement. This collaboration will serve both of you well.

blogging

 Tip #3 – Make It Easy for the Blogger to Write

  •  Give them the details in a short, concise manner and make it easy to read
  • Feed them an angle to make the story more interesting
  • Supply appropriate images and links to website

By making the writing an easier task, you will help the blogger, create a stronger relationship and give the blogger a reason to continue to work with them. Relationships are the most important issue in this world of social media, so do everything you can to maintain and grow yours with the bloggers. Making their life easier will certainly go far to help this process.

King Content

Tip #4 – Content is King

  • Make sure your content is relevant to the bloggers audience
  • Keep your message fresh, entertaining, and interesting
  • Be sure to be informative but DO NOT try to give a sales pitch ( do some impactful storytelling instead)

Quality is everything when approaching a blogger. The content you provide must be the most current information and should be shared in the context of a good story rather than a sales pitch. Keep it interesting and use humor when possible. Don’t forget to use relevant keywords and hyperlinks to get the best SEO posible.

 

track and measure

Tip #5 – Track and Measure

  • Once your story is featured have the blogger notify you so you can see the comments and interact with the community
  • Promote the post through your own social media channels and track levels of engagement
  • Measure what matters – use free or low cost tool to measure your predetermined objectives
  • Create a report weekly to see the progress

Always set your objectives for the campaign ahead of time. This will help you to determine what metrics to measure. Be sure to set up an automated system to keep track of the progress in case you get tied up. Use tools that you can become comfortable with – Google Alerts, Trackur, Inkybee, Viralheat are few to take a look at.

It is important to treat your potential brand manager as a partner  not a faceless tool. Be thankful for their help and don’t bombard them. Make them feel special! I hope you gained some insightful information and your time reading was well spent. I would love you to share some tools that you use for tracking and measuring as I am always on the lookout for improvements.

Until next time -“Happy Trails”!

 

Conflict Resolution Takes Great Communication Skills

angry customer

We have been looking at many aspects of community management and while the position can be full of exciting experiences, inevitably you will run into a difficult or angry community member. What do you do when your peaceful, friendly, cooperative community is upset by an angry person? You know the type. They start with rude comments and remarks and continue to escalate while they suck your community into their negative vortex. Conflict resolution entails a journey into the unknown. No matter how much we prepare, we can never know for sure how another will react to us or respond to our message. Not surprisingly, this uncertainty leads many to avoid conflict rather than venture into the unknown, but as a community manager you will need the skills to resolve conflicts.

Olivier Blanchard has 15+ years of marketing management experience and gives us some rules to follow in his book  Social Media ROI. He offers us some practical advice that is relevant to the position a community manager may find themselves in. Lets take a look at a summary of what he offers –

THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT – this is the Golden rule of any business. Even if the customer is wrong, they are right. This is where you begin the journey into conflict resolution. When you come up against an angry customer, you never, ever engage in an argument with them, especially online. Imagine the scenario, you post one inflammatory comment to an angry person, what happens next? Don’t think for one moment that an online argument is about finding a resolution or point of agreement. It is a smack down, pure and simple. There will be no victor and you will certainly lose creditability.

no winners

Conflict resolution online is very different from the real world experience. If you were face to face with a customer, you would have the opportunity to use your body language as a tool to deal with the situation. You do not have this tool available in an online scenario you are faceless. A best practice would be to take it offline and speak with the customer directly without an audience. Remember to always be polite and treat them with respect regardless of how they behave.

By Campbell Addy

By Campbell Addy

Blanchard states – “Unreasonable customers are not the enemy.”  This is a great message to keep in mind. They will help you to grow and develop your communication skills. Take the higher ground and be thankful for this opportunity. We all need to keep practicing to be the best we can be so embrace the challenge. This also gives us the opportunity to practice humility. Blanchard shares that we should not be afraid to apologize, even when we don’t have to. How do you feel when someone is compassionate and apologetic towards you? This is what your customer needs. Reach out to them!

reach out

 By acknowledging the customers dispute and engaging them in the process to resolution you are well on your way.  This would be the time to recruit your customer as a partner in creating the solution. Blanchard suggests that you use this phrase, “I understand your frustration. How can I help?” By asking this question you have engaged them in the process by “shifting them from complaint mode to solution mode.” These best solution will come when the customer is involved. If the customers solution is not reasonable Blanchard suggests that you “apologize and say you can’t do that, but offer another solution.”

Online conflict resolution:

  • should always be done calmly and politely
  • should be done offline if it will require a more sensitive approach
  • should be managed in a professional manner (crowds tend to take sides)
  • should use the individuals name when possible
  • should recruit your customer into the resolution process

By following these simple guidelines and using your own communication skills, you are on your way to becoming a master of conflict resolutions. What are some ways that you have learned to resolve conflicts? We would like to know so leave a comment.

Until next time, “Happy Trails”!

A Week of Moderation For CMGRclass – Lessons Learned

CMGRclass

It was my pleasure to moderate the #CMGRclass the week of March 3rd – March 10th. It was an especially busy week as it was the time for mid-term tests and projects. I found balancing my moderation with my regular schedule in addition to midterm activities a real challenge. I recognized that this is  probably the way of the real world in Community Management and rose to the challenge. I started to plan about a week before my turn and began looking for good information to share. My topic was blogging so there were numerous directions available, so I had to decide what I thought would be interesting to talk about.

As I thought about creating interaction within the community, I made the decision to post a few things that I thought were informative but  to focus on responding to others posts as a way to interact. I wanted to create a more inclusive atmosphere by responding to others posts rather than dictate the topics.

red-50

On March 3rd, I posted about tips for choosing blog topics – “50 Can’t-Fail Techniques for Finding Great Blog Topics“. This seemed to resonate with people as they responded favorably to the article. I chose this article because I know I have challenges at time to find the right topic for blogging.

Rod Koch posted an interesting read about CDO jobs on March 4th. I decided to see where people would go with this so I responded to his post and kept an eye on the interactions. This was followed by Kelly’s post about the “hot topic” of the week, the hybrid position of social media manger and community manager. Although the majority of postings were by Jenn and Kelly, it was very informative and got people thinking. A vast amount of valuable information was shared.

phpThumb_generated_thumbnailMy next post was March 5th. I found an article that was very motivating – ” A Physics teacher creates a new Blogging Record in India!!!” It talked about his record 365 blog postings in one year. I chose this as an inspirational piece to get the community thinking about posting in a different way. I feel this was a good choice as the community responded favorably and had a lot to say about the article as well as their own aspirations. After this post things started to slow down a bit. I was not surprised by this as it was quickly approaching Spring Break time. I had anticipated a weaker response towards the end of the week due to this fact.

I did not post on Wednesday because I am at work at 8:30 am and then have classes from 12:30 pm until 10 pm. It does not lend much time to check in to the community or anything else for that matter. Kelly made two posts on the 6th that were informative to the class but did not generate much conversation. Jessica Smith shared a post on March 7th – “Why I Took Down My *Guest Posting* Page“. Responses came from Sonny, Micheal, Jessica M., and myself.

frustrationI got back on track by posting in the morning on March 7th. I wanted to create a connection with the community by asking about their personal plans over break. It seemed as though the people that were working were the ones that responded. This was no surprise!  I posted later in the day with an article that talked about finishing and posting a blog rather than trying to “make it perfect”. I believe that this was a good choice as the responses were interesting and conversations ensued about the topic. I also posted about “how to monetize your blog“. I decided to post this because several of the members of the community had mentioned they needed to make money or needed a job. I thought this might be helpful information and I had gained a lot from reading the article. Only two responses but I am not surprised as the week was winding down to break.

I wrapped up the week with a couple of posts I found interesting. Again, thinking of my classmates, I offered a post that shares way to get paid blogging. I had gotten some freelance writing work from the site so I thought it might help others in the class.

Things Learned:

  • I felt my strategy of not over posting but encouraging community interaction was successful.
  • Preparing for moderation in advance was the key for me to be ready and have valuable information to share.
  • Be aware of reasons for fluctuation of interactions. Having the week before a break has a set of challenges for gaining interaction.
  • By reading the community posts you can insight into their thoughts and interests.
  • It takes a balance of time, effort and content to gain community support.

I feel I have gotten a good insight of the “real world” position f community manager. It is challenging and exciting. It is certainly not for the unmotivated person or anyone looking for an “easy” job. The commitment to growing a community is challenging but also very rewarding as you learn as much from them as they learn from you.

In reflection of these results, Thursday was the best day relative to interaction. I do believe that an eminent vacation had a strong effect on participation.

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Trust Agents – Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

Brogan and Smith

Julien and Chris

I love to read, especially books that help me grow in social media. I recently read a book that I have heard a lot of “buzz” about, Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. These guys have really used their experience well to deliver the basics of creating community, using social media tools and networking.

 I liked what I read and the fact that they used some of their own personal experiences as examples of what to do and what not to do. However,  I felt  like it maybe more focused on the newbies to this world of social media. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It is always good to be reminded of the basics and what is important. I especially like the the “Six Characteristics of a Trust Agent“.  If you only read that one section you will learn enough about the concepts to implement their ideas for success. The idea of “build an army” resonated the most for me. It goes something like this –

Build An Army – this is a key component to successful community building. This will create an opportunity for collaboration from a varied set of resources. The best approach to any problem is with a variety of like-minded people being committed to a common outcome. Remember, you cannot do it alone!

army

So, what do you after you have amassed this army? You continue to engage and support them. It seems obvious that making your own game is crucial to attracting an audience and building a community, but you can’t just leave them hanging. If your content is fresh and brings a unique perspective to the topic(s) you discuss, you should have no problem attracting an audience and getting them engaged.

Another message that Brogan and Smith seem to make loud and clear is the fact that everyone needs to support and create opportunities for others, as well. An example that Smith gives is when Brogan was offered an opportunity to speak at an event in Los Angeles. Uunable to do it because of a scheduling conflict, he checked his network of people and referred the client to three other qualified professionals. In doing this, he showed us how we can use a network to problem solve effectively and look good doing it. This will not be soon forgotten by the other parties and is a prime example of the “Archimedes effect”.  The “pay it forward” mentality that Brogan employed will certainly provide a healthy ROI in the future as he is remembered for his generosity.

 

hands reaching

As a community manager, the use of all of these characteristics are important.  As a community manager you are working to develop a fully engaged audience that will help you with your mission because they are connected and passionate about your brand or cause.

Brogan and Smith have demonstrated some great fundamental ideas to an effective, transparent approach of how to become a good `community manager and a trust agent. Some essential concepts to take away for being a Trust Agent and/ or a Community Manager are truth, transparency and willingness to help others. While there will be a lot work to gather and maintain a community, the rewards will far outweigh the efforts. If you need more information or a deeper clarification of how to become a Trust Agent, I recommend reading Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith.

 

Creating An Online Community Is Easy … Not Quick!

evolution

If you build it, they will come.

Are you looking to  understand the value of creating online communities? The biggest reasons for doing so may be to share ideas with,  answer questions for, and gain the support of others for your business and personal endeavors. With opportunities to connect world wide via the internet, everyone has the ability to find others that have common interests. It is a beautiful thing!

So, now comes the “daunting” task of finding these people and getting connected. How do you go about starting to grow a community, you may be asking? Perhaps you have come to the right place to get some answers. The first and foremost thing to remember is, “build your community ONE person at a time. ” You cannot build a company overnight, so don’t expect to build your community overnight. Just like a fine wine, it takes time to get to perfection.

question mark

As you undertake your task of starting a community, ask yourself  a few questions:

These questions can get you started and once you have those answers you are ready to move on to the next step. As you begin to scour the universe for your community, a good place to start is with your friends and other online communities you are involved in. Let them know what you are up to and engage them in conversations. Make personal connections! Everyone likes to be valued, don’t you?

You can connect with people online and invite them to your community. Once they get there, don’t leave them hanging, introduce them to the community you already have and help them integrate. You could also invite them to a Google + hangout or invite them to a private group from your community. This investment of your time upfront will pay off later as begin to see your community take on the lead role of talking about whatever you started to market yourself. They will do this because they are invested in the community. They are passionate about what is contained in this community. They will want to be evangelists for you and your brand because they have found value in it. A great way to keep feeding the enthusiasm is to invite guest postings to your community. Keep things fresh, get new perspectives and your members will share their enthusiasm with others to keep things growing .

 

outreach

 

As the community starts to grow and flourish, keep in mind you should never take them for granted. They will be helping you by fielding questions, supporting your brand and recruiting others to join the community. Always treat them with respect. These key ideas may serve to remind you:

  • Don’t ask your community to do something without knowing what is in it for them
  • Don’t “sell” to them, rather, inform them
  • If you do offer something to them be sure they can afford it
  • Don’t ignore problems or negative issues that come to the light.
  • BE TRANSPARENT

Remember, you have a sacred commitment to your community to be honest, consistent, and supportive if you want them to continue to be a part of your brand. It takes time to build a solid community. Don’t try to rush the process, just concentrate on good content, consistency, and outreach. If you build it, they will come!

Until next time, “Happy Trails”!