The easiest way to become a terrible community manager is to focus solely on your own community.
Does that seem contradictory? It shouldn’t. A past panel mentioned that community managers aren’t just managing members – they’re also managing communities within communities. Same goes for the other way: your community is probably one among many other communities just like it. If you’re going to get anywhere with your community, you need to be a full incorporated member of sister communities, too.
So what’s the biggest thing you can do to strengthen your community management skills?
It’s simple: research.
In a presentation on Blogger Outreach, Jenn Pedde (our own #CMGRclass leader!) offers some advice in a presentation one how to stand out from the crowd in the sea of community managers.
KNOW YOUR BLOGS
This is a logical first step for CMs. Understanding where your blog exists among others is the best way to understand your position and to whom you need to reach out.
RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH
Another step to building a community is reaching out. A great way to spread the word is to create an ambassador program: an integrated team of people who love yours community and want to help it grow. When creating this team, Mack Collier insists that research is key to understand who will be the best people.
You can’t just sit back an pick the most active people: you need to watch, listen, and converse with people. Research, after all, isn’t just reading up!
EVERYTHING IS STRATEGIC
From Britt Michaelian’s blog post, she emphasizes how people are rejecting traditional marketing, and instead they crave connection.
Community managers are driven by this demand to supply connection, and most likely they are the kind of person that’s naturally good at it. What Michealian reminds us is that it’s important to remember how every action by a successful community manager is backed by a strategy. Every exchange is carefully crafted to maximize returns to the community.
Although “strategic” and “crafted” sounds like community managers aren’t genuine, it’s actually a good thing. CMs, after all, want people to find connections in their community. That’s their job. If a community manager can help someone make that connection, they try their hardest to establish it. Wouldn’t you want someone to do that for you?
This means that community managers are consistently watching other communities and community managers and learning from their every move. Where have they made mistakes? What has made them a big success? What are the best tried-and-true methods? When is it a good idea to step outside the box?
Being a community manager is like being in a relationship: they are not easy to maintain, they take a lot of work, and you learn from the past to get better next time. The only way to keep afloat is to constantly learn, make mistakes, reevaluate, and try hard.
What do you think about researching for community managers? If you’re a community manager, do you actively research throughout your day or week? Or is it more passive?