This week I was able to sit in on a panel with four active Community Managers. It was a great conversation discussing the types of communities and engagement tactics used in their day-to-day work.
What was especially interesting was even though every person fell under the umbrella of community management, they had very different roles and objectives in comparison. Each focused on different categories of community management, such as content management, support, moderation and engagement. These distinctions seemed to be formed by the industry, brand’s strategic objectives, and the nature of the community.
For example, the tech manufacturer Lenovo’s community has a different atmosphere than Vimeo’s. People who are a member of Vimeo’s community are most likely passionate about producing creative content, or enjoy consuming creative content. This community has different values and ways of interacting than the tech-focused Lenovo community. The differences in the needs and values have an impact on how a community manager encourages engagement.
Gavin O’Hara from Lenovo drove this point home even further: “The first rule of community management could easily be knowing your audience…first, who is your audience in broad strokes, and then you dig deeper… you can’t define your audience by one set of people” This point was a common theme that persisted through the panel, all of the panelists seemed to agree of the importance of listening to your community, despite the industry.
Alex Dao is part of of a community team of 22 personnel, that works congruently on interconnected layers of the Vimeo community. They have many opportunities for members to participate in the community, holding events, weekend challenges, distributing lessons, and curating channels with highlighted videos in addition to support and social media interactions. This is a great example of engaging all streams of a community, with knowing what niche groups would enjoy engaging in a certain way.
In contrast, Cara Conner manages her community solo, concentrating on twitter chats, email, outreach, and PolicyMic’s new fellowship. This fellowship is a part of the transition of PolicyMic from thought leaders to more regular, young journalists. She hopes that the fellowship shifts the focus from web traffic to the voice and stories of the target audience of PolicyMic—Millennials. In that way the fellows are the brand ambassadors, the actual voice of the community.
Gavin O’Hara has been with Lenovo’s community from the start, growing the twitter following from 3,000 to about 2 million. He attributes trial and error a large part of the journey, but has a good handle on his community now. Something I found intriguing about the Lenovo community were the special Facebook group set up for the committed members of the brand. This group rewards the top-tier members by interacting one-on-one with the users, and making them feel like they are a part of something bigger. These tactics of recognizing passionate members of the community creates loyalty in addition to fostering engagement.
Tracey Churray of the Foursquare community team focuses more on the support side, and tapping into the community to build a database. Foursquare’s strategy is driven by crowdsourcing users for venue updates and tips, so they have unique relationship (and even reliance) with their community. They also have established a hierarchy within their community, giving increasing levels of power to more involved members. These tiers of Superusers are specially picked, and they get perks such as previews and special editing access. It’s a genius program, and plays well into Foursquare’s gamification M.O. Users are driven to reach the next status level of Superuser, and to reap the rewards.
- Above all, you must have a clear understand of your community
- Priority levels based on activity or membership establish loyalty
- Community Management is not solely social media- creating strong relationships is a result of diverse touch-points
Are you part of a brand community with a hierarchy? Does this inspire you to be more involved in the community?