As a community manager, I’m used to wearing a lot of hats. Be it, customer advocate, moderator, community builder, brand advocate and yes sometimes even referee. But, what I’m not is a “copy monkey.”
The whole idea that community managers are just cheap copywriters that play on Facebook all day needs to get debunked. And soon. Articles, like this one in Marketing Magazine a little awhile ago, continue to give the community manager a bad wrap.
Any knowledgeable community manager knows that forming any meaningful online and offline communities takes a whole lot of strategy and planning. Community management – when done well- is arguably at least 90% strategy and 10% tactical.
The benefits of building a community can pay off in dividends for any brand- big or small.
Turning customers into advocates
Increased brand awareness
Improving customer retention
Decreasing support costs
The list goes on and on.
However you don’t just send a few tweets and auto-magically get 1,000 replies and 500 people waiting in line to buy your new product.
For every booming community out there (think Stackoverflow, Reddit, Amex OpenForum, etc), there was a community manager or more likely a team devoted to busting their asses to build the community from the ground up.
That comes from connecting with early users, seeding content and trying to get new users on board. It’s hard, often times lonely, work.
Like what community builder, Rich Millington said, great community managers are connecting with upwards of 40 people a day. That’s how you build a truly scalable and successful community.
If you are a community manager, are you doing that consistently? If you manage a CM, is your employee doing that? My guess is probably not. I know I’m not there- at least yet.
A truly great community manager is busting their asses day in and day out. Working tirelessly to build relationships with others inside and outside their community.
It’s also about being willing to seed and participate in the conversation in your community even when no one else is.
Let’s not forget. While still doing all of this, you still need to find ways to validate and measure everything that you are doing to give back to key stakeholders in the business. After all, if you can’t measure it, you cannot manage it.
It can take years to see the real fruits of your labor. The bottom line is it can take years to see a community flourish, and it isn’t even guaranteed to in the end.