Growing up, I was a huge basketball fan. Despite being slightly vertically challenged, I had a sweet spot on the court where I knew I could sync a jump shot regardless of pressure. I was in the zone, and knew no matter what obstacles were thrown around me I could focus and make the shot.
So, what does this have to do with community management? 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. This requires a delicate balancing act advocating for both the company and the customer. The sweet spot is when you are in your zone comfortably balancing your customers’ feedback with the company’s core business needs.
As a community manager, you are representing the voice of the company. It’s magical and smooth sailing when both the company’s vision and customers’ feedback are perfectly aligned. This is something you should strive for always, but you will be tested from time to time when obstacles will get thrown on your court. For example, there will be times the company has to make a change that will upset some customers. The key is to communicate that news in a transparent, authentic way. While community members might not like it, they will be more likely to understand and stay around especially if you are actively acknowledging and replying to their feedback.
One of the best examples of this applies to customer support communities when the company decides to make pricing changes. Pricing changes are always a dicey area, but often needed so businesses can evolve. Your customers are probably not going to like it and will say things about it online. How you handle and respond to it can make a huge impact. Take for example, Groove HQ and Netflix. Both companies have made big pricing changes, and in Groove’s case it meant changing the business model. And, Groove’s dedication and desire to be real and honest with their customers (using their amazing blog as a focal point) ended up being a massive brand win. Netflix, on the other hand, suffered massive fall-out and negativity.
These are just two of so many examples out there. The branded communities that can merge the best of both realms are going to be the ones that will prosper for years and years to come.
What are your thoughts? How do you find your sweet spot as a community manager? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.