With a little reading online, you might think that running a successful online community—the kind that skyrockets customer retention and helps long-term sales—is the easiest thing in the world. A guaranteed overnight success!
What you don’t see are the blood, sweat, tears, and countless hours of sustained effort that go into community management. So if you’re thinking about launching a community, or you’ve already started and are looking for some advice on staying afloat, you’re in the right place.
Let’s take a look at how you can stay on top of everything, but also what it takes to excel in community management.
How to stay organized and free up your time
As community manager you will have a very full plate, all the time; some arrangement of lists, calendars, notebooks, Kanban boards, or spreadsheets will be your best friend. You’ll need to juggle member interactions, requests, discussion ideas, events, complaints, technical problems…the list goes on. And if you put the work in, this is an awesome and rewarding job.
With that said, here are a few ideas that might help streamline your day.
Invest in an all-in-one social media tool
These come in many shapes and sizes, but the gist is that you can see comments and private messages in a single, organised dashboard—and organize & reply to them in the same space. Whether your community is spread over several social media platforms or rests in a closed community, having a well-designed space for handling messages is crucial.
While you might use automated responses for extremely common enquiries (directing users to specific threads or an FAQs section, for example) auto-moderation is most powerful for handling trolls and aggressive members. You can either make them invisible (so no one sees their posts) or censor profane/potentially offensive language, depending on the rules and ethos of your community. Using auto-moderation to tackle these steps can save you a lot of headaches.
Reporting and analytics
Until your community becomes large and unwieldy, this can be super simple. A few metrics on engagement, how many new discussions/tickets are being generated, new member and churn rates, that sort of thing. No need to fixate on these early doors, but it’s definitely something to keep an eye on.
Hitting the ground running as community manager
It takes a long time for most community members to independently suggest topics or strike up conversations. As the community manager, you are the focal point. You need to…
- Keep turning up with interesting, relevant, and occasionally polarizing topics
- Tactfully poke, nudge, and name-call specific members to get their opinion
- Give thoughtful and balanced responses (without rising to trolls!)
- Be a hub of positive energy within the group
If you’re part of a larger team, you can get them involved too. For example, you might have Head of Sales announce an AMA where people can really pick the brain of someone inside the company.
Find a way to host useful and enjoyable video chats
Many online communities promote webinars as a matter of course. The logic? Webinars = people = interest in product = sales. But what you should really strive for is: webinars = chance to engage members = positive experience = increased community value.
Spend some time figuring out what your members want to learn about or discuss, then gear webinars (or ‘conferences’ or ‘community calls’—whatever you call them) around these topics. As a rule of thumb, the more fun and engaging these are, the more people will love attending and see value in the community—even if they don’t especially learn anything.
Probably the biggest pull, however, is sharing knowledge. Whether it’s you, an executive, a special guest… the allure of new, fresh, valuable knowledge with personality as well is gold dust for communities and makes your life as a community manager much easier.
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