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10 commandments for community management

Posted by Danny Whatmough on 24th January 2012

Yesterday was community manager appreciation day and so, to celebrate, we thought we’d share some of our insights into what makes a good community manager.

We’ve been running a few training sessions for our clients on exactly this subject over the last few weeks and have developed a series of ’10 commandments for community management’.

This ties into our approach of trying to give our clients the tools and expertise to better engage with key stakeholders and holding their hands through the social media morass rather than just outsourcing it all.

So here are our list of 10 commandments:

Commandment 1 – Thou shalt not sell

If there is one thing that is guaranteed to turn off a community, it is overtly selling to them. The reason for joining your community will be different for different community members. But it is always better to build relationships by sharing valuable content rather than the sell, sell, sell approach which is likely to make them lose patience immediately.

Commandment 2 – Thou shalt respond quickly

We’ve all been there. You post something directed at a brand on Twitter or on their Facebook wall and they never respond. It’s infuriating and it massively affects your opinion of the company. Research we conducted last year found that many tech companies are failing to engage with their users on social media. This is also important for reputation management – if you don’t respond then negative comments can spiral out of control.

Commandment 3 – Thou shalt remember that the people have the power

Communities are built on people. This is a challenge for many companies. Most businesses aren’t used to speaking to people as people. They are used to corporate PR or marketing speak. But remember, you are at their mercy; this is their community and, ultimately, they are the ones that will determine what succeed or fails.

Commandment 4 –  Thou shalt be transparent

It’s one of the buzzwords du jour of the social media world, but transparency really does matter. It’s amazing how easy it is to tell when a brand or a brand representative isn’t being honest on social media. Our bullshit detectors have become more attuned in a social world. So be honest and don’t try and pull the wool over the eyes of your community. They’ll just leave.

Commandment 5 –  Thou shalt be yourself (and have fun!)

Again, as per commandment 3, if you remember that people are people then you’ll want to try and inject a bit of personality into the way you manage the community so that you come across as a normal person too and not some corporate robot.

Commandment 6 – Thou shalt be friendly and helpful

Remember how you would like to be treated. Yes sometimes on a community you have to moderate or lay down the law, but most of the time you are there to help out and move the conversation on. The way you approach this is important, so go above and beyond in your dealings with community members and never ignore problems, they’ll only escalate.

Commandment 7 – Thou shalt start conversations

Of course, you can only move conversations on if they are there in the first place. So one of your main jobs is to get people talking and stimulate conversation. Sharing interesting content and asking questions will make members feel valued.

Commandment 8 –  Thou shalt treat negative comments calmly

Negative comments are a key burden of any community manager’s life. But there are a number of tricks to remember when responding to negativity; respond quickly, keep it factual and stay calm!

Commandment 9 –  Thou shalt be the brand

Of course, when running social media PR on behalf of a brand, there is always a balance between being yourself or ‘humanlike’ and still representing the values and ethos of the brand.

Commandment 10 –  Thou shalt remember the process

Finally, it is important to first have processes in place so that everyone knows their roles and responsibilities (especially in communities or social media PR campaigns where there are a lot of community managers). The second key is to stick to them! Write them all down, come up with guidelines and share this with the full team so that everyone is singing from the same hymn-sheet.

Have you used community management as part of your social media PR campaign? Let us know in the comments.

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