At its best, an online community should challenge both its members and the community manager to grow as thinkers and explore new ideas. At Edelman Digital, we want members and managers to benefit by always introducing new perspectives to the ideation process.
Great community management is a little like improv: It draws on the community’s participation, keeps the conversation fresh, and “goes with the flow.” That’s the style I try to imitate.
Here are three ways community managers should imitate improv actors:
1. Always say “yes.”
In comedic improv, the best players always agree to new directions for the scene. They accept new perspectives and ideas, which keeps the conversation fresh and moving forward. Likewise, when a member of your community introduces a new perspective, run with it. You might be surprised by the interesting new directions the conversation can take.
2. Be generous.
Great improv players give generously to fellow players and the audience. There’s nothing worse than sharing an idea and seeing the audience reject or just lukewarmly accept it. Similarly, community managers should graciously encourage audience participation. Thank audience members for sharing their thoughts and opinions, ask questions, and offer your reflections on their ideas. You’ll inspire great conversation.
3. Commit to the audience.
As a community manager and improv player, you want audience members to connect with you and each other. In the digital world, it’s easy to detach from the conversation by never getting involved beyond the initial post.
You want audience members to know you’re interested in what they have to say, and that you have your own thoughts as well—you’re not just a brand mouthpiece. Commit to the community and participate, even when the conversation doesn’t specifically concern your brand. Audience members will keep talking to you in the long run.