5 mistakes every community manager makes

Reflecting on her first year in the job, a CM spills the beans on errors she made and what she will do in the future to avoid them.

I took our community manager, Jade, out for a sushi lunch to gain some insight into what she’s doing wrong.

It’s not because I don’t love Jade (I do, as anyone in our office will be happy to tell you), and it’s not because she doesn’t do an excellent job managing our social media community.

It’s because she just had her first anniversary here at Simply Measured, and we’ve been chatting about what she wished she’d known when she started out as our community manager—the mistakes she’s made along the way, what she’s learned, and how she’s gotten where is she is today.

Hopefully, her openness about the most common mistakes she’s made will help you avoid these very same pitfalls as you manage the social media sphere for your own brand.

1. Trying to be everywhere at once

Digging into her salad, Jade tells me the big no-no is trying to be everywhere at once.

“Your brand doesn’t have to be on every single social network. In fact, it probably shouldn’t be. Bigger brands have more robust social strategies, but it’s still unlikely that every single one of their social communities is healthy and thriving. The networks where you see very little engagement, growth, and conversation occurring are usually a waste of effort.”

What to do then?

“There’s no point in spending time and resources on a network that’s a ghost town for you,” she tells me, stealing a piece of my tuna roll. “Don’t jump ship, just allocate the appropriate amount of effort to each network and make sure it’s worth it.”

2. Agonizing over follower count

When I ask Jade what she worried too much about at the beginning, she immediately mentions follower count.

“5000…5001…5002…5003… Stop! Agonizing over how many followers your channels have will drive you crazy.”

Jade acknowledges that follower count is obviously important, but she has some major caveats: “Especially when you’re just starting out, follower count is not the best metric to measure your communities by. In my opinion, quality over quantity—always. There are tons of other metrics you should be paying attention to that will actually shed more light on how healthy your community is—engagement, engagement as percentage of followers, reach, impressions, etc. Creating a healthy community comes first.”

What does she model this theory after? The voice that spoke to Kevin Costner’s character in “Field of Dreams”: “If you build it, they will come.

3. Forcing it

As she asks me whether I’m ready to order dessert, she mentions this as the biggest threat to community, sanity, and time.

“As marketers, we’re not going to get it right every time. Sometimes certain pieces of content or campaigns just don’t resonate with your audience—it happens. You should absolutely be thorough before you pull the plug, but don’t try too hard. If a piece of content isn’t performing, despite all your best efforts, don’t continue to pump it. Let it go.”

But what if I really love and see the value in the piece of content I’m trying to spread out there?

Jade shakes her head disapprovingly. (I can’t tell if it’s because I don’t want to order the lava cake or because I’m not getting her point yet.)

“Continuing to promote a piece of content that your audience ultimately doesn’t care about is not only a time-waster; it’s bad for your reputation in the community. Be agile, learn from your mistakes, move on, and save yourself some time going forward.”

4. Trying to please everybody

Jade recently wrote a great post for us: A Quick Guide To Handling Negative Feedback On Social Media. She references the post as she talks about the mistake many of us make in both our professional and personal lives—trying to be make everyone happy all the time.

“People are always going to have issues on social, some of them warranted, some of them not. As a CM, you should always try to right a wrong. But, at times, there is simply nothing more that you can do. Don’t try and please everyone; it won’t work. Dealing with unreasonable people or trolls will waste a ton of your time and deplete your sanity levels. Do your best to fix the problem, apologize, learn, and then move along.”

5. Doing it all yourself

In her tenure as our community manager, Jade has learned not to be a DIY kind of gal. This becomes abundantly clear to me when she insists we run about five errands on the way back to the office.

“When I first started out as CM, I was hesitant to ask for help. I would promote our content, people would engage with it, click through, and download. That’s what I’m supposed to do—right?

“Well, what I didn’t realize was that I was wasting time hitting the same people over and over again. Once I started working with influencers, they would give our pieces of content sometimes two times, five times, 10 times the reach. Not only that, but it also attracted new followers and people who were previously unfamiliar with our brand.

“When it comes to circulating content, don’t be afraid to ask for help. This will not only get your brand’s name out there; it will also save you a ton of time you would’ve spent trying to hit that kind of reach.”

Lucy Hitz is the social media content writer at Simply Measured, where a version of this article first appeared.


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