6 tips every community manager must know

Two community managers share their best advice.

Any community manager will tell you how important it is to stay on top of everything related to your brand. They are responsible for many moving pieces and must react quickly to feedback to stay engaged and avoid negative repercussions.

At a recent Social Media Breakfast in Minneapolis, Lisa Grimm, digital brand manager at Mall of America, and Meg Knodl, communications and community engagement librarian at Hennepin County Library, spoke about their experiences as community managers.

Here are six essential tips for community managers from Grimm and Knodl:

1. Know your strategy.

Community management has become a large part of social strategy. A successful community manager ensures that the social media strategy aligns with business objectives, and that the proper tools are in place to measure goals and objectives. A clearly defined social media strategy can provide guidance on how to encourage interaction, and a plan to provide your followers with relevant content.

2. Remember that you represent the brand.

It’s important to always have your brand in mind when you post content or interact online. Don’t share information that can negatively affect people’s perception of your brand. There is a time and a place for sharing personal opinions and, as community managers, both Grimm and Knodl recommend thinking about who you represent and how your actions affect that entity.

3. React carefully.

There is only so much planning that can go into your reaction to a serious situation. A proper way to react is to be as factual and respectful of the online community as possible. Also, wait for the community to come to you before you reach out. Otherwise you may start conversations and panic around things that people weren’t aware of before you brought it up.

4. Determine which sites are right for your brand.

In order to effectively connect with an audience, a community manager should create an in-depth analysis of which sites the target audience spends the most time on, how its members interact, and what type of communication it is the most receptive to.

Knodl gave a great example when she spoke about her company’s previous use of MySpace. In the beginning it was a great tool for interacting, but, “you reach that moment where you have to decide if it’s time to leave a community.”

5. Don’t have too many cooks in the kitchen.

Should your company’s social media strategy have multiple contributors or one consistent voice? Grimm and Knodl recommend that you use a consistent voice. But is that possible?

Mall of America makes sure that all users tweeting on behalf of the company put their initials after their tweets so followers can identify them.

6. Choose your brand over your community.

When you must choose between your brand and your community, you must always side with your brand. Your company hired you to be its voice online; it is the company’s interests you are there to protect. Knodl also stressed the importance of believing in what you represent in order to effectively promote it.

Community management can be a tough job that requires constant and immediate attention. What are some of the hurdles you’ve faced as a community manager or social media strategist?

Ashley Zeckman is the marketing manager for TopRank Online Marketing where a version of this post originally ran. TopRank is a Minnesota-based digital marketing agency serving Fortune 1000 companies with customer acquisition and engagement services including strategic consulting, implementation and training, search engine marketing, social media, and content marketing.

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