Community Managers maintain, foster and grow online communities—or at least they’re supposed to. They may also be called moderators and (depending on the community), may or may not get paid. If you actually own an online community, remember that sometimes you get what you pay for. While there are certainly fantastic free community managers (as well as shoddy ones that get paid), mistakes will be made. Here is some of the most common community manager fails, how they could have been avoided, and what you can learn from them:
Getting Personally Invested
The Internet is a rough placed filled with baiters, trolls, and flame wars. As a community manager, you can’t get pulled into the middle of virtual brawls. While it’s human nature to get your buttons pushed, a manager (any kind of manager) needs to rise above it. The moment a crack in the managerial armor is spotted it’s all over. Community managers need to have thick skins and professionalism for days.
Not Abiding by the Site Owner’s Rules
Codes of conduct, rules, and agreements are part of an online community for a reason. It’s the job of the community manager to ensure that everyone (including themselves) abides by it. These can be easy to forget even though it seems really simple. Site owners should include a review in regular training sessions—aim for at least one per quarter and preferably once a month. Continuous training is paramount for any business’ success.
Failure to Protect
Just like the police, community managers are there to serve and protect the greater good. While some businesses (like Amazon) are notorious for purposefully bad reviews, those reviews aren’t meant to get out of hand. A Community Manager knows the difference between being playful and being abusive. If they can’t protect the masses from out of control comments, they have no business being a Community Manager.
They Give Out Personal Information
Depending on the type of community you have, your community managers may or may not offer their full name. There are also some communities where the general region where a person lives is public information. However, behind the screen anonymity can cause people to let their guard down. If your community managers share too much, they might be putting their own safety at risk—not to mention serving as a poor example to the community.
They’re a Little Too Loose With the Virtual Environment
Telecommuting and virtual office environments are par for the course with many startups. As an entrepreneur, you want to lower overhead, save money, and boost employee happiness whenever possible. It’s rare that a community manager “needs” to come into an office every day. However, if they don’t have the commitment and personality to give everything while working from the couch, your business is going to suffer.
Their Writing Skills Need Serious Work
Web content writing can mean many things, and it includes the ability to professionally engage with your community site. A community manager needs to have flawless management and web content writing skills. If they don’t, it is your business that looks mediocre. Give a simple writing test when hiring a community manager.
There is a difference between not being able to write and not having the kind of writing style you want. Whether they pepper in emojis generously, like to use hashtags a little too much, or text speak out of habit, that’s not a professional approach. Hire someone with serious skills.
Being a community manager can sometimes seem like a thankless task—which is why they should be paid just like any other employee. As a business owner, you can’t leave your online communities unmanaged, but that doesn’t mean you should halfheartedly take care of it. Focus on quality and hiring for the right job, just like you do with every other position.
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