The 3 Truths of Good Community Managers

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In July of 2009, I started as the Director of Community at Blue Sky Factory, an email service provider. Over the past 13+ months, I’ve come to realize that it’s not enough to just be there. Of course, it’s important to listen, engage, connect, and build relationships. Yes, it’s critical that you have a product or service that doesn’t suck. All of that matters. However, you must have knowledge of your industry. You must respond to both the good and the bad. You must be helpful. These are the 3 truths that I have come to believe you must have to be successful as a community manager for a brand.

1. Be Knowledgeable About Your Industry

Unless your job is to strictly triage, you must have a good working knowledge of your industry. Chris Moody blogged about this point recently (see #3). Not only does this reflect positively on you and your company, it can also build credibility and lead to new business. This is one of the reasons I blog at Blue Sky Factory. I point folks to it all the time (like I’m doing now) in order to show that we are knowledgeable about email marketing. A large portion of our new leads are a direct result of the blog as well as other social media efforts.

2. Respond To The Good And The Bad

Depending on the size of your organization and the love/hate relationship people have with your company, your entire day can be spent responding to blog posts, tweets, forum comments, and Facebook updates. I can’t underscore this point enough. It’s critical to respond. Sometimes it’s a simple “thank you” while other times it’s more complex & time consuming (detailed reply); however, you must respond. Are there situations when walking away makes sense? Sure, but I think that more often then not, a response is best.

3. Be Helpful

This is one of my favorites, yet one that gets dropped often. Helping others – even those that don’t impact your top line directly – will pay huge dividends. You must have patience, but more often than not, helpfulness will come back to you in a positive way. Being helpful doesn’t always mean having the answer, but knowing who to ask for it. Being helpful doesn’t always mean pointing someone to your company either. Sometimes a competitor may be a better fit. Being helpful doesn’t mean answer questions exclusively in your industry. So remember, it’s important to listen, engage, connect, build relationships and be there in social media; however, it’s not enough. You also need a solid product, have sound industry knowledge, respond to the good and bad, and be helpful.
Do you have any examples of companies doing all 3 of the above effectively? What else would you add?
Flickr (CC): takomabibelot DJ Waldow Director of Community, Blue Sky Factory @djwaldow]]>

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