The Community Manager Hat Never Comes Off: Discussing Challenges and Celebrating Wins

Posted on: March 12th, 2014 by Jamie MacLean

It is part of my morning routine now: brush my teeth, make a cup of coffee, and check Twitter. Check Facebook. Check LinkedIn. Has anyone tweeted us this morning? Commented on a post? What is everyone else talking about online today?

When I first joined Facebook in 2005, I never imagined that I would one day be monitoring tweets, status updates and blogs as part of my career in PR. But it’s certainly an important one; where someone’s talking about your brand, you want to be right there listening.

I’ve quickly learned that community management is more than just a quick check in the morning. Rather, scanning and monitoring is woven in throughout my day because, like traditional media monitoring, being ready to respond quickly is critical – whether that be to offer your brand’s expertise in a relevant topic, to acknowledge and reply to criticism, or even to graciously accept positive feedback. Because you never know: a chance like this may come along.

But it’s not every day that a funny interaction with a Grammy winner happens; it’s just as important to celebrate the small wins. There are many resources that discuss the low emphasis we should place on the volume of likes, retweets and followers we can get. I still, however, get a twinge of excitement (and yes, pride) when I see someone has liked a post or favourited a tweet – especially, of course, when it comes from someone within the brand’s target audience. Even better if they shared or retweeted. To me, the small signal that someone has seen the content and taken an extra step to engage with it, even if it is on a small level, still means something.
At Felicity, we’ve had fun starting new initiatives like gifting a coffee per week to thank a follower; it’s been thrilling to see someone be pleasantly surprised by the unexpected treat, or even being given a shout-out in #FF posts (I hope they think of it as a small win in return!). In such a vast online network, it still means a lot to make that one-on-one connection.

Alongside the positive interactions, there are certainly pressures. The biggie: how to respond to criticism. The usual principles of crisis communications typically apply – acknowledge quickly, show compassion, offer a solution – but I’ve also learned that sometimes it’s best to leave it alone. For example, there are situations where it may make sense not to interject in a conversation between two parties discussing your brand and who have not directed any comments your way. Even interrupting with “exceptional customer service” might be seen as being too pushy. In addition to considering these situations on a case-by-case basis, I remind myself to stay true to the brand voice through it all, and consider how every post, tweet and social media initiative reflects it.

The community manager hat is one that I find hard to take off. Sifting through content to share can easily suck me in for hours, as can searching for interesting people to follow. But being a community manager also means being part of a community, and seeing that strangers around the world can share in that experience makes the work more like fun.