#1. Set clear guidelines
Start with a set of guidelines for your community whether that’s on a Facebook page or in a group. If you’re managing a community on Twitter or Instagram then post the guidelines on your website and keep a copy of the link to them handy.
Use the About Us section on your business page to include the key rules of how you run your page, for example, that you reserve the right to remove any posts that are not nice to others etc.
If you have a private facebook group then pin a post and put some rules into the description too, to make it clear what the rules of being in the community are.
This makes it much easier to manage the group or page if you have something you can refer people to if required. It saves you hassle when you’re in the middle of dealing with things.
Tip: Being able to direct people to a link on your website or your About page or pinned post where they can read your community guidelines is quick and less painless all around for everybody.
#2. Monitor Daily
We monitor our social media channels every day (yes every day!) to check comments. We look to see if
- the comment is a question in which case we reply, or
- it is a positive comment, we can like the comment and reply if we wish, or
- it is a negative comment we can decide how to reply based on our social risk policy.
- Social media is completely two way and if someone takes the time to make a comment then that person deserves a response.
Tip: Anticipate any common questions and have content ready to link to if those questions get asked. Create how to guides or FAQ articles that you can pull out and share if required.
#3. Thank your community regularly
If you see people sharing your content or tagging others or commenting then thank them for sharing. It’s a simple thing to do but it does make people feel that they are dealing with a personal rather than corporate organisation, and it makes them more likely to continue sharing too.
If you ask them for feedback or crowdsource for content or product or market research, it’s nice to go back later and show them the results and how you took their feedback or input on board.
Tip: keep a note of the link/tweet/post whenever you ask for feedback or input so you can go back later to link/tweet/comment again.
#4. Handling negative feedback
As you have already put your external policy up on your guidelines (see #1) the next thing is to decide on your internal policy for
- how you are going to run the community
- when you remove comments and members
- who will help respond to any negative feedback – the community manager or facebook admin may be typing the response back but someone in the organisation needs to help formulate the response.
Be firm but polite if responding. After all it’s your community, you are the one investing the time in it. Respond with a clear explanation if required and ask them to contact you via private message or to an email to take it out of the community. You want to do this for two reasons:
- you need to be aware of data protection and discussing someone’s particular case may be starting to impinge on their data protection rights.
- you want to take the conversation out of the community setting so you can handle it privately instead of publicly. If they come back again with another angry response then politely repeat the request to private message or email and reassure them that someone will be on hand to respond straight away to try to get their problem resolved.
Remember that you can never keep all of the people happy all of the time anyway. In my experience, people appreciate a firm approach more than a wishy washy one. It lets them know where they stand.
And ban or block if they get abusive, nobody needs that.
Tip: one from Ted Rubin – listen to the critics, ignore the haters
#5. Have your content plan in place
As with any social activity, have your community content plan in place that includes a good strong mix of targeted content with
- engagement pieces
- content that aids or solves a problem
- content that inspires them
- and if you can organise sharing video content, all the better.
Tip: Plan out at least one month of content in advance, it makes it much easier to manage the community
#6. Inspire your community
Yes of course you should absolutely aim to help your community with content that solves pain points but don’t forget to inspire them too.
That could be a quote that resonates with them or something that makes them feel good or something that helps them move towards their goals. When you see that you get traction with a certain type of inspiring content, give them more 🙂
#7. Be disciplined about your time
Unless this is your full time job and you are only doing community management, structure the time you spend on community management within your schedule and be disciplined about it. After all we all know social media can be a complete time suck. So find a groove with selected times that you log on and check on the community to avoid dwelling too long.
Tip: Use a timer if you are finding you are getting sucked in and stop when it goes off. Respond to the most urgent comments first so you get to them in your allocated time.
#8. Encourage the community
Ideally you want to encourage your community to participate more and more so that over time it becomes a true community rather than you engineering it.
If you are running a facebook page then work gradually towards where you can ask them to give you ideas and feedback on your posts.
If you are on Twitter, always reply to tweets that tag you and thank people for sharing your content.
If you have a private Facebook group encourage members to help each other.
Tip: Asking people to help each other is a very effective mechanism e.g. “Julie is asking such and such does anyone have any ideas to help?”
#9. Identify your biggest advocates
Find those most engaged community members and top influencers, and ask them if they’d like to do a guest blog, or if they write content ask if you can share one of their recent posts, or consider offering them a position as a community moderator or admin.
You will always have those top performers in your community so think how you can reward them to become even more passionate on your behalf.
Tip: Fan of the Month seems to have gone out of favour on social media but I still think there are legs in it!
#10. Remember you represent your brand
If your Twitter bio includes your company or you are on the bio of your company page or Twitter profile or if you are admin of a private facebook group, people will see you as a community manager and as such, you represent your organisation.
Tip: Just being aware of this may temper any temptation you have to go on a rant on your personal social media.
Over to you now – what’s your experience of managing a community? Tell me in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you.