As a social worker, my community manager style is based on strength-based interventions and client focused service delivery. Fancy social work lingo for trusting that your community has expertise on topics and starting the conversation on what your community wants to know, not what you want to get.
I work for a software company that wants to organize all the need-based programs in the world and put them in one easy online location. My tribe consists of families in crisis, social workers, and non-profiteers. My target audience is social workers. Here are 3 ways I have been able to engage a group that isn’t going to be on the cover of Tech Crunch anytime soon!
Take A Position
Most social workers chose their job(s) to make a difference in the world. The last person they want to hear from is a software community manager trying to hawk his wares. So when a social worker begins to talk about issues their facing as a professional I chime in and have a conversation. I have had conversations about technology and human services, self-care techniques, and race in America. Showing that I care about things outside of my company’s motives has helped to create high trust relationships.
Action Question: What is your brand passionate enough about to take a position on?
Ask Better Questions
Initially, I would bombard my tribe with questions like, “What is your favorite color” and send it out over all our social media channels. Besides the lack of response, these questions lacked engagement and specificity. Now, I ask specific targeted questions to groups and individuals!
Group Question: “How is your organization reacting to the recent poverty statistics?”
Specific Personal Question: “– I saw you post about homeless youth could you tell me more about that?”
Asking specific questions lets your community know that you are listening and find their voice to be valuable. Contrary to popular opinion, people are not on twitter to build brands. They are on twitter because they have something to say.
Create space for their voice and listen.
Action Question: Are there 3 community members you can ask a specific question that could add value to your community’s conversation?
Some of us have drunk the Kool-Aid that collaboration only means crowd-sourcing information, “What do you want our next blog post to be about?” or anything else that only meets your needs. Wrong. Collaboration means creating shared value. I’ll be honest: Aunt Bertha needs volunteers to help scale our website to serve all of the United States. No doubt. Yet, it is unrealistic to ask people who come to Twitter after serving all day long to input 300 programs. So, our collaboration looks different. It can be something as small as a blog post or a big project like when we collaborated with 3 stranger social workers on twitter to develop a SXSW panel. While we do ask folks if they know anyone that wants to volunteer, we also realize that we can create small interesting projects along the way with people who share our values.
Action Questions: What values do you share with your community?
How can you channel those values to create a project that won’t “directly” influence the bottom line, but that can establish trust and mutual respect