#Cmgrchat – 9/14: Are You Smothering Your Community?

When managing a community, how do you know how involved to be?   When do you jump in or stay out?  How do you know who are your most influential users?  Even the most experienced of community managers will tell you that it’s all how well you know your community and that there is a certain finesse and timing that goes along with it all.  See for yourself…

Q1. When do you enter a conversation as the community manager on any of your pages/accounts?

theTsaritsa I enter the conversation when a question is asked, or when there is confusion that needs to be cleared up

ATT_Jam I like to give my community 24 hours to respond before I do but will respond sooner if the issue is severe enough.

40deuce Anytime I feel like it’s a good time to. Could be answering questions, could be just chatting

40deuce  I do it everywhere, not just on Twitter. Even in real life. I just jump into people’s conversations

AdamBritten Whenever the community can’t answer questions themselves, & at random times to keep things interesting

rhogroupee only when I see things about to off the rails or for random fun

ASQ_Trish usually let the community answer – will pop when needed

KellyLux Enter when you have something of value to add: an answer to a Q, a tip for a customer, etc

Myll_Erik Whenever I can – I think it builds a better community to be active and interact with the fans/community.

Q2. When do you back off and let the community members handle things, bring up ideas?

celivingston Reminds me of the proverb “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

jefro_net I nearly always let the community work things out first, and only step in if they can’t

rhogroupee I try to give them breathing room esp when it comes to ideas about the cmty

lttlewys  Alwys let the community lead, CM should just guide, provide bridge between company, be part of Community, not control it

Jen_Cook Being heavy-handed usually fosters resentment in the community. There is a balance.

KellyLux when there are negative comments on the same topic, there will usually be champions who come forward…if you give it a minute

40deuce Really depends on your community. Some ppl have super active communities, others just to connect every once and a while

dbrunt depends on the level of engagement and amount of UGC. In a budding cmty, more topics might need to be started by CM

corecorina  much of being good @ community mgmt involves the ability to influence w/ a light touch, become a muse, inspire activity in others!

Q3. How & when do you set up an influencer/power user program?

primesuspect That kind of thing should be written into the community plan from the very beginning.

ericfoster “Power users” can wreck communities if implemented too early OR too late. The CM has to know the community inside and out

PaulSevcik I think that depends on the size and ‘maturity’ of the community. I doubt there is a magic #tippingpoint

celivingston As soon as you start to notice names/users popping up frequently. Don’t seek them out, let them emerge

corecorina  Identifying power users and key influencers in your community has HUGE benefits; identify, incentivize, mobilize ASAP.

ATT_Jam  Immediately. Superusers will rise to the top. Create private boards for them, develop guidelines for identifying them

rodicka  As soon as you decide how to determine a power user, are to distinguish who they are, & able to set up a sustainable program

DavidSpinks Be careful, too many “incentives” to become a power user can diminish the natural relationship that you have with power users

djfanco Cream rises to the top. Recruit the level-headed, dedicated when they show loyalty and maturity. Nurture privately, prune

primesuspect One of our policies has always been: If someone ASKS to be a power user, they’re not right for the job

DavidSpinks Think about your goals with a power user program too. You can’t “ask” for too much, or you’ll burn them out.

DavidSpinks Doing nice things for P users should be because you genuinely appreciate their support… not because you want to force activity

DavidSpinks Want a power user strategy? Call 5 users every day and get to know who they are. THEN think about a program.

Q4. What’s the best way to empower your community, get everyone involved?

primesuspect I believe the key is to provide a road map for members that show them HOW to become engaged community members

theTsaritsa Empower your community by showing them that their contributions matter! Use their suggestions!

ATT_Jam Resist the urge to quell “negative” conversations. They will provide a wealth of information you can use to make things better

mbhahn the best way to empower is to listen to what they have to say and let them tell you what needs to be done #cmgrchat maybe you will act

lttlewys Community will be involved with a company that cares about them, listens to them, positive & negative!! All about custome

Historian Feed their egos. Nothing gets people motivated like taking notice of their efforts.

terakristen Ask them questions about things that you genuinely need their opinion on – everyone loves to help

DavidSpinks Lots of options. Privileges within the product. Exclusive events. Sharing their stories on your site

DavidSpinks  Show them how their feedback is being applied to your product.

vargasl Reinforce posiive behavior online and offline.

ATT_Jam Be as personal as possible. Community members don’t want to talk to a corporate mouthpiece.

40deuce Not every community requires constant involvement though. Important to remember that or else you may drive people away

celivingston Admit a screw-up if you make one. RT @shankell: be a humble CM. You dont know everything, play nice in the sandbox.

Q5. Is the ultimate goal of a community manager to render themselves useless?

jefro_net No way. A ship always needs a rudder to stay on course

evanhamilton  Yes yes yes. The community manager should be building an org and community that helps each other

dshanahan Meh, not sure rendering useless is the goal. Communities need people who care enough to keep improving

vargasl Your role should evolve with the maturity of internal and external community – never a dull moment or useless.

celivingston A5. No. You’ll always need to guide. And what about coming up with new ideas? Trying new things? Don’t get complacent

ATT_Jam No. CM’s serve as a funnel for information from business/org to community and from community to business/org

primesuspect No. A community is not self-sustaining. Even if no “official” CM exists, a natural one (or group) will appear

evanhamilton I don’t think it’s easy, but wouldn’t it be better if everyone in your company/community helped/supported each other?

evanhamilton Zappos doesn’t have a primary #cmgr – the whole org is focused on happy, empowered customers. That’s a great goal

djfanco Yes. Teach and model correct principles. If they govern themselves well, you have more time to champion product innovation

40deuce  NO! You can be needed less and less, but there’s always a need as long as there’s a community

ericfoster Ultimately I want to be a lurker and let the content drive the conversation. Lurking until I’m needed of course!

vargasl Much more to our job than engagement…writing and internal wrangling will always be a responsibility

corecorina  there’s no such thing as a community that can’t benefit from a manager. Always new opportunities to connect, grow the comm!

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About the author

Jenn Pedde

Jenn is a Co-Founder of The Community Manager and the Editor-In-Chief. She’s also an adjunct professor at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies. You can find her almost anywhere online, but specifically on #CmgrChat every Wednesday from 2-3pm ET.