What you should know about Community Management #CMAD  

Today is Community Manager Appreciation Day! In its honor, I've listed out key takeaways I've learned after doing this for a few years. In fact, my blogging here on Google+ is what jumpstarted my career in this. So without further ado, here's what I think everyone should know about community management.

We're all about retention and loyalty.
The simplest way I've found to describe a community manager is this: product marketing acquires users, community managers create programs to build loyalty and retain them. We're the ones who identify advocates and empower users to create compelling experiences. 

We don't "create" community.
Instead, we create compelling experiences to engage the existing community to build its own community. We can create platforms, content, and events and such, but we don't have some secret spell to make a community appear (user acquisition has a concoction for that though). The most successful communities are organic and we're always looking for opportunities to assist passionate people. We're constantly on the prowl to help enable awesome happenings.

We are a user's advocate.
We're the voice of the company to the community, and the voice of the community to the company. We gather feedback to impact product roadmaps. We communicate product changes or enhancements to the community. We sit in a lot of meetings saying, "The community thinks it should work this way. Can we make that happen?" 

Sometimes it's difficult.
In the same way customer service agents may feel like their hands are tied because of company policy, community managers sometimes act as anger-sponges. If a change has to happen that's unpopular, we need to find a way to compromise with our community. We can't change everything and we have to find creative ways to handle situations both with the community and the company. In the end, we're also the company's advocate. We have to strike the sweet spot that shows advocating for the customer is actually advocating for the company.

Community managers do a little bit of everything.
From event planning to social media management to analytics to PR, we work with many departments in our job. Though we typically fall under marketing, a CM needs to be able to handle a lot at a time. We're used to being constantly interrupted.

If something happens, we're there to take care of it.
No matter if it's 2am or 7pm, if something goes wrong, we're the front lines. The best thing to do during a crisis is to retain loyalty and that's what we aim to do. That person replying to your tweet on a Sunday? Us. :)

Our job can be hard to quantify.
Sentiment is a tough thing to track as a direct correlation to revenue. Our reports generally say something along the lines of, "This is going well... The community feels that... We suggest...." Instead we tend look at successes and how many people are engaged. It's all about brand affinity and longterm wins. Someone who doesn't pay us now is more likely to in the future if they're engaged and like us (or at least tell a friend). 

We are not customer support agents.
This is a biggie. While we're always willing to help out, there are other people employed who do a much better job telling you how to trouble shoot an issue. It's important that we work with our CS counterpart to see if there's something new or what issues are driving ticket volume, but technical questions are best directed to them. 

Our job is literally to make you happy.
In the end, we're constantly looking for ways outside of the actual product to enhance users' experience. Our initiatives typically can't incur massive amounts of technical debt from development teams, but we can find innovative ways to use the product and its culture to your advantage. Damage control happens in our day-to-day, but I think it's safe to say that we're most fulfilled when users are happy. How to do that is different at every company, but when users are happy, we're happy.

Hopefully that was helpful! I've received sage advice from a number of amazing community managers over the years, like +Natalie Villalobos, +Evan Hamilton, +Tim McDonald, +Sherrie Rohde, +Ally Greer, and so many more that I'm forgetting right now. I appreciate all of them. This is an incredible job that is truly a little ahead of its time. If anyone has any questions about community management or how to start in it, let me know! I'm happy to help.

Happy Community Manager Appreciation Day!

Below is my team at KIXEYE. They rule. 
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