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10 Tips For Being The Best Community Manager On The Block
in honor of community manager appreciation day

It feels so good each year to have a day dedicated to how awesome my job is! I've been doing online community management (officially) for 7 years, and I've had the honor of working alongside some of the most amazing community-centric teams (startups, private sector, non-profits, corporate). I've learned a lot, and look forward to the evolution of this role as the web expands and contracts. Today Google Voice CM +Matt Bariletti and I teamed up with +Carter Gibson and +My Community Manager  to share our knowledge and insights to help you become a (better) Community Manager. Here are some of my synthesized CM'isms to fuel your fire:

1) Finesse the Response - What you say is as important as how you say it. A heap of helpfulness with a side of empathy.

2) Know Thy Self - Your role is an expression of your true nature and identity. You can't fake it these days. There's that thing called Google Search.

3) Blow Your Mind - Get into the mindframe of your users. Users aren't just English speaking in North America - try your product in a different language, on a feature phone. You just might learn you have work to do.

4) Build Up Others - Help people use your platform to become better people, not just a product usage number.

5) Actively Listen - Have a flexible mind for what can be instead of what you think there is. Drop the bias, the stories, and focus in on the underlying user need.

6) Take Risks - Go meet your cross-functional teams. Propose BIG ideas, and don't fear having a voice. You ARE an expert in something too.

7) Authentic Authenticity - Be truly passionate about your work. Don't work for money or ego. Put your heart behind the wheel and step on the gas.

8) Nourish Yourself to Nourish Them - Take time to take care of yourself so that when you approach that annoying situation you'll be balanced and blissed, instead of pissed off or miffed.

9) Your Toolset Isn't In Tech - Draw inspiration to serve people from all facets of life. Look to how other cultures and companies are tending to people's needs. For the desire to be taken care of and acknowledged is a universal need.

10) Start Where You Are - How can you drive impact and brighten people's lives right now, on the web, in real life, and how can you prove the success of it? Start there, do it lots. You just might save the world, and live to tell about it as a Community Manager. 

Live Tweets from +Sherrie Rohde (of +My Community Manager):

"Bring ingenuity to Community Management by immersing yourself in people-oriented subcultures in other industries." - Natalie

"Recognize that as a Community Manager, your job is never-ending. Figure out how to structure your day." - Matt 

"The more balanced I can be, more perspective I can get, more nourished I am, the more I can serve my community." - Natalie

"Know your product. You need to be fully immersed in order to best help your community." - Matt

"Being able to step away from your community is as important as stepping into your community."  - Natalie

#CMAD   #nowthisiscommunity  
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29 comments
 
This was one of the most useful and interesting Hangouts that I've seen.
 
Thanks for everything, +Natalie Villalobos. I know we all give you a hard time sometimes but you handle it with grace and aplomb. :)
 
In all seriousness though, this post and the hangout helped a lot. Thank you Natalie and thank you +Matt Bariletti for your infinite wisdom. ;)
 
Or should I say thanks big sis and older bro?
 
I don't even know you guys personally...but you are so awesome. this was a great Hangout thanks for sharing!!!!
 
This is seriously amazing. Thanks for the cliff notes +Natalie Villalobos! It was, as you know, excellent to have you and I'm stoked that so many people have found it useful!
 
Very cool. Great hangout and those tips are extremely useful in all aspects of life, not just CMing.
 
I think that "Be clear about your job" needs a space in there.  Almost all friction that I have seen between users and CMs  come from a belief that CMs are Ombudsmen or User-Advocates on one end, or Marketing-Flacks on the other, and while a CM's job does resemble these things in some respects, it is very different, a difference that is seldom explained to the general populous.
 
+John VanRoekel Well, the job can also be changed from quarter to quarter based on expectations and priorities. I think that what CMs can struggle with are metrics that help prove the worth of their role. Increasingly in data driven companies, qualitative is more difficult to prove that quantitative efforts. I think also having a team and manager that supports the role is key.
 
+Marc Belley I think so too. And that being said, my role extends beyond just tech - being a community-minded person is just who I am.
 
+Oremo Ochillo I certainly don't credit myself for that, but it was very new to the tech industry at that time as a formalized role. Even when I joined Google in 2009 they weren't sure how to explain what a CM is and the value. Makes me wonder what new roles will pop up in the tech industry that will be a mainstay in the future.
 
+Natalie Villalobos Well, it is a relatively new job in the scheme of things, which is why people are so quick to shove it into the molds of existing jobs (such as "Ombudsman") and are equally quick to be disappointed when it doesn't fit.
If it is rapidly changing, then it becomes even more important to keep the description up to date, so that people don't get annoyed when you (in their view) not only fail to be an Ombudsman (which was never your actual job) but also fail to be the CM who you were last quarter, which was once your job.  The fist expectation is unreasonable, but the second is not.
 
+John VanRoekel There could be a universal CM job description somewhere but I'm not sure where that would be located. Not sure who or what you mean by keeping that up to date. I don't think the core of the role changes each quarter, but there new priorities regularly - that's just business. I think displaying those changes with grace and without needing to express these changes is part of the finesse of being a good communicator.
 
+Natalie Villalobos Ah, but when someone says that they are a "Teacher" or a "Tax accountant"or a "Physicist" we all have enough of an archetype built up in our heads that we can understand what their job is with 90% accuracy.  So our expectations are generally in-line with the reality of what they do, and we don't get annoyed with the teacher when they don't do our taxes for us.
Because CM is a relatively new and specialized roll, the average customer does not have such an archetype, so they shove you into a preexisting one, and get annoyed when you don't fit.  I just think that it may be in your/googles best interest to establish that expectation.

(Edit for typo)
 
+John VanRoekel I don't know if we could do that generally, but it's an interesting idea. I mean, most people understand that I'm a community-minded person for Google, and for Google+, so most people just ended up asking me for just about everything and then I support them where I can. I think simply put, I'm a connecter between the community of a product and the people building the product. Whatever that connection may need to be.
 
+Natalie Villalobos
It would need to have the business-speak BS stripped out (not a criticism really, all business do that) but perhaps this:
https://www.google.com/about/jobs/search/#!t=jo&jid=33106&
would be a good start.  It is a link to the posting for +Sarah Price 's old job (amazing that hasn't been filled yet.) I would actually be curious if you would consider that to be an accurate description of what you guys do? 
Anyhow.  Something to think about.  Of course I'm not exactly sure where CMs would post a job description beyond the "about me" section of their g+ account, and that wouldn't really help those in the forums (although, being an ex forum-dweller myself, I suspect that they are beyond help) but still, something like that may help smooth some things over.

(edit to add "sure" to final paragraph (how the hell did that happen?))
 
+Natalie Villalobos I finally got around to watching this. You did a great job of conveying what the job is all about. It sounds like a wonderful job.
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