Responsible for talking directly to your customers online, Community Managers are at the epicenter of your social strategy. We sat down with two Fanscape staffers, James Cobo and Charles Ryan, to talk about community management; guiding principles, challenges and evaluating a successful community.
Fanscape: How would you define Community Management?
James Cobo: Community management can take many forms – social property management, managing a profile on a high-value message board, etc. – but ultimately it all comes down to acting as a liaison between a client and the social sphere they’re looking to reach.
Charles Ryan: I would define community management as the being the voice/mediator/ultimate champion of the brand and its fans all rolled into one. Not only does one have a role in developing the fan base and meeting a company’s goals of fan count, participation, and exposure; but to also foster a community that is excited to be there and organically grow.
Fanscape: What are your guiding principles in great community management?
JC: Always try to side with the community; while client advocacy is obviously the “job” part of community management, the only way to reach people in the social space is to come from the same point of view as them, and with very few exceptions they’re always going to put their own interests ahead of the client’s. In that same vein, always try to contribute to the community when communicating with them; do your best to add to the dialogue rather than simply dropping in the client’s messaging and moving on to the next one.
CR: There are five I live by:
- Great customer service – prompt, compassionate, and ready to follow up
- Loyalty – stay true to the brand’s principles
- Taking chances – reach out to fans/customers who have shown their love for the brand
- Consistency – in communication schedule and messaging
- Growth – an interest in growing the community, both population-wise and interactivity
Fanscape: With regard to Community Management, what are some of the things that you do on behalf of our clients?
JC: The primary job duties associated with community management include researching & evaluating communities to identify which ones are most relevant to the client’s goals, then establishing & maintaining a presence on those communities.
Fanscape: What are some of the biggest challenges community managers face?
JC: The primary practical challenge community managers face on a daily basis is easily having to conform to the predefined standards of the community you’re reaching out to. Some communities are aggressively moderated and will edit or delete a post with even the slightest hint of messaging regardless of relevance. Others have stringent rules governing access to board functionality such as quoting other users, hyperlinking, and even permission to post in the first place.
Can you reference other companies and brands that do a great job with community management (based on your principals of great community management)?
JC: At Sony PlayStation they not only seek out ways to engage the community they’ve fostered around their brand on multiple platforms (their Facebook page, their regular blog updates, their Twitter handle, etc.), but they even introduce new ways to take advantage of the type of communication they see from their audience. Playstation.blog.share, for instance, is an initiative they started to give the PlayStation community a venue to suggest new software features and influence the future direction of the brand. Since launching the site in June, the community has already suggested nearly 5000 new ideas and seen nearly1.5 million interactions to date.
CR: I love what we are doing with GameStop and that has a lot to do with our team and James who serves as the Community Manager. There are a few others that I really like, mainly because of their content and the fact that they have found and embrace their niche community – Skittles and YouTube.
James Cobo is Fanscape’s Manager of Social Media Marketing and Charles Ryan is a Community Manager.