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Having managed communities spanning from global secret music parties to Euro-wide white goods brand, and having been lucky enough to have had both the freedom to experiment with new platforms and new types of content, with the discipline of strict brand guidelines and superb customer service; we feel it’s only fair to share some of the harder things learned by ‘hardcore’ community management. So we give you some quite general (but equally as important) considerations to becoming a great community manager.

1. Listen, Read and be Curious: Always

You are as much a part of your community as you are a leader, a steward if you will. Care about people first and brand second. Which would you rescue in a fire? Measure and explore your audience, you may have fans both you and the company did not know about.

2. Use the right tools for you and your channels

The right tools for what works for you. Not ‘what’s hot’ or what you think you should be using. Listening and being able to judge and discover quickly is key. Listening tools like Tweetdeck or feed tools like Feed.ly, good old Google alerts and analytics are key to my monitoring direct and non-direct brand mentions. I’ve started using many new tools and apps only to find they only really do 1 out of the gazillion they claim to do. Find what generally works for you. Be curious about platforms your community may be active on: Jelly, Snapchat, Vine, YO! LinkedIn, etc. Even other forums or overlapping communities can potentially indicate a valuable brand partnership.

3. Stay Focused
What are you trying to maintain for your brand and your community? What are the key goals and objectives? Focus on these and how you can suit the objective to your community. How they would like to engage with this in order for you to reach your goal? Give them something that they want, something that resonates, looking offline for what makes people buzz is always helpful.

4. Measure and Track
Use your tracking and measurement to gain insight. Compare your metrics and take the time to discuss these with others. Take a step back and apply the numbers to real activities both on and offline and you’ll soon unearth the cause of ‘that spike’ in charts or site visits.

4. Employ Freedom within your Boundaries
Curate and create constructively but have the freedom to be agile and responsive too. Planning for the minute is just as important as planning for the month. And having responsive processes as well as long term plans for posting and responding can result in being ready for anything with bullet proof timing! The most meaningless content can be the most fun; when content serves too much purpose it reduces the fun potential.

5. Guide (don’t drag) your Community
Whether it be your brand side team or your customer community. They are all a part of your community and require the right kind of binding. They all hold personal qualities that need recognition both on and offline and this is key to engaging positively. Communicate with your audience’s strengths and preferences. Be thoughtful and proactive. Mentions for brand evangelists ‘for no apparent reason’ go a long way; praise goes further and being a ‘best friend brand’ soon becomes natural.

Whatever is the nature of your community; there’s always a common interest. Find it and explore it. If your brand sells a product or service this can be quite simple: balance customer service with brand communication, have fun elsewhere and plan for all eventualities. Be an expert on your product or service but more-so be an expert on your community on the side of the customer. Diplomacy is a key factor.

Do you agree with these points? What would you recommend or add any? Are there any glaringly obvious tips we’ve missed? Let us know how you work with your community, we’d love to know more.

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