Tip one on how to build and nurture an online community

In a workshop with Zoe Sisko, community manager for homestars.com, we discussed some of the roles, challenges and responsibilities of a Community Manager. Although the title is now being widely used, the implications of the role are still not crystal clear. Sitting down in a discussion, the crowd agreed that community management involves dealing with customer service issues, creating exposure and getting a community to go viral. The largest objective of all and we could all agree was creating a collaboration – i.e. take care or your customers and they will act on your behalf when asked to.

To get a little more in depth about the topic, an example was brought up. The speaker/community manager goes into her experience of social media communications with a local warehouse sale vs. a large airline company. In her experience with the local warehouse sale nearby, the social media guru tweeted and asked about the status of the line. An immediate response came her way stating that lines were not too lengthy and were moving quickly. As a result, she immediately hopped over and purchased a portion of the products.

The experience with the large airline company didn’t quite have the same effect. The discrepancy between a connecting flight had Zoe and friends ultimately frustrated. After trying multiple methods of communications, a tweet was sent her way to connect via twitter with the airline. Tweets and messages were sent out in hopes to solve the issue. Not a single response or acknowledgement was given; yet tweets were consistently being posted by the airline during the waiting process.

The moral of the story, timing is everything. An “always respond” attitude is important in the role of a community manager. However, much of this depends on the nature of the community and the expectations and standards that community managers should consider when responding. Although it may be a challenge to cover all questions, requests, complaints through quick responses, always remember a late response is better than none at all.





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