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Online Community Manager: How to Represent the Brand

As the most public representation of your brand, you, the online community manager, are the one whom everyone will be reaching out to with comments, questions, suggestions and even business propositions. When acting as a brand spokesperson, you have many items to consider:

  • Policies on disclosure, transparency, and what to release to the public: Sometimes the most innocent comments cause a stir. These comments may not even cause a stir for you or your community, but your company may feel they’re inappropriate.

    Before getting started, lay some ground rules. Talk with your team about the kinds of things you like to talk about with the community and how you handle public complaints or discourse. Discuss what kinds of responses are appropriate, what you can handle on your own, and when you should check before making a statement.

  • Legalities: Before releasing any public statement, you may have to check with the legal team. Sometimes everything has to be worded just so. If you have to run everything through legal, it will be one of the most frustrating parts of the job, especially because they may not understand the benefits of transparency or writing in a casual voice.

  • Going through the proper channels: Because the community manager is wearing so many hats, you can easily step on toes if you’re not careful. Always make sure to check with the proper departments before speaking of anything having to do with them. Always try to get the blessing of all parties involved.

  • Not addressing everything: Not everything warrants a response. Gauge the situation and discuss it with your team. This isn’t to say that you should sweep issues under the rug, but not everything needs to be a major production.

    If you have to issue a press release for every single company burp or make a public statement every time a misstep occurs or a coupon code is issued, folks are going to start rolling their eyes. Not everything needs to turn into a public issue.

  • Having someone else address an issue: Now and then, you need to give someone else a chance to talk. Online communities love to hear from executives, corporate VIPs, and company celebrities. Even having them stop by community haunts to say hello goes a long way toward brand loyalty.

Because you’re the voice of your brand, you’re on your honor to behave in the best interests of the brand, especially on company time or while using the company social-media accounts. Speak in a conversational tone, but keep the salty talk to a minimum — or, better yet, no salty talk at all.

Be careful about dropping too much information (TMI). Your dates and sex life don’t concern the community. As brand and community spokesperson, it’s up to you to represent both in the most professional light possible.

Community managers are public representations of their brand. They need to act in a matter befitting the brand and not be afraid to respond to public outcry.

Keep in mind that most community situations aren’t negative, and 99 percent of the job is in creating fun promotions and campaigns your community is sure to love. Just be sure to be prepared for that 1 percent when you have to battle negativity.

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