How Online Community Managers Can Set Realistic Expectations - dummies

How Online Community Managers Can Set Realistic Expectations

By Deborah Ng

It may seem as if so much is expected of an online community manager, you may be expecting a super hero cape to come with your employee manual. Just be careful not to give the impression you can do it all. For sure, you have to achieve certain goals, but don’t set yourself up for failure.

If you say you can grow your community by a certain percentage, be sure you can do so. Ditto claiming to be able to drive a certain dollar amount in sales. If you can’t do what you say you can, you’ll look as if you’re someone who makes lots of promises but doesn’t come through.

For many businesses, online community is a hard sell. The muckety-mucks in the big offices want to see numbers and know that they’re getting a good return on their investment (ROI.). Their goals for you may even be loftier than the ones you’re setting for yourself. The thing is, you can’t throw out or agree to any numbers without knowing enough about the community and the brand.

Don’t make any decision regarding sales or growth until you’ve taken enough time to observe the following:

  • Past records: View past reports to see how much the business and community has grown, or not grown, in the past. See how the people who were in a similar position before you achieved the same goals.

    If your business had a community manager in the past, you’ll most likely have access to his records and accounts. If you’re the first community manager, you’ll have to find out how online campaigns were handled in the past and take it from there.

  • Stats: View website data, analyze traffic, review the amount of activity and comments left by community members in the past, and check out sales and social media campaigns.

  • Notes and messages: Read through all the notes and messages from your company’s social media accounts. If someone complained on Twitter, how was it handled? Did your predecessor reach out to bloggers to foster good relations? What can you change about the handling of the Facebook page?

  • Other community managers: You’ll find the community of online community managers to be very helpful. If you’re not sure how to set realistic goals, ask. They may not have the exact answer, but they’ll be able to guide you in the right direction.

If you’re new at your job, it’s common to want to prove yourself. Setting the bar too low or too high will set the wrong expectations. Research your community and past campaigns as well as the campaigns put out by similar communities before throwing out any numbers.