How to Keep Communication Open in an Online Community - dummies

How to Keep Communication Open in an Online Community

By Deborah Ng

Think an online community manager only keeps conversation flowing? Think again. Moderating discussions is only a small part of a community manager’s job. You’re also expected to provide outreach to other communities, while providing support and acting as an advocate for both community members and your employer.

As a community manager, you provide customer support, respond to questions and inquiries, and monitor the web to see what is being said about the businesses you work for. You act as spokesperson and ambassador for your company.

Online community management encompasses many departments, so some businesses are confused about which department their community managers should report to. “Community manager” also tends to be a sort of catchall title for someone who deals with the people who use a particular product or brand. Usually, the job evolves with the brand.

If members are joining a business or brand’s community, they’re doing so because they believe in the product, service, or whatever it is they’re selling or promoting. Members join to discuss the best ways to use said product or service, receive discounts, and learn of news and updates.

The business or brand hosting the online community also has a vested interest. It wants to discover its customers’ opinions, how they use its products or services, drive sales, and hopefully foster word-of-mouth marketing.

As a result, the community manager has to ensure a two-way street, ensuring that members are offering feedback to the brand while the brand is keeping members apprised of news and updates.

The community manager is the mouthpiece of the organization. You ensure that both members and management are learning as much as they can about each other. In some cases, you need to add updates on the community’s discussion page.

It also means sending out newsletters, writing blog posts, articles, and press releases, and making announcements on Twitter and Facebook. You then report the resulting comments, both positive and negative, to the proper channels.