Online Community Manager: The Community Advocate Hat - dummies

Online Community Manager: The Community Advocate Hat

By Deborah Ng

Online community managers look out for their people. Acting in their best interests ensures trust in the brand. It means having their backs even though it might lead to an uncomfortable situation in the workplace. It shouldn’t come to that, however. You’ll find that for the most part, the brand is interested in learning the needs of the community and establishing trust by providing a positive user experience.

They hired you to create trust in the brand and to keep the channels of communication open, and here’s how you can do just that:

  • Handle complaints. As community manager, you’ll sometimes feel as if you’re a dumping ground for customer nitpicks and complaints. Most of the time, these are things you can handle on your own. Perhaps someone didn’t receive a refund or a product didn’t show up in the mailbox on time. These are easy fixes either by you or another person in your company.

    Other times, complaints aren’t so cut-and-dried but are still deserving of a solution. Community managers not only find help, but also follow up to ensure that the matter has been resolved.

  • Pass on concerns. Community members who care about a brand also become concerned when reading negative press or having a negative experience. Not only does a community manager help to rectify these issues, but she also makes sure that those beyond the customer service department know about them.

    The community manager passes on concerns before they reach the breaking point so that they can be handled effectively and positively by the company executives.

  • Monitor the channels. It’s up to the community manager to learn what’s being said online about the brand. You can monitor the channel in several ways. By using keywords and setting up Google Alerts, you’ll receive notices in your mailbox every time someone mentions your company on a blog, website, or social network.

    It’s incredibly important to not only know what’s being said, but to reach out to the people who are saying it.When your community knows you’re watching, listening and reacting in kind, they feel confident in the brand.

  • Have good communication. As community manager, you’re going to receive plenty of e-mails, and with the exception of spam or abusive messages, you’ll have to respond to each and every one. This may mean you’ll have to suck up to a customer who had a bad experience or simply drop a line to say that a matter is being looked into. It is important never to leave anyone hanging.

    The last thing you want is to have a reputation for not responding to customer queries or complaints. So it’s good practice to answer every e-mail, even if only to say, “I forwarded your complaint to John in Customer Service, and he’ll take it from here.”

    Also, don’t write off angry complaints as being trollish or abusive. There’s validity in anger. Don’t brush off the issue or the anger and respond in a kind manner.

    When good communication occurs between the company and the brand, customers believe in the brand and remain loyal.

  • Fight for the needs of the community. Because the community manager has her finger on the pulse of the community, she’s also the one who knows what’s best for them. At times when she has to be vocal about some things she might think are a bad fit or unfair.

    Sometimes these things are a hard sell, which means she’ll have to present her team with well-thought-out arguments as to why something won’t work. Presenting ideas in a respectful manner goes a long way in getting your point across.