Online Community Manager: The Content Developer Hat - dummies

Online Community Manager: The Content Developer Hat

By Deborah Ng

Everything posted online is content, including text, video, and audio. Online community managers tend to be the keepers of the content. They maintain the company blogs, post to the social networks, and even plan videos or company podcasts.

The most successful community managers are creative types. They have a way with words and never run out of things to talk about.

How to choose forms of online community content

Content comes in many forms:

  • Blogs

  • Newsletters

  • webinars

  • website articles

  • Updates to the social networks

  • Forum entries

  • Video

Discuss the type of content your community needs with your team. If your company has an editorial department, it may help shape and edit your content. As the person who is to be the brand’s most active web presence, however, you provide most content.

This isn’t to say that you’ll have to write fresh articles and blog posts every day, unless that’s part of your agreement. Community content may also come in the form of frequently asked questions (FAQs), comment policies, community guidelines, and other more official types of writing.

Most community managers put a plan together listing the best ways to reach out to the community and stick to it on a regular schedule. A weekly customer newsletter, twice- or thrice-weekly blog posts, and lots of social networking or forum updates will ensure that customers are kept in the know.

How to write and edit online community content

If you never took editorial classes and don’t have an English degree, you may be worried about being expected to write and edit content for the company website or blog. Don’t worry too much. When you’re writing for your community, it’s more about using conversational language than about following a strict format. Without dumbing things down, write in a manner that’s easy to understand and that comes naturally for you.

When writing for an online community, keep the following pointers in mind:

  • Write how you speak. Use a conversational tone. Customers and community members are more responsive when they understand what you’re saying and your content isn’t filled with jargon. Be mindful of slang and avoid profanity, but don’t be afraid to use humor to get your point across. That isn’t to say that you should be slapstick, but people do relate best to a light tone.

  • Be mindful of typos and errors. Even if you didn’t attend journalism school, you likely have a good grasp of the basic principles of grammar and can spot typos. Always double-check your work before making it public to be sure that it’s clean.

    Your content is a reflection of your community. If it’s poorly written and filled with typos, it reflects poorly on your brand, and people will think you don’t care.

  • Take care not to offend. Things that may seem small to you may seem major to someone else. Be careful not to offend anyone in your community.

    Avoid stereotypes and don’t poke fun at different groups or ethnicities. Don’t bring up politics or religion unless you belong to a political or religious community, and even then, be careful what you’re putting out there. Also be careful when pushing the envelope. You may think that edgy or swear words are hip, but not everyone reacts to them the same way.

  • Remain neutral. Even if you personally feel strongly about a particular issue, you can’t take sides. Community managers are neutral parties and must always remain neutral regardless of personal preference.