The Online Community Manager Is A Brand Advocate
Brand advocacy is the online community manager’s most important responsibility. Everything you do online under the brand umbrella is reflective of the brand. Though you may be tempted to let your hair down and cut loose on the social networks, it’s not a good idea while using the brand accounts.
You may want to have two separate accounts on social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, so that you can do some personal, off-the-record online socializing. However, this isn’t to say that there aren’t repercussions for acting inappropriately on your personal account either. Some members may still see you as representing the brand, even when you’re off the clock.
So how do you represent the brand in a responsible manner?
Maintain an authoritative presence. One reason community management is such a desirable field right now is because it looks so darn fun. What other jobs allow you to hang out on the social networks and chat up people all day? The problem with this attitude is that you can get a little too comfortable with socializing and with community members.
You can have a good time, but members need to know who is in charge and show respect for the rules and regulations those in authority are there to enforce. If your members see you as one of the guys, retaining control can be hard, and the brand may look like it has an unruly community.
Behave in a matter befitting the brand. Community managers who embarrass their employers don’t last long, and other brands are reluctant to hire them. Keep the cursing, innuendo, and other inappropriate language at bay, even if you’re just joking. Save the salty talk for when you’re not on company time. Also be careful cutting loose while representing your place of employment at conferences, professional events, meet-ups, and tweetups.
Be very careful when doing things off the record. Not everyone who interacts online is completely trustworthy. Be sure not to give away any company secrets or speak off the record, even to participants you feel you can trust. You may have made some friends among the community, but your loyalty is to your employer.
Don’t get personal. Certain personal details are okay to discuss. For example, if you’re managing a parenting community, it’s fine to talk about some of the things you do with your family as they relate to the topic. However, talking about your dating or sex life and sharing too much information in general doesn’t reflect well upon the brand.
When a community manager feels relaxed among her “tribe,” it’s a good sign things are going right. But be careful that comfort doesn’t lead to too much familiarity. Stay relevant and on topic and keep your personal life personal. Remember, everything you do or say is an extension of your place of business.