Customer service

Spotlight on the art and action of community management

A community is a group of people having something in common. That something can really be anything: where they live, interests, one or several characteristics, job roles, anything indeed.

Being part of a community obviously isn’t the same as being connected to all the members within it. We don’t know all fans of our favourite soccer club, even if they’re all packed in a stadium, just as often we don’t even know our neighbours.

Community as a verb

Social and communityTo grasp the essence and degree of connectedness and involvement of online/social/mixed communities and how they shape around brands, stories, activities and objectives, we look at community from another perspective: that of engagement, participation, connectivity and action.

We see community as a verb rather than a noun: the actions within a more identifiable group of people, connecting, engaging, sharing and supporting each other.

Communities exist. You can’t really build them, let alone force ‘community acquisition’ through, for instance, paid media, as the Wunderman people at Cerebra stress in their latest eBook.

“The job of a community manager is to create a culture or experience within their specific communities – a culture that will live on without always requiring community manager prompts.”

— Reece Jacobsen

We are community – the objective and purpose in deeper connections

For us, marketers, the art is turning communities into an objective and meeting participant drivers and demands, serving their goals. This way, communities can effectively serve multiple objectives, both for the business and the ‘participants’.

Just one of many examples of such goals which we often see leading to high and even fast value for all stakeholders: customer care, keeping in mind the essential role of customer service overall in this day and age – and the evolutions in the ways people seek service.

At the same time, we want to know, understand and ‘nurture’ the communities that have shaped around our brand, products, services and the stories we share and have in common.

“Being” community as Cerebra calls it, bringing back in the verb, is about deeper connections going beyond sheer presence and often with a highly emotional aspect (just look at what happens at each upcoming news announcement from Apple), a strong feeling of value and values in all senses of the word and a mix of multiple commonalities strengthening the bonds.

Community management is (worth) much more than meets the eye

To make it all happen community management is crucial and the role of the community manager can’t be stressed enough for organisations who want to create the best possible value for, through and from ‘their’ communities crucial. However, as most community management practitioners will tell you a lot of their actions are not seen, let alone appreciated (enough). Why else would there be such a thing as the annual Community Manager Appreciation Day?

It’s exactly to highlight both the importance of community – as a verb – in social, the importance of community management and the role/skillset of community managers that Cerebra released the eBook, “The Community Management Spectrum”.

It’s not just a guide to comprehensive community management as the subtitle indicates but also brings the myriad roles of the community manager into the spotlight.

Just as we can only see what it’s the visible spectrum of light (hence the title), it’s time to show what it’s in the all too often invisible spectrum of the community manager’s role. Because it does matter. Community management is not a pure ‘quid pro quo’ but, as in any relationship, achieving a (common) objective and caring requires proper…care.

Community moderation - The Community Management Spectrum

Community moderation – The Community Management Spectrum

Time to look at the full community management spectrum

Community management is about a LOT more than just replying to comments, sharing some content or approving whatnot. So, what is about? It partially depends on your goals and on the ‘type’ of community but one thing is for sure: there is more than what meets the eye and sits in the visible spectrum.

“Once you know which ‘communities of interest’ are relevant to your brand, you need to conduct extensive research into each of those communities.”

— Cerebra

Some of the many tasks of community managers that are covered in the paper (there are more) and often overlooked:

  • community research,
  • proactive (as opposed to reactive) moderation,
  • building relationships and identifying them (along with their depth and nature),
  • crisis communications,
  • strategy and governance,
  • insight and reporting and, last but not least ,
  • gauging TRUE success while constantly improving it.

In the eBook, Cerebra provides advise for each of these community management tasks and several more.

Value requires value and skills: a call-to-action

Community management is far more than basic customer care and offers more than we often realise. If we really want to tap into the power of community we also need to focus more on the skills of community managers and stop seeing them as ‘the folks who moderate stuff and send social messages’.

Value requires value. And appreciation. Community managers deserve it as do communities and their participants. We ARE community.

A full overview of the what, how and why with the community management spectrum in the eBook.