I’ve been a part of this social media thing for several years now. I’ve been blogging and working online for about a decade. I’ve been building up online communities in some form or another for at least ten years. While I won’t claim to be an expert, I think it’s safe to say I know a little of what I’m talking about. I’ve come to two conclusions about community management. The first is that everyone has a different idea about what a community manager’s job entails. The second is that most people think a community manager is nothing more than a glorified forum moderator who only needs to worry about the social networks.
That’s not it at all.
Community management is more than just Twitter. It’s more than FaceBook or Ning or MySpace. I’m even going to go as far as to say it doesn’t have much to do with those things at all, and anyone who thinks it’s about how many friends you have on Facebook or followers on Twitter, is clearly missing the mark. Community management is about creating a positive user experience. Yes, that does mean one should monitor the social networks to see what one’s community is saying about them, but that’s not what it’s about at all.
What I like to do is pretend there’s no Twitter or Facebook. How would I reach out to my community then? How can I find out what they think of our service? When I think about it, why would I want to create separate “groups” on the different social networks when the ultimate goal is to get them to socialize at their community’s home base. That just makes cliques, not communities.
Community management isn’t just Twitter. It’s being a voice for the people. It’s being a hands on customer service person. It’s finding out what the people in your community are talking about and taking that information and putting it to good use. Community management is about creating a positive user experience. It’s about building up relationships with people and gaining their trust. When you think about it, that has nothing to do with Twitter at all.