3 Myths about Community Management

Today is Community Manager Appreciation Day!

Yes, that’s a thing. Obviously it has a hashtag: #CMAD. We’re talking about community managers, people. Of course there’s a hashtag. Use it to give kudos to the awesome digital people in your life today.

Why do we deserve our own appreciation day? Why, that’s an excellent question.

Until I assumed the position as the full-time community manager at an agency about 8 months ago, I never realized how much work actually went into being a community manager. Naive, I know. Like everyone else, I assumed it was a mix of playing on Facebook all day and occasionally hanging out on Twitter and Instagram and maybe some Tumblr or Pinterest. Now, I knew there would be some “responding to consumers” involved and “scripting content”, but that all seemed like gravy.

Numerous Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and a Pinterest program later, I know it’s not all fun, games and cats on the Internet. Being a community manager is a tough, all-consuming job. Still, there’s a lot of this:

WHEN I TELL A FRIEND WHAT I DO FOR A LIVING AND THEY RESPOND WITH: “I FEEL LIKE I COULD DO THAT JOB.” 

That’s why today, I’m going to share with you exactly what community managers do all day. You know, so you’re able to properly appreciate us ;)

 

3 Community Management Myths:

Community Management Myth #1: Someone else writes all the stuff you put online

Shockingly, people really do think all community managers do is moderate comments. For the most part, it’s a community manager (not a brand copywriter) who is sitting there brainstorming and scripting every single thing a brand posts online. Sometimes PR will jump in, but I’d wager that 96% of the time it’s a CM doing the scripting. Still sounds easy? Imagine adopting a different tone 13 times a day – it’s like split-personality disorder on steroids. Now imagine writing endless amounts of content for a consumer packaged good. Not as easy as it seems, huh?

Community Management Myth #2: CMs know all the answers and can post at will all day long.

In the naive days before I was a full time community manager, I used to get all uppity about brands who didn’t respond to criticism immediately. Now that the veil of disillusion has been lifted, I’m more forgiving when an hour goes by and a crisis is still brewing on a brand’s Facebook page. Most of the time, I’m feeling empathy for the community manager.

WHEN A BRAND HAS A SOCIAL CRISIS AND I IMAGINE HOW THE POOR COMMUNITY MANAGER FEELS. 

Why am I suddenly feeling empathy, you might ask? It’s because I now know firsthand that community managers can’t just say whatever they want on a big brand page without client/higher-up approval. Yes, you can plan for crisis and have escalation processes in place, but at the end of the day client/higher-ups/legal/PR need to approve what you’re saying.  This isn’t a customer service call – it’s an easily-screencapped/critiqued/lauded public response. For community managers (think level-headed, crisis-averting, Type-A-personality types), you can imagine how tough it is to watch something escalate while waiting for an in-depth response to be approved.

WHEN I WANT TO ADDRESS A SOCIAL MEDIA CRISIS, BUT CAN’T BECAUSE I’M WAITING ON A RESPONSE FROM CORPORATE. 

Which brings us to…

Community Management Myth #3: Crises are rare

Excuse me while I die laughing. Those of you in the camp of “bad things never happen to good people/brands” can leave now. The reality of community management is that customers on Facebook are rarely there to say awesome things. It takes a much smaller bad experience to inspire people to post on a page than it does good experience. Whether it’s a product they didn’t like, a promoted post they’re considering spam on their feed or a Facebook contest that isn’t working for them, people love to complain. On the rare occasion that the community manager sleeps, someone or their aunt/dog/cat/cousin/grandma is going to have a problem with your brand and post about it. While you are sleeping. And then this happens:
What now? Write a response, run it by the client team, run it by the client, run it by legal, run it by PR, post.
Sometimes the problem will go away. Other times, people will dust off their soapbox and hop back on…relentlessly.

WHEN A TROLL KEEPS COMPLAINING EVEN AFTER WE HANDLED THE ISSUE.

All in a day’s work.

Why would anyone in their right mind want to do this?!

I see I’ve scared you a little. No, it’s not all fun, games & cats n the Internet all day, but being a community manager is a really rewarding job. Honestly. As a community manager, you’re able to interact with customers as the external voice of a brand in a really unique way. It’s true two-way communication, and you get to be at the forefront of that. A mix of public relations, crisis communication, copywriting, digital marketing and advertising, community management allows you to utilize and expand your skillset in a way so many other jobs wouldn’t allow. Every day is new and exciting, even if it’s a stressful one.

The community of community managers (there’s a mouthful) is tightknit and supportive unlike any other. Whether locally (shout out to the Toronto CMs) or global (#cmgrchat #cmgr #SMMeasure), community managers have each others backs and are always there to answer a question or bounce ideas off of. In Toronto especially, I’m lucky enough to have a group of CMs who are also always on Facebook and always up for a quick brainstorm or to help make sense of numbers/a situation.

I’m sending out huge community manager kudos to some of my favourite CMs (…/digital marketers/SM managers/digital strategists…we’re jack of all trades, really) in Toronto today:

Shout-outs are also in order to two of my favourite digital ladies in NYC, Emily Schildt & Lindsay Kos at Chobani, and to the best Tumblr in the universe, What Should We Call Social Media (the source of all these awesome GIFs).

So, today, raise a glass (of coffee and/or booze…remember, these people don’t sleep) to your friendly local community manager. They deserve it.

Happy Community Manager Appreciation Day, friends!

Bonus: WSWCSM’s post is awesome

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// 8 Comments
5 comments
Rayanne Langdon
Rayanne Langdon

It bothers me that people say "Community Manager" when they really mean "Online Community Manager". One of the many phrases I hate about this industry, but I'll probably never win any of my phrase fights. Hah.

 

The Chobani girls might fit the general term, actually, because they're out getting involved in the community IRL. I'd say the best example of this is @jonspenceley (formerly @erinbury ) at Sprouter.

sarah_devries13
sarah_devries13

Great read. I'm no troll, but this cleared some things up for me, and I have a whole new appreciation for CMs. 

stephaniefusco
stephaniefusco moderator

 @Rayanne Langdon  There are definitely a few variations about what the job actually means. I do agree with you, Ray. The ideal community manager is in-house and gets to interact with the community both online and in person. Unfortunately, that's not always feasible. Tough to win that fight ;)