Community: What I Know
As I leave behind my Community Manager days at Xbox, I want to share some of the things I’ve learned over the years. So CMs and CM-hopefuls, take note!
1) It’s not about you
Being a community manager is not a chance for you to become a celebrity or to pump up your ‘personal brand’ (puke). If community is a party, you should strive to be the host with the most, not the drunk dude with a lampshade on his head or the lady surrounded by suitors like Scarlett O’Hara at the Twelve Oaks picnic. Your job is to keep the party safe, make sure everyone has a good time, and bounce troublemakers. Welcome newcomers, nip arguments in the bud, make sure the pretzel bowl is full. If you see someone sitting alone, strike up a conversation and introduce them around. If all the attention is on you…you’re doing it wrong.
2) Community is supposed to be inclusive
As in the opposite of “exclusive”. Discourage factions and cliques in your community. No one needs to re-live Junior High. Above all, don’t surround yourself with an exclusive group of butt-kissers. You are not the Queen Bee. You may not think you’re playing favorites, but inside jokes, references to partying with certain people or hanging out at events is off-putting to the members of the community who aren’t part of the ‘in crowd’.
3) Don’t badmouth your employers
No one’s asking you to be a corporate shill. Or if they are, their definition of community manager is skewed. If you don’t agree with what your company/game/service is doing, either quit or keep your trap shut. You have opinions, but remember who signs your paycheck.
4) The truth about Community Managers
Your job is to humanize and distribute the corporate message to customers, then corporatize and distribute the customer’s message back to your employer. Example: Hey guys, we’re going to be doing X! I know it’s different, but try to keep an open mind when you try it. Give it a chance and let me know what you think.” Then you gather the feedback and put it in a way that makes sense to your company: “Based on community feedback, over all they love X but really hate Y. Fixing Y will satisfy our customers and help us meet these business goals…ABC ” See what you did? You listened to the customer, you provided meaningful insights and an action plan to your employer, and actually made a difference in the product. Go you!
5) It’s still not about you
Don’t be a dick. Don’t be a diva. Don’t make people kiss your ass. You are not the star; your product/game/service/company is. It is your job to move the focus off yourself and put it on the community and the product.