Supporting Your Community Manager
I was recently asked for advice on what a company could do to make the lives of their Community Managers better. While I absolutely cannot claim to speak for everyone, I’ve put together a quick list of the top 5 considerations I think would provide significant value when thinking about and supporting your community team.
#1: Company Values
Have a strong, public list of company values, and reinforce those through public actions. I always appreciated a previous company that I worked for that made it very clear that they participate in pride parade, and that anyone who enjoyed their games was welcome. Making that public, making it clear that this was a company that supported diversity and wasn’t okay with bullying, etc was HUGE.
Providing clear evidence of company values sets the tone for the company’s communications to the public. Your company values are the foundation of how you do business and interact with your customers. If you’re not providing a clear foundation to build from, don’t be surprised if your product, progress, and subsequent communications are inconsistent. It’s one thing if a CM is just enforcing the ‘community rules’, it’s another when they’re supported by a set of company values that back them up.
#2: Have Their Back
Understand that while dealing with abuse is sometimes ‘part of the job’, that it can have a real emotional and psychological impact and that sometimes Community Managers need additional support. If someone has been taking the heat on behalf of the team/company/etc for an extended period of time, it can be as simple as asking how they’re doing and making sure that if they need support, they’ve got it. I’ve seen too many Community Managers burned out by a lack of support structure, and even worse, subjected to belittlement or other negative career implications when they state they need to step away for a bit, or just need someone to tag in for a moment.
#3: Be Prepared to Step in and Take Action
If you see your employee being personally attacked, doxxed, or otherwise personally threatened in a serious manner, be prepared as a company to step in from an authoritative standpoint. Have a plan for this situation well before you need to utilize it. Hopefully you never will, but it doesn’t hurt to have a corporate policy and be ready to take legal action if need be on behalf of your employee.
#4: Give Them the Tools They Need
If you’re not giving your Community Managers the tools they need to moderate and deal with problematic behavior, you’re doing not just them, but the company a huge disservice when things go awry. Work with them to identify what would be the most valuable from their perspective, and empower them to make intelligent decisions around how to improve those tools over time.
Don’t just pay lip service to this, assign a budget. Prioritize this work on par with the rest of your business.
#5: Never Devalue your Community Team
I’ve seen this at various companies and it’s extremely disheartening. If you’re actively, even ‘jokingly’ making fun of the work that your community team does, and the value they bring into the company, you are making it that much harder for them to seek support if and when they should need it. Joking that we just ‘hang out on Twitter all day’, etc can set the wrong tone, and in turn encourage the rest of your staff to devalue and/or resent your community managers. Treat your Community Team as a valued part of your business. What you say as a leader or manager matters: Make sure you’re not sending a negative message to the rest of the company about the value of your Community Managers.
Treat your Community Managers like real, valuable members of your business if you want to excel.
This is just my look at what companies could be doing to make the lives of their Community Managers better. Every business is going to be a little bit different, so make sure you evaluate what works best for your organization and the individuals that make up your community team. The best way to do this is to involve them in the process!
Community Managers: What would you add to the list?