Why Community Managers Are Essential for a Great Digital Experience
Understanding Community Managers’ Key Tasks & Best Practices
For your digital experience to unlock and continuously generate value, the right people are needed to help launch, oversee and maintain it. That role is often filled by a Community Manager, the beating heart of a community, who frequently becomes a major reason why users adopt and return to your experience. They help to differentiate your experience from an ordinary website, nurturing advocates and making sure you realize the full business value of your investment.
By understanding the key roles (yes, plural!) that Community Managers play, and some of the best practices for how they perform those tasks, it’s easy to see why this role shouldn’t be underestimated and why these individuals are essential for a great digital experience.
What Are Some Key Roles of Community Managers?
While far from exhaustive, many a community manager’s responsibilities fall largely within three categories: Set Up & Support; Moderation; and Adoption & Engagement. Here are some of the tasks that Community Managers perform to keep a digital experience engaging, evolving and generating ROI.
Set Up & Support
- Develop a plan for launch, activation and growth
- Configure the community and support its overall management, content needs and user experience features on an ongoing basis
- Work with UX professionals to identify opportunities and risks related to ease of use. Make sure to include features that are important to your specific users!
- Determine the role that your company’s leadership and other internal stakeholders play in promoting and nurturing the community
- Monitor the health and performance of the community, collecting and communicating metrics and insights
- Provide regular updates to leadership to ensure your community remains engaging and achieves its intended goals
- Create specific membership policies and processes to govern appropriate (and inappropriate) uses of the community. And don’t be afraid to enforce them!
- Moderate the community to maintain a tone and direction that aligns with the intended use
- Provide guidelines, best practices and enforcement procedures for both internal (employees/partners) and/or external (customers) users
- Develop administrative guidelines and privileges so that others can help foster the community’s success
- Separate enhancement requests from technical issues. This ensures that the community always remains functional while taking into account the developments that will keep users delighted in the future
Adoption & Engagement
- Community Managers learn to listen to users, helping keep conversations and interactions going by monitoring activity.
- Answer questions directly in the community as they arise.
- For internal communities, ensure all employees have appropriate access
- Take necessary steps to encourage participation when activity drops below desired levels
- Promote new content, members, groups and topics, elevating and exposing key resources for users
- Document successes and the growing value of content that is frequently engaged with in the community
- Maintain a list of feature and enhancement requests that come in from user discussions. New features become new reasons for members to keep coming to your community, meaning they become important activation tools for community managers!
As you can see, a Community Managers does so much more than answer “how-to” questions. From launch throughout your community’s entire lifecycle, the business value you unlock and the ability to keep users happy and engaged is often dependent on a strong Community Manager juggling a wide variety of tasks.
What Are Some Best Practices that Community Managers Should Follow?
Simply having a Community Manager to fill the roles outlined above is a big part of delighting users with a great digital experience. But when your Community Manager follows best practices, you take your community to the next level and ensure a vibrant experience that drives value. Here are five ways Community Managers can help separate your digital experience from the competition.
Recruit Key Influencers and Advocates
This is easier said than done. Community Managers should make sure to listen to the conversations and discussions happening in the community to identify individuals who are most active. Influencers and early adopters who willingly and positively promote your experience have a major impact on the community’s success. So make sure you find them and know who they are!
Implement (and Encourage) Sharing and Referrals
After recruiting these key influencers and brand advocates, you need to enable them to spread the word about your community and its strengths through word of mouth. Undiscovered or uncertain users are more likely to engage in the community (driving those valuable data-powered insights to your business) if they’re hearing from real people. Don’t try and encourage participation solely through official corporate messaging; enable real people, like your Community Manager and brand advocates, to share their experiences with your community.
Implement a System that Rewards Contributors
Gamification can go a long way toward increasing the value of your community. Top-notch Community Managers will leverage features like points, badges and prizes to reward members for engaging with the community. Once they’re rewarded for interacting with your brand, you’ll get more repeat visitors who generate even more business value.
Be Transparent and Honest with Users
It’s important for your Community Manager to be transparent with users. Yes, you want to present your brand in a positive manner, but take extra care not to deceive or lie. Your Community Manager should become a trusted, integral part of the overall digital experience.
Provide Consistent, Excellent Content
Finally, your community users need a reason to keep coming back. A stale digital experience won’t attract (or retain) anyone. Your Community Manager is able to inform users about the resources available in the community that are free and easily accessible. While the overall UX and UI of your digital experience is obviously important, your Community Manager must ensure that the content is visible enough to meet your users’ needs.
Community Managers are the people who ensure the longevity of your community and allow it to flourish. Looking at their numerous roles and some of the best practices they follow, it’s apparent why an effective Community Manager helps your business unlock value by delighting users and ensuring a great digital experience.