We’re all a part of some sort of digital community. Whether it’s something as large as an online community of 100,000 members or as small as a local gardening club forum, they all have at least two things in common:
1 - From the outside, managing a community looks easy.
2 - From the inside, managing a community is a lot of hard work.
The thing is, most people don’t see the beginning of it. Most people get involved in an online community after it seems to be functioning smoothly and there are plenty of active members keeping things lively.
Very few see the early days, weeks, and months where the community managers are doing everything they can to breathe life into their creation. Then, once everything is running, nobody sees all the work going on behind the scenes to keep it that way.
There are plenty of myths and misconceptions about what it takes to build and maintain a successful community. Believing in any of them can lead to crucial mistakes that could kill before it starts, the successful online community that you’re hoping to create. Don’t let any of these false ideas bog down your community building efforts.
FALSE IDEA 1
It Is Quick And Easy To Build An Online Community
When you’re browsing through communities that are already alive and successful, it looks deceptively easy to replicate what they’ve done. The reality is that it takes careful planning, proven knowledge, and calculated techniques to build a community that serves both its members and the business behind it.
FALSE IDEA 2
The Right Members Will Keep The Community Alive
Lively, talkative, and charismatic members will help everything run smoother to a certain extent, but you can never count on them to keep things running indefinitely. The community will always need the guidance, input, and occasional calls to action that a manager should provide. A community without a leader will eventually disperse.
FALSE IDEA 3
One Person Can Do It All
There may be some time at the beginning where one person can handle the job, but with any kind of success, the work will soon require collaboration with others. Management, of course, will want regular reports. The community will also inevitably discuss and debate topics that will require input from sales, marketing, customer support, etc. It will become crucial that internal communication works just as well as external.
FALSE IDEA 4
Community Management = Social Media Marketing
Managing a community that interacts through social media and marketing through social media are most certainly not the same thing. Both can use the same channels but not for the same purposes. Social Marketing is about getting a message out and making it attractive to an audience via social networks. Building a community is about interactions. A community manager works to build relationships between the organisation and the audience and cultivate interaction between everyone involved, creating channels that potentially allow for more effective marketing.
FALSE IDEA 5
Community Managers Do Nothing But Stay On Facebook All Day
Of course, a community manager is going to spend most of his or her time online, interacting with people through Facebook but also many more initiatives including everything from direct chat to email campaigns. Today, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, etc… are indeed powerful ways to reach and interact with your community. But a community manager often needs also to deal with tasks taking place outside social media, demanding skills in areas such as organising events, managing and planning content production, create email campaigns, and more.
FALSE IDEA 6
Community Management Doesn’t Require A Full-Time Position
One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is thinking that they can just appoint someone from sales or marketing to spend an hour or two per day to build their community presence. You wouldn’t take someone from the mailroom and ask them to cover the sales desk for a couple of hours to save some money, would you? If you want a dedicated community that will engage with your business, you need a dedicated manager to build and run that community.
FALSE IDEA 7
Community Manager Is An Entry-Level Position
One of the dangers of harbouring some of the other misconceptions we’ve listed is that when you put them all together the result is that people think the role of a community manager is an entry-level position that just about anyone can do. Experienced community managers won’t go near entry-level pay because they know what they're worth. Then, businesses end up with entry-level employees that can’t deliver the results they were looking for—making them think the concept just doesn’t work.
FALSE IDEA 8
Your Community Is Only Open When Your Office Is
Not answering direct business emails outside of business hours is one thing, but not paying attention to your community when the office closes is another. A successful community will have activity around the clock and you never know when there will be a crucial situation that demands attention. It is imperative to remember that everything that happens is viewed by the public. Whether it’s a hacker attack or an extremely unhappy member, leaving a bad situation without a response for hours—or worse, days—looks bad to everyone.
FALSE IDEA 9
A Community Is A Dictatorship
There will always be certain ground rules, but a community will never be completely under the control of, nor be the responsibility of just one administrator. To be successful there must be input from, and an exchange of ideas between, internal and external participants. Stakeholders within the organization should offer what they can as well as make known what they hope to get back. The community managers and the organization also need to listen to community members to make sure their needs and expectations are being met.
FALSE IDEA 10
Build It And They Will Come
It’s not enough to create a Facebook group or install a forum software on your organisation website. People already have plenty of places to talk and interact with each other. You need to show them why it would be to their benefit to join and interact with your business, and on the platform you’ve created for them. You need to reach out and pull them in. They’re not going to come to you.
Hopefully, these ten false ideas about community management will keep you from starting off in the wrong direction with your community building efforts, or just confirm what you were already thinking about it.
You still have questions or comments about the best way to approach building a community around your organisation?
Hivebrite is a leading provider of branded community management platforms and helps all size institutions grow and engage their community - Feel free to visit us or request a demo if you would like to know more.