The ‘Big Bang Theory’ Guide to Remarkable Online Community Management

Jill Tooley
Jill Tooley Head of Content and Social Media, Quality Logo Products

Posted on July 17th 2012

The ‘Big Bang Theory’ Guide to Remarkable Online Community Management

The Big Bang Theory characters are as varied as you can get.

There’s Sheldon Cooper (the neurotic genius), Penny (the sexy neighbor), Howard Wolowitz (the awkward jokester), and Rajesh Koothrappali (the astrophysicist who’s incapable of speaking to women). Throw in the antics of newcomers like Amy Farrah Fowler and Bernadette Rostenkowski, and the group can get a little crazy.

And of course, we can’t forget about Leonard Hofstadter, the main character and the glue that holds the group together. He’s the most mild-mannered and even-tempered person in the group, which means he’s often thrown into the role of mediator-in-chief whether he likes it or not.

Here’s how Leonard is able to maintain healthy relationships with this motley crew and address their concerns, and how you can do the same when managing your social network interactions!

"The Big Bang Theory" Main Cast


Keep a Consistent Voice, but Tailor Your Responses to Each Situation

Leonard knows that things have to be done or said in a specific way for each of his friends. He wouldn’t talk to a theoretical physicist like Sheldon the way he talks to girl-next-door Penny, just like he wouldn’t give the same advice to Howard that he gives to Raj. He adapts his dialogue to each of them, which is exactly what an effective community manager does when interacting with different types of customers.

How you can apply this: Tailor your response to the issue at hand. It’s probably not a good time to crack a joke if a customer is panicking because their order was wrong. Instead, stay calm and offer advice according to the situation at hand. When dealing with a particularly chipper customer, however, it may be appropriate to sprinkle in some humor. Different customer types require different customer service methods, and a good community manager is familiar with every possible approach.

That’s not to say you should do a 180 every time you speak to a new client, though. Keep your voice consistent, but adjust your attitude. There’s a time and a place for everything.

Always Take the High Road

Any Big Bang Theory viewer knows how difficult it is to reason with Sheldon when he doesn’t get his way. He rarely knows the meaning of the word compromise, and why should he when he’s convinced he’s in the right? Because Leonard is his roommate and closest friend, he usually gives in to Sheldon’s demands even if that means making a sacrifice to keep him happy. Anger only fans the flames, so Leonard chooses to take the high road more often than not.

How you can apply this: Think of Sheldon as an upset client; he’s not pleased about a situation, he wants the issue solved immediately, and he doesn’t particularly care how that happens. As a community manager, you should think like Leonard and find the most logical way to make things right. Sometimes it’s necessary to take a loss and send out a new product to replace the one that got damaged in shipping, or to arrive at a compromise that works for both parties. Name calling, blame displacing, and rude responses won’t do any good, so it’s best to help the customer and then move on.

Address Problems When They Arise, or They’ll Grow

Many of the Big Bang Theory characters have disagreements over the course of the show, and sometimes they turn into full-blown falling outs. You know what never solves the problem for any of them? Ignoring it or pretending it never happened. The silent treatment isn’t an effective relationship strategy, so issues only become more complicated when they’re left to fester for too long.

How you can apply this: Just like the TBBT crowd, customers will give feedback and interact on a regular basis, and it won’t always be positive. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring negative comments, or worse – deleting them. Everyone makes mistakes, even you or the company you represent, and there’s no shame in admitting an error. Address client problems as soon as humanly possible and the situation will be less likely to blow up into a larger problem. How many social media brand fiascoes need to occur before this honest technique is recognized as the only technique?

Varied Topics and Activities Work Best for Everyone

It’s nearly impossible to find a topic or activity that pleases every member of the Big Bang Theory group of friends; for example, Sheldon almost always refuses to try new things, and Penny doesn’t share the same nerdy interests as the majority of the others. It’s only logical that Average Joes or Janes wouldn’t be particularly keen on discussing complicated equations in their spare time, or that socially-awkward geeks wouldn’t fit in at a thriving social hub like a club or bar.

Leonard minimizes opposition by either suggesting middle-ground activities for the group to do together or insisting they alternate to keep it fair. Both work quite well.

How you can apply this: Vary your social media strategy to include a variety of posts, contests, or promotions that keep the feed interesting. Make a point to add value each day, instead of retweeting the same websites over and over again or flooding the walls with self-promos. Your customer base may be united under your umbrella, but they’ll still want to see diversity from you and your brand. Anything less will mean decreased traffic, engagement, and general interest.

The Big Bang Theory may be a TV show, but that doesn’t mean it’s a brain suck. Leonard Hofstadter has had his fair share of miscommunications and trial-and-error situations throughout the series, and he’s a seasoned pro when it comes to managing a group of diverse individuals.

So, the next time you face a social media crisis and struggle with community management, remember that it’s not that different from managing friendships or personal relationships. Be a Leonard! That means you should be compassionate, thoughtful, and logical no matter what. If you can pull it off, you’ll be one darn good online community manager.

Jill Tooley

Jill Tooley

Head of Content and Social Media, Quality Logo Products

Jill manages the content and social media departments at Quality Logo Products. She won't call herself an expert because she hates the sound of the word, but she loves using her favorite tools -- words -- to provide value in the marketing industry.
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Comments

amy_swanson
Posted on July 17th 2012 at 12:51PM

As a fan of 'TBBT', you did an excellent job on this blog, Jill! Leonard is such a great example of how community managers should be and you hit every point perfectly. My favorite point from your post is, "Tailor your response to the issue at hand." It's great to have a sense of humor, but there's a time and place for it. If I had an issue with a company the last thing I'd want is for them to be cracking jokes and making my issue seem minor and insignificant on their list of things to do that day. Respect your customers and you'll see them coming back to work with your company again and again!


Great post, Jill! I really want to go home and watch the entire season on my DVR, haha!

Jill Tooley
Posted on July 23rd 2012 at 12:19PM

Thanks, Amy! I love companies with a sense of humor, but like I said, there's a time and a place for everything. Jokes aren't really welcome in a crisis situation! Leonard is a pro at adapting his conversations to each of his friends. He's  not perfect, of course (in fact, sometimes he gets on my nerves), but he's a good friend and his end result is positive more often than not. I'd say that's a good role model! :)

mkilinskis
Posted on July 17th 2012 at 3:32PM

The fact that Leonard has been able to live with Sheldon for so long speaks volumes about his managing skills. Sheldon is, as you said, is an upset client, and Leonard has been taking the high road for years. The fact that he continues to be best friends with Sheldon and has grown his friend community means he's a great example for one's own community management.

 

Thanks for the great post and takeaways! 

Jill Tooley
Posted on July 23rd 2012 at 12:22PM

Thanks so much for the comment, and for reading my article! I know I wouldn't be able to live with Sheldon, so Leonard is almost a saint in that regard. From what I understand of the show, many-a-roommate abandoned Sheldon due to difficulties, so the fact that Leonard is able to manage him really says something. Sometimes, you need the right community manager to take care of a particularly stubborn customer (or friend)!

BretBonnet
Posted on July 17th 2012 at 4:20PM

I've only seen TBBT a few times, but I found it to be a very clever and well written TV show.

Only if I could convince my wife to watch the TV show... If I did, I'd watch it a lot more often than what I currently do now.

Anyway, it only takes ONE episode for anyone to recognize what a trooper Leonard is. You're indeed correct. He is the shinning example of what/how a community manager should operate.

Just don't go to him for parental advice. If I'm not mistaken, Leonard and his mom don't talk. They talk through Sheldon. Then again, your mom and dad shouldn't be talking to you on your corporate Twitter of Facebook accounts anyway! :)

Jill Tooley
Posted on July 23rd 2012 at 12:24PM

Thanks, Bret! It's extremely well written, and one of my favorites. And thanks for pointing out Leonard's lack of communication skills when it comes to his mother! You're absolutely correct. He may not enjoy talking to her, but he manages to squeak by...sometimes with the help of Sheldon (surprisingly), who seems to connect with her more. All that aside, though, we could all stand to be a bit more like Leonard! :)

viiworks
Posted on August 14th 2012 at 1:43AM

Being an online manager consists of being a leader, manager, marketing person, psychologist, mediator, etc. Yep, the role calls for many commitment and responsibilities. It's a good thing TBBT exists to help us address <a href="http://www.viiworks.com" target="_blank">online community</a> issues, which could also be applied to our personal lives.