Over the past ten years, my blog has offered many suggestions on community management strategy and operations best practices, as well as ideas for programs and lots of practical advice. But one thing we haven't done (until now) is look at community management from the inside out - from the community manager's perspective.
It's no secret that community management is one of the most challenging roles for a knowledge worker. Success relies on minute-by-minute mini decisions, driven by an overall strategy. Great community managers must be equal parts therapist, improv comedian, shepherd, and Navy SEAL. Yet, being great at something often depends more on the things we don't do, than the things we do. This is how we achieve rock-star status. And this is especially true of community management.
Here are the top 6 things rock-star community managers never do.
1. Never put business needs before community member needs. Community management relies on developing trust with members and helping them forge deeper connections with the community and with each other. That's why rock-star community managers always keep members firmly at the center of their community strategy.
2. Never put form over function. Many amazing online communities are developed on ugly tools or basic applications. The power and strength of successful communities is found in the human-to-human connection and the ability to bring valuable content and conversation to members. A cool application is a bonus, but rock-star community managers know that a slick interface that doesn't support the goals of the community makes for hollow community halls.
3. Never follow a script without adapting when needed. Templates and scalable best practices are the guardrails that keep larger communities on track. But prescribed approaches (even ones developed by community managers themselves) require some degree of flexibility. Rock-star community managers flex within the constraints to respond to the call of duty and accommodate human factors.
4. Never throw their members under the bus. The more strategic your community is to your organization, the more people within your firm will want access to its members and discussions. Rock-star community managers protect their members with vigor. They wouldn't think of releasing confidential information - even if it would help make a sale or quell a demanding executive.
5. Never say yes to everyone. The good of the whole is more powerful than the needs of one. While every thriving community has a squeaky member or three, it is the community manager's job to weigh requests and demands with a measured hand. Although it is easier to give in to aggressive members, rock-star community managers stand strong, explain well, and serve the entire community.
6. Never go without vacation or self-care. To continue as a solid idea generator and member caretaker, community managers need to feed their bodies and souls. Rock-star community managers make time for yoga, dog walks, trips to Belize, and drinks with friends - whatever it takes to weather the relentless demands of the role.
Are you a community manager? Know someone who is? Let's hear your take on what a rock-star community manager would never do?