In nearly 10 years of working in various Community Management roles, I've heard and read a number of myths being perpetuated about what it's like being an Online Community Manager, even the sort of person the discipline attracts. With the growth in importance of the Social Media Manager role, some of these myths have also started surfacing around that field.
So, from the naive to the ridiculous via the insulting, here are 10 misconceptions about Community Management, and probably Social Media Management, that need to be put to bed already:
1. It can be done by anyone including interns
While some community management roles aren't complex, most of the time a good Community Manager will be someone who can look at the bigger picture interms of business objectives, while also balancing their deep passion for empowering their community in line with these goals. Relying on someone who owns a computer and likes chatting online will unravel very quickly.
2. We do nothing but chitchat all day.
Many Community Managers are well connected and active on Social Media and Networking sites, it's true. We are social creatures; most of us, anyway. However we use these tools to facilitate the mass of work we do managing our communities, not to idly shoot the breeze all day. You use the phone? We use Twitter.
3. You need to be a rockstar and highly visible personality.
While we do need to be visible to our online community and internally in our company, a lot of of what we do happens behind the scenes. We want our community members to engage with each other and the brand, and mange that flow of interaction. The focus is on them, not us. If you're looking for a figurehead and broadcaster for your brand, you might be better off with a Social Media Manager, but only if you are happy they take away some of the focus on your brand.
4. There is no return on investment.
I'll be posting more about this in the near future, but for the time being, let's just say if you can't see any return on investment for, you're not looking in the right places.
5. We are there to sell.
By nature of relying on the trust of our community to be effective, we cannot focus too hard on selling to them. A dash of PR, a squeeze of Marketing, a healthy squirt of Editorial Creation and a Diplomacy chaser. Shake well and you have a new discipline that is constantly evolving.
6. Everything we do is online.
Building a community online is a source of satisfaction due to the scale that you can reach compared to setting up a small local event and growing it over time. But the best way to create strong bonds between people is still by meeting face-to-face.
7. We are Nazi dictators.
I have been compared to Adolf Hitler, Robert Mugabe and Stalin amongst others in my time as a Community Manager. What do I have in common with them? Not much. Maybe a penchant for the occasional cigar.
8. That your community only exists and interact during office hours.
I wish this was true to an extent; it would mean I could switch off from work at 5.30 and watch the entire canon of Battlestar Galactica. Unfortunately I never seem to find the time to get round to it, because my communities and the internet lives 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It's a good thing I like them.
Hopefully I have addressed a few misconceptions about community management - can you add any more?