When you’re exploring community management, you’re held accountable to make an impact—but your responsibilities are much greater than your accomplishments.
Excellent community management boils down to being a fearless leader. Someone who is willing to explore uncharted territory. Astronaut John Glenn once famously said: “We are more fulfilled when we are involved in something bigger than ourselves.” The same can be said for community management; the future is unknown, but it’s prosperous and bigger than just one person.
As the leader of a community, you’re responsible for cultivating culture and empowering people. In one of the most famous studies conducted on community management, David McMillan and David Chavis found there are four consistent pillars that are the foundation of an advanced community.
1. Membership: A sense of belonging and feeling welcomed.
2. Influence: A sense that members can contribute to community issues. They must feel their perspectives are respected and appreciated.
3. Fulfillment of Needs:
The community should have opportunities to satisfy the members’ needs.
4. Shared Emotional Connection:
1. Establish TrustFirst and foremost, when managing a community you must be someone the community can trust. In the Harvard Business Review study, “10 Traits of Innovative Leaders,” researchers found effective leaders established what they call reciprocal trust. “Colleagues knew that their leader would cover their backs and not throw them under the bus if something went wrong. People were never punished for honest mistakes,” the study says. “People were never punished for honest mistakes.”
The same goes for your community members. As a community leader, you should be someone they feel they can confide in. You’re their number one ally. You want them to succeed.
2. Lead By ExampleIt may sound cliché, but it’s true. Many studies have shown that the best way to create the community you aspire to build is to lead by example. In a study by the University of Texas San Antonio, researchers found that a leader’s creativity and confidence is measurably contagious.
"A factor in this is the power of positive thinking," says Dina Krasikova, assistant professor of management at The University of Texas, in the study. "Leaders can imbue their subordinates with confidence and creativity just by setting an example themselves."
3. Create a Sense of BelongingIt’s only human nature to desire a shared emotional connection. In your community, this is what keeps the community alive. Your community suffers if there’s a lack of a sense of belonging, and a genuine emotional connection between members. As the leader, you must lead by example by creating and nurturing those relationships with community members yourself. What creates a sense of belonging though?
According to Dr. David Mcmillan, a feeling of acceptance, a common bond, and time spent together can create a healthy sense of belonging. It takes emotional investment, and time, to build an amazing community. Its success truly depends on the quality of the relationships.
If you have the time, check out his presentation from CMX Summit in 2014 here:
4. Strong Communication SkillsIn order to do all of the above, you must be an effective communicator. This means being a good listener, and being able to effectively communicate your message to your community members. According to a study by SANS Technology Institute, effective communication isn’t the main goal though. Effective communication should lead to a sense of understanding between you and your community members. This clearly ties back to our second point on the importance of creating a sense of belonging. A sense of belonging can’t be achieved if people feel misunderstood.
5. Know How to DelegateWe’ve talked a lot about the emotional side of effective community management, but the operational component is just as important. At Mobilize, we’ve seen companies grow their companies by simply getting organized and using the right tools. For example, Vinted—a peer-to-peer marketplace to sell, buy and swap vintage clothing—grew their brand ambassador program 115 percent after they started using Mobilize.
“When you have larger scale programs, that workflow just does not work. Even if you have only 20 bloggers that you need to coordinate with—and the next thing you know at the end of the day you have 300 emails while trying to make this or that happen— it was impossible,” says Ro Hensley, Vinted’s Community Ambassador.
Trust, being the example you wish to see, a sense of belonging, effective communication, and the right tools are bound to set you up for success in community management. Best of luck in your mission. We believe in you!
How have you succeeded in community management? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.