4 New Year’s Resolutions for Online Community Managers
2012 is officially in the books. The holiday season has come to a close. Time to get back to reality. Over the past few weeks, community managers may have noticed a drop-off in user engagement. As people continue to come back to their routine activities on their laptops, tablets, and smart phones, community managers are afforded the opportunity to strategize and prioritize for the year ahead. Let’s take a look at a few resolutions that could help make running your online community in 2013 less stressful and more successful.
Develop a content strategy– Having a thought-out content strategy in place will alleviate a great deal of the anxiety and pressures that can come with community management. Focus on specific themes or industry facets that you feel will be engaging and relevant at the time scheduled. By laying out these plans in advance, you will be able to develop a robust pipeline of content to distribute and discuss with your community members. This will enhance your brand’s message consistency, as well as give potential customers a better idea of what your company actually has to offer. Of course, you should leave some time open for developing content relating to breaking industry or company news, but you cannot go wrong with having a general roadmap laid out.
Institute a crisis management plan– To build off the last point in content strategy, having a plan in place for how to conduct yourself online when a huge event occurs within your company or industry is always a good idea. A public relations disaster could happen at any time, and being unprepared will only exacerbate your business’ issues. Have a discussion with your team, laying out some of the more (relatively) plausible scenarios that could unfold, and how you should react. Issues such as product recalls, employee arrests, website outages, and misguided tweets/posts are all worth developing a response plan for. Going into these sorts of situations blind is a risky proposition.
Prioritize the networks you’re using– If you haven’t already examined your ROI on the various social media sites, forums, and blogs you frequent, now is a great time to do so. Map out the time spent on each versus the size of the audience and magnitude of engagement. Over the past year, the social media landscape has experienced a boom in the influence of visually driven sites such as Pinterest and Instagram. As I’ve discussed in this space before, visual content is only going to continue to grow in popularity. Over the past few months, the blogs or forums you visit may have experienced changes, it’s never a bad idea to search for new web hot spots. If your content distribution and engagement schedule is still the same as it was in January 2012, you probably need to reevaluate how you are using your time.
Engage offline– This resolution may sound strange for an online community manager, but going out into the world to engage can do wonders for your Internet endeavors. Offline interaction could include trade shows, networking events, or even an informal “tweetup” with some of your more active and engaged followers. In a 2011 blog, HubSpot explains why: “These events can inspire evangelists who will vouch for you as they get to know you better as a local company, and as they get to know you face-to-face.” Investing a little time and energy into these sorts of encounters can have a profound impact on the enthusiasm and energy behind your community.
Of course, it will not be easy for an online community manager to follow through these resolutions unless they are willing to devote time to implement them. It can be difficult to juggle the day-to-day tasks associated with community management and the high-level strategy some of these endeavors require, but by paying it forward, you and your company should encounter fewer headaches and more causes for celebration in 2013.