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Five Things Every Community Manager Should Be Doing (But Probably Isn’t)

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Take the Long View

A good community manager is something like a cross between a soldier (doing as she’s told, hitting targets, making calls on the battlefield) and a gardener (there’s a lot of heavy lifting and you have to get your hands dirty). The pressurised, real-time nature of the job means most of us are bouncing from campaign to campaign, too busy swatting aside goals and hazards to see the bigger picture: and that long view is where all the good stuff happens.
 
How do you get there? For starters, relax. Sit back, take a look at your analytics, talk to your client, line up your content calendars and think about the long term goal of your community. Then, slowly but surely, go from there.

Don’t Take It Personally

You’re a mouth and a smiling (though unseen) face for a brand, a nice guy who just happens to know all about a product or service that folks might want to know more about. Shucks, who could have a problem with that? As it turns out, lots of people do.
 
Every community has its pot shot-takers, flamers, trolls, unstable types and terminal malcontents and, yes, you’re their first and only target. Sustained nice-making with repetitive, negative people is enough to sour anyone’s milk, but just remember: they’re not caps lock-shouting at YOU, just your brand. Take a deep breath, put the kettle on and relax. And if that doesn’t work, print out their comments and tear them to shreds. That always helps us.

Stop Trying So Hard

All community managers feel a little quake of jealousy when they see a startling, hilarious piece of new content for the first time, but it often comes with a knee-jerk tendency to imitate or outdo the good work we wish we’d come up with, breeding flabby, derivative content in the process.
 
It’s like trying to become famous: you’ll only be famous if there’s something about you or your work that warrants attention. So stop trying to be the most clever, funny, shocking or cute content guy in the universe. Truly connect with your community to understand what they want – then create from there. 

Take Note

Picture the scene: it’s Saturday, you’re pottering around the city and a stray cat does a hand-stand in front of you. Incredibly, you’ve got your camera in hand. You’ve got the ultimate social object, but without a simple note to self, it’ll vanish from your Vine-addled mind in hours. When it comes time to compile a spanking new content calendar, you’ll want that kitty-cat on your side. Okay, maybe this example is a wee bit extreme but you get the idea – make some scribbles on any news item, image, comment, idea or article that could be used as great content for your community. You’ll thank yourself later.

Switch Off

All right, we admit this is impossible. Your friend who went off and became a surf instructor, the one who hasn’t checked Facebook in fourteen months? He can turn off. As a community manager you’re plugged in, invested, responsible and addicted to screen-skimming: you’re not going anywhere. Still, we have to try. Let Tweetdeck, Facebook scheduling, whatever management tool you use, do the work for a few evenings. Log out. Hide your phone. Read a book.