January 27, 2020
Community Managers are the heart of any active online community. Whether internal or external-facing, we Community Managers are often the face of the community, which gives us the opportunity to be the first to welcome members in, curate the best content, build relationships and foster engagement -- being a CMGR is awesome!
However, the flip side of this is that as the face of the community, we are the first person members come when there is an issue, when they are not getting the answers they need or can't find something, when they need a training session for the team in Australia (which is 3am for you <snoozy emoji>). Basically, you're the go-to person anytime something is "broken" or "wrong" or just "really, really, reallllly frustrating." Managing an online community may sometimes seem as though you always have to be on, connecting with your community members and being their go-to when something (...anything!) comes up. For just one person, this can be a lot and contribute to burn out.
As CMGRs, we love our jobs and see the power in community, so while stepping away and taking an offline break is, of course, a good idea, we wanted to share a few ideas from our team on how you can set your self up for success, prevent burn out and of course in the theme of #CMAD2020, practice self-care.
1. Build up your Advocate Network.
Creating and fostering an advocate team is always a great community engagement strategy, and something we always encourage our clients to do. But having a strong advocate network (champions, power users, etc.) can also help to carry the load of community management. Sometimes the best feeling is when you get a notification for a question, and by the time you get there, another member has answered it! Empowered advocates can help to answer questions, build out pages, create content, and show other members how to be successful in the community, giving you more time to focus on other tasks and projects.
2. Turn off your notifications.
Ok, maybe not completely, but at least be strategic about what is pinging your computer, tablet, phone, etc. If all of your devices are constantly notifying you every time something new is posted, it is not only difficult to manage but also hard for you to determine what is a priority and what isn't. Most community software platforms let you customize the types of notifications that ping you and where (e.g. push notification vs email), so figure out what works best for you and your workstyle so you can manage your life. Be strategic on what gets to interrupt you (and what doesn't!).
3. Don't answer the same questions multiple times.
We've all been there. Someone asks a question, and then not even an hour later, you're being asked the same question by someone else. Instead of having to type out a reply to each of these inquiries from scratch each time, leverage the power of your community and its knowledge-sharing capabilities and functionality. Direct people with questions to a dedicated area in your community with Q&As, tutorials, training videos, etc. There they will be able to search for and find answers without having to dig through content in multiple places or groups. If you notice other questions/resources posted in other places across the community, move them to your dedicated resource area so they are easy to find.
What about that one person who's always asking questions via email? Encourage them to post in the community - if they have a question it's likely that others in the organization have the same question. By making it public, not only will they get their answers, but they'll be helping others with the same questions too. And if someone does ask a question you've already answered (even with a Getting Started group we all know it happens!) instead of typing out a full response, simply link them to the other thread with the same information. You'll save yourself time while also encouraging your members to use and engage with the community more.
4. Post a Gif.
No seriously! Sometimes members are frustrated, or it takes a bit longer to find an answer than they expect, while not ideal...it happens. Communicating online via a community thread (or any online format) sometimes loses a bit of the human element - so break the tension with a virtual "smile" by adding something light (where appropriate of course). Thanking a member for their patience with an issue - who on the internet can resist a cat meme?
5. Ask for help.
While we think community managers are awesome, you might not know the answer to all the things. Reach out to your team, your advocates or your expanded community manager network. As Community Manager Advancement Day shows, there is a community of community experts who are also awesome.
What other tips do you have? Let us know on twitter by tagging #CMAD2020 and mentioning us @social_edge!