Happy Community Manager Appreciation Day!

If you’ve seen the #CMAD hashtag trending on Twitter all day and wasn’t sure what it means, then here’s the answer: today is Community Manager Appreciation Day (CMAD).

That’s a thing? Why, yes it is.  Celebrated every fourth Monday of January, CMAD was launched in 2010 by Jeremiah Owyang to acknowledge the efforts of online community managers around the world. It can be a tough job. As Sheldon Levine wrote for the Sysomos blog, a community manager is essentially the bridge between his or her brand (or organization) and, well, everyone else. “At any given time you can find a community manager acting as the PR, marketing, sales, customer service and voice of a brand all at the same time,” Levine wrote. “Today is the day we give them thanks.”

Therefore, in recognition of CMAD, I thought I’d share five tips to keep in mind to be an effective community manager:

  • Be passionate about your brand or organization. We all know this. If you’re not passionate about your own community, neither will your community members.  Whenever you communicate to the public about your community (which is multiple times a day), they’ll be able to get a sense of your passion or lack thereof.
  • Speaking of which, effective community managers must have strong communication skills.  This shouldn’t come as a shock. After all, in the digital sphere, community managers are the eyes and ears of the brand in the public’s mind. They’re the golden ambassadors. Therefore, they should be able to articulate the brand’s messaging in a clear and compelling way. And they should be able to tailor and adapt the message, depending on the target audience, and kind of content you’re producing (whether it be a blog post, tweet, Facebook post, photo or video).
  • Did I mention audience? Oh yeah. Know your audience. Your community managers are individuals. They have different and beliefs, and they each probably get something different out of being involved in your community. So, put yourself in their shoes. Think about your community’s value to them (or ask them!) and make that a factor in your engagement.
  • Engage with your members and be transparent! Members want to feel that they’re being valued and heard within the community. In last week’s #cmgrchat, which focused on audiences versus communities, one of the points put forth was that if you simply put content out, you have an audience – not a community. Communities are when there’s interaction between members. Poll them, host Q+As or ask them to submit content. Make them feel valued. And if someone posts a negative comment, don’t delete it. Take the time to formulate an answer.
  • And finally, strategize and be results-oriented.  Know what goals you want to achieve and have a communications plan with strategies on how to achieve them. And remember to constantly analyze your efforts. Think about what’s working and what isn’t.

Okay, I lied – I have one last piece of advice. Learn from other community managers about best practices. There are, in fact, communities for community managers. There’s #cmgrchat, the weekly Twitter chat every Wednesday at 2PM EST for community managers; and there’s also a weekly Google+ hangout for community managers every Friday at 2pm EST with Tim McDonald, community manager for HuffPost Live, the Huffington Post’s streaming video network.

Here’s one set of best practices – “A Collection of Community Management Advice,” an ebook, curated by TheCommunityManager.com and Marketwire, which offers some great advice for community managers. You can also download it here.

As increasingly more organizations go digital, there’s an even greater need for community managers to help manage those spheres. And it can be a pretty demanding job. So, if you have a community manager, give them a hug today – or a cookie.

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