Community Manager Response: There is no such thing as status quo

Often, I am asked about my typical day on the job…or what I enjoy about being a part of a community team. As I and my fellow co-workers have posted before, the job is not a walk in the park. There is nothing typical about my day, but it is very tempting to get into a response groove and forget about the changing ecosystem. It appears I was meant to end 2010 learning this lesson the hard way.

Undoubtedly, by now, you have noticed the rise of Q&A site, Quora. It is not LinkedIn, nor Twitter. This site, just like every other, follows the beat of its own drum. The rhythm is the product of a unique community. The beat today will not be the same beat as next week or next month.

After having my response collapsed, I stumbled across this post by Lucretia M Pruitt, Welcome to Quora. Do Yourself a Favor & Slow Down.

And I did just that. Now, take a break and read Lucretia’s post.

Heard it before, right? But how many of us “know” what we are doing and react with a knee jerk response? Admit it, at one time or another, all of us do. As new social channels pop up daily, we scramble to find relevancy or be the first in the comment stream. We have to slow down and assess the environment and the participating community. Being part of the community team is not to prove how informed I think I may be, but to be a resource or a connector when appropriate. My role changes constantly. Adaptability paired with reflective critical thought is more important than what you may have hidden away in your bag of tricks.

Instead of thinking of how many social channels can I participate in, think about how should you be participating in those communities…if you should be there at all. Take this much needed breather to assess how you respond and why. It is expected organizations should be listening, but active engagement expectations are shifting. We are walking a response tight rope.

Does this sound familiar? You walk into a store and immediately a store representative approaches you, “How may I help you?” Irritated, you brusquely reply (if you even acknowledge the person) you are only looking. The representative retreats into the shadows of the clothing racks. You know they are still there, making you even more aggravated until your thoughts are once again consumed with the task at hand, shopping. You spot a black cocktail dress. Just what you were looking for! But wait…they don’t have it in your size! You look around, desperately for the representative, but they are nowhere to be found. You forget they were ready to help you five minutes ago and you waved then away. No, instead, you are even more furious. You rush out the store and tell all your friends about the horrible store experience and rude employees.

It is all relative…all a matter of perspective. Community teams walk this tight rope each day. Of course, the above example was a horribly gross dramatization, but it is reflective of the situation we now face with online response in a maturing space. A brand is expected to listen to existing conversations, is expected to answer to the community, but on the terms of the community. One must always be aware of the frequently evolving beat of each community on relevant channels. Take a break. Slow down, Cowboy. There is no such thing as status quo.

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  • Lucretia M Pruitt

    My post was a little cranky for most people. I’m so glad that something this good arose from it.

    I’m just as likely to be that customer in the store that you mentioned – but I try not to be.

    I love the fact that you look at this from a Community Manager position. Communities are so dynamic, because they aren’t stuck in the status quo.

    Love this post.

  • Lauren

    Tone is relative. :) It was what I needed at the time I needed it. I have had a lot of run-ins lately about online tone, so don’t feel singled out. I am constantly having to assess the people, attitude and channel minute by minute!

    Also, I can be that customer too…I find that relating mainstream challenges to current online issues helps to get past all the fluff and examine root of problem and why the matter persists. Communities, just as the position of Community Manager, are dynamic…as humans it is hard to stay on pace with the rate of evolution.

    Thank you for the compliment and RT!

  • Jamie Favreau

    I totally agree. I think people need to know what each network does but to join them when you are probably NOT going to use them. It is a waste of time and NOT everyone has to jump on the bandwagon because everyone else is doing it. You need to find your niche and where they are and if it involves the shiny object then so be it. But until then study it and see how it works from another perspective. Not everyone is going to be an early adapter and most people aren’t.

  • Chris

    Great points about adaptability and the need to be insightful and thoughtful when working in a community. It’s what can make the difference between being a technical outsider or worse -an obstacle – and being a driver of engagement and vibrancy. That’s why at Communispace our community managers are referred to as Facilitators and not “moderators” – a small signal underlying a greater philosophy, an important part of how we keep our communities healthy, interested, and focused on members needs and expectations.