Managing a community is no small job. On any given day, a Community Manager may be tasked with dealing with difficult personalities, working to transform tough critics into brand advocates, or defending changes that the company has made to its product or service to meet growth goals.
Though you may actually side with your community rather than the company you work for from time to time, being able to calmly explain situations and updates while easing frustration and building trust is the heart of your role. Read on for three tried and true ways to harness the power of tough times to build trust with your community.
1. Tackle tough topics head-on and with a consistent message. Nowadays, messages of discontent came come from several public places, like social media, in user forums, or even in blog comments. Before jumping in to respond, arm yourself with all of the information you need from relevant colleagues and gather fellow public-facing teammates to align your responses. Then, divide and conquer by sharing a consistent message across relevant community channels. Inconsistent or inaccurate responses can be almost as disastrous as the original issue.
Remember that darting around the issue generally doesn’t do much good, so be as transparent as you possibly can. Your empathy and honesty will do wonders for your credibility while providing your company with a truly human face. You might not be able to fix the problem immediately, particularly if it’s business or technically focused, but you can always listen and answer questions to the very best of your ability. If you do this consistently, you’ll build trust with your community and inspire productive conversations among members.
2. Be as responsive and genuine as you possibly can. Think of a time when you were frustrated and ask yourself: Was there any feeling worse than waiting for an update? Whether it was a status update on a refund, a workaround for a bug or a missing payout, it’s safe to assume that simply getting a response with an estimated status for a fix took much of anxiety away.
Provide the same relief for your customers or users. Though it can be hard to answer every one on one communication, like emails or tweets, be sure to stay up to date with relevant teams to provide valuable and timely updates in public places whenever they’re available. Your community will appreciate it and grow to trust you and the company more. Foster healthy discussion among the community that generates action items for you to take to cross-functional teams and use the improvement as a silver lining that helps build trust. Recognize and highlight members who help shine a positive light on the situation.
3. Advocate for your community. The golden rule has never been more applicable, so “treat others as you want to be treated.” By showing community members respect and kindness, they’ll not only grow to trust you and hopefully give it back in spades, but also begin to show the same toward one another.
How can you give respect to community members? Other than connecting with them to provide help and support or by inviting them to valuable pilot programs or events, you can advocate for them within the company. This might mean suggesting new features that make their experience better, airing frustrations around operations with your broad organization, or even coming up with guidelines that encourage better interactions among members. Show the community your hard work by letting them know what you’re doing on their behalf and how they can help you. Since there’s often strength in numbers, customers and users will be motivated to band together to help you see changes through. It might take time but the trust will grow and you’ll have a stronger community than ever.
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