Online communities grow to their greatest potential through the sustained efforts of a dedicated community manager. A community at its best should challenge both the members and the community manager to grow as thinkers and explore new avenues of ideas with one another. At Edelman Digital, we want members and managers alike to benefit by always introducing new perspectives to the ideation process.
My name is Chris Rooney and I’m excited to be your new community manager for EdelmanDigital.com. I believe that great community management is a little like improv: it draws the community’s participation, keeps the conversation fresh and “goes with the flow,” so to speak. That’s the style I try to imitate.
Here are three ways community managers should imitate improv actors:
Always say “yes”
In comedic improv, the best players always agree to new directions for the scene. They accept new perspectives and ideas, which keeps the conversation fresh and moving forward. Likewise, in community management, when a member of your community introduces a new perspective, run with it! You might be surprised by the interesting new directions the conversation can go.
Great improv players give generously to fellow players and the audience. There’s nothing worse than sharing an idea and seeing it rejected or even just lukewarmly accepted. Likewise, community managers should graciously encourage audience participation. Thank the audience for sharing their thoughts and opinions, ask questions and offer your reflections on their ideas—you’ll inspire great conversation.
Commit to the audience
As a community manager and improv player alike, you want the audience to connect with you and with each other. In the digital world, it’s too easy to detach from the conversation by never getting involved beyond the initial post. You want the audience to know that you have an interest in what they have to say and that you have your own thoughts as well, that you’re not just a brand mouthpiece. Commit to the community by participating, even when the conversation doesn’t specifically concern the brand. The members of your audience will keep talking to you in the long run.
I’m always looking for interesting views to cross-pollinate ideas across the Edelman network. Feel free to follow me on Twitter (@crooneys). Here’s to making new connections, sharing ideas and growing as a community. Thanks for having me on board!