Community management: can you really handle it?

Perhaps you have forgotten, in-between your unrivaled push to create the perfect content, that there is another, really important portion of the social media function that we are missing terribly

May 22, 2015

Perhaps you have forgotten, in-between your unrivaled push to create the perfect content, that there is another, really important portion of the social media function that we are missing terribly. It’s a portion that is as important as content, just a little more tedious to do, because unless you’re starting out in the industry, it’s about as important as a tin of Ricoffy in an agency pantry. You see, the trouble is, while you were birthing the perfect piece of tactical advertising, sat on your toilet scrolling through Twitter first thing (having woken up to news that a musician has died), you’ve forgotten something as important as wiping your bottom. It’s community management.

Wiping your bottom is gross, but it’s pretty important and, you probably wouldn’t let someone else do it for you (unless you’re the owner of a medium to large digital agency, people lick their arses so often it’s something that would more than likely happen by mistake on purpose). There’s a hashtag for that, I think.

Community management isn’t tough. You just need to know a little bit about the business and answer angry people’s posts about the fact that one of their cute children were not treated correctly at their local Checkers. The best community managers think, “Thank you for your question Ma’am, but why the actual Frank weren’t you looking after your own child?” but write: “Thank you for your question Ma’am, we will look into that for you and make certain we chat to the store concerned.”

It seams simple, doesn’t it? Have 40 of those thrown at you in one day while bouncing from brainstorm to brainstorm and the odd game of table tennis — it’s near impossible, it’s not a job for everybody. I have worked with great digital people. Some of them, those who lived social, were like community management gods. The important part of that sentence is the idea of living social — of being so deathly engrossed in the world of social that community management isn’t a chore and the brand isn’t a stack of dishes waiting to be washed — it’s their life.

I have worked with other community managers that I hope with all my heart, have looked into another industry or client service.

There are two very important aspects of community management, the first, is one we focus on, it’s the one that we believe is the primary function of the community manager, it is, but it isn’t. It’s as redundant as that last sentence. We have turned the community manager into a query resolution manager, basically cannon fodder. Let’s call this reactive community management.

Let’s give it a headline and let’s bold it.

Reactive community management

Fuck it, it’s really important. Let’s hammer the CAPS.


We are less familiar with our toothbrushes than we are with reactive community management. If you have complained, or seen someone complain on a social media channel, you have seen a community manager reactively engaging with an unhappy/happy person looking for answers.

There is another element to community management, one that’s more important. Specifically in a branding function, Let’s call it proactive community management. For formatting purposes we’re going to have to CAPS and bold it.


This is an art. This is for the community manager who is able to turn their keyboard into a piano and play it for an auditorium full of people, when there is no one there. This is a state of social media freedom that allows a community manager to label themselves a “creative”. It’s turning a post into a conversation and a conversation into a tapestry of insights. Insights into the community, a community of customers and people with a vested interest in your brand.

Proactive community management is the autograph from your favourite rockstar. It creates stories, brand stories, stories we’re so very interested in. It turns your social media channels into television channels. The kind of channels you can’t turn off.

Thanks to memeburn


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