in Community Management

Be Honest, Do You Like Everyone In Your Community?

Photo cred: Kaitlyn Kalon

At the #cmgrchat yesterday, I got into this debate with other community managers.  Some people believed that a community manager doesn’t have to pretend to like and engage with some members of their community.

Really?  So you’re telling me if you didn’t have your community manager job over there at your company, you’d still sincerely enjoy interacting with ALL of these members of your community?!

Even the creepy ones?  Even the assholes? Even the trolls?

Now I’m not saying it’s impossible to develop real relationships with people in your community.  If you’re not making any real relationships in the end, then you’re probably in the wrong line of work.

To say that you sincerely care about, and enjoy interacting with, EVERYONE in your community sounds like a load of crap.  There are always going to be people who you usually wouldn’t care for, that you have to engage with because it’s your job.

I’m not talking about the will to help people.  It’s possible to love helping people…although I still find it hard to believe that you enjoy helping every troll and asshole that talks trash about you and your company.

I’m talking about the concept of “engaging” or “building relationships”.  Dare I say… a lot of the people that we engage with in our “personal” professional community aren’t people we’d usually interact with.  We do it, because it can help our careers in the future.

A good community manager isn’t really building relationships for themselves, they’re building that connection to the brand and the rest of the community.

As a community manager, you are a representative of your company.  All of your job related interactions should respect that fact.  You’re not engaging with people for yourself, you’re engaging with people for your company.

So in the end, you have ask yourself… would my company want me to engage with this person?


  • JanetAronica

    We’re debating this? You’re talking to some people because you’re getting a paycheck! Doesn’t everyone know that? It’s not that you’re a bad person, it’s just your job… Of course you do build real relationships along the way. It’s just the same as how I have made real friends in the office. But then again, there are some people you only talk to at the office because you work with them, and when you absolutely have to. You’re getting paid to do a job in my opinion.

    • DavidSpinks

      @JanetAronica does that mean that our job is to manipulate?

    • JanetAronica

      @DavidSpinks No, I don’t think that it’s our job to manipulate. I think that the best example I can point to is someone who was the Dir. of Community for a well known social media monitoring service who was @ a conference, and people where asking her to give them her “objective opinion” on the service at the demo table. She was like, “I’m on payroll, bitches!” Same thing here is what I’m trying to say. Yes, I’m talking to you at a Tweetup, Twitter, our forum or LinkedIn. But I’m still on payroll. There may be many I actually do become real life friends with but there are going to be some community members that I communicate with not because we’re best friends but because they are community members and I’m getting paid to manage that community.

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  • erob1

    This is an excellent topic to bring up Spinks, and I have to agree with you right here: “a lot of the people that we engage with in our “personal” professional community aren’t people we’d usually interact with. We do it, because it can help our careers in the future.”

    We’ve been told to be real, we’ve been told to be social, and it’s a fact of life that in any real-life social situation, there are going to be people that you don’t like or don’t want to talk to, and it’s no different online. What’s important is that we handle those situations with decorum and respect. You don’t have to like someone to be respectful to them. Especially if you’re lucky enough to be a paid community manager.

    Props for bringing this up sir!

    • DavidSpinks

      @erob1 Hell yes. And you don’t have to be friends with someone in order to interact and collaborate professionally.

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