Community Management Rules

A 101 Guide to rule as a Community Manager

Community Management is NOT content moderation. There. I said it. Facebook thinks that the work of the CMs is just to remove “bad threads”, but no. There is much more. A community manager is a leader steering the wheel of the community, building value from interactions and leading members to their objective. Which, by the way, could be to argue with each other, maybe about sports or politics and to have fun trolling new members. So here are the basic Community Management Rules, that help any CM to rediscover how beautiful this work is and to focus on the real duties.

1. Remember that you’re managing people

It’s easy to forget that you’re talking to people. A community always starts as a group of close and trusted people (main motivation to join, at the beginning, is the trust and affection towards the CM). But the more you proceed and grow, the more people tend to become numbers. This is because it’s natural to see statistics and not recognize the people behind them.

If you forget the people you can’t build a real relationship with your members, because you won’t participate, you won’t talk to them and more than anything, you won’t listen to them. No relationship, no leadership. No leadership, no community. Without a real relation with the members you’re just building a “bunch of people”.

2. Build trust

Trust is the base. A Community Manager must be a leader, and by definition, a leader must be trusted. Without the trust of the members, the community will lose the path to the common objective. People won’t do what asked and the community will split into groups that will eventually give no global contribution and move out.

You trust someone if:

  • You know that this person is working for your good (or a greater good). So be sure to be positive, helpful, happy with your members. Be honest, admit mistakes. “Do to others what you want them to do to you” says a famous book.
  • You’re sure that this person reliable and competent. So when an opinion is being given about some topic, you can be sure that it is something that you can trust. This means that, as a CM, you must admit when you don’t know something, but also you have to be competent on what you’re talking about.

Be their hero!

3. Be consistently relevant

This is strictly related to the motivation for a member to participate. Why should a member join and participate to your community? Because the members knows what can found in the community and how to contribute! Because it something funny, something the member is passionate about , or something he/she want to learn.

So be consistent with the mood of the community, with the topics you created, and with the types of content you post. It’s not bad to experiment or to change contents accordingly to members’ requests, but do not surprise them continuously. If you watch a news TV channel and they suddenly start programming half a day of movies you’ll get upset. Also if you’re watching a TV channel to see your favourite cartoon and they change the hour of the cartoon every two days you’ll get upset!

4. Set a purpose, not a plan

This is one of the hardest point to understand. Mr. Richard Millington on the first pages of his book “Buzzing Communities” says that if you force a top down objective on the community, you will cripple it. That’s true because it means that you’re not listening to your members, and if you’re rigid on your plan people, won’t like it.

Setting purposes is a game changer. You are leading them by giving a clear goal (for example to get better in a job or to deepen their passion), but not forcing their participation in a way they maybe don’t like. If you want to set a precise plan, it must be something that listens to members and changes accordingly to what they express.

5. Start small and take the time

Do not rush. For real. Take the time that is needed for the community to grow in a natural way. Members should be genuinely interested in what’s happening inside, because if you push them in, as soon you stop pushing (and you will) the community will crumble. To push people what in I mean by, for example, giving gift to the one who register or through massive marketing campaigns. Sure, you’ll have a lot of registered members, but once you are finished the campaign or members had the gift, either you have a clear purpose to keep them in or everybody will desert you.

So take the time to help everyone understand why they need to be in the community.

6. Lead by giving example

The golden rule is “people do what people do”. So a CM should at least participate actively in the community having the expectation of everyone else to do so.

This is true at the beginning, when members and activities are few and sparse, so the CM actions work both as an inspiration for members and as a new visitors magnet. It’s also true in advanced phases of the community lifecycle, when the influencer members are born in the community and are leading other members. The CM should be the top influencer. This is also the only way to really scale up the community management without losing grip on members.


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