This is the last part in this series. It’s also the segment that caused the most discussion in the original post.
As a community manager, I work with advocates at a number of levels. And I think that as your social media program succeeds you’ll realize this also. Over time you’ll have those that are super advocates, others that are proponents & you’ll encounter brand influencers out on the web & in real life. So engaging the energy of these people should be allowed to grow dynamically.
Here are some suggestions for success:
1. Create a communication area (Jeremiah Owyang describes it as an Air Traffic Tower). This area serves as a place to:
- provide training material & contact information – this greatly eases the transition when more people are brought on board
- provide advance information on products, promotions, etc – it’s part of their perk
- provide feedback that they’re not comfortable sharing in front of the public, but it’s still worthy of discussion amongst the moderators
- get to know each other at a higher level than in the general public – I think this part is really important. If you’ve ever moderated forums it can be stressful at times. I’ve done enough tech support & customer service to realize that people can be really demanding (obnoxious?!). So it’s nice to be able to provide moral support behind the scenes & give atta-boys.
The easiest way to make this area is if you have forums, just create an area that only the forum moderators have access to. My sister & I use wikis & another set of forums to collaborate also. Bottom line is that it’s about communication & connecting.
2. Your strategy to work closely with your evangelists needs to be a delicate balance between:
- interacting closely with them but enabling them to engage fully with the community as they would naturally
- allow them to have ownership – there are so many benefits to this: when people in the community act inappropriately (attacking the product or the brand) then their peers will step in quickly. Anyone who values the community will take action. Whenever I see this occur I’m always proud of the sense of value we’ve created. You can empower people by:
- involving them in projects, planning & brainstorming – give them the objective & they’ll add the energy
- provide them with the resources as they need them & step back – no need to micro manage
3. Finally, thank them & reward them. This was always the most challenging part for me as supervisor in my last job too. I need to remind myself to express my gratitude to those I work with. In my last article on “10 Rules for Designing Social Networks“, Stephen commented that
establishing reward for participation is of the utmost importance. These can be social AND emotional as well as financial or knowledge-based. To define them, one must work hard to understand the motivations, needs and wants of the community. This very activity is at the heart of our own Planning stage of community creation.
Thanks Stephen, those are very valid points! People may be promoting your brand for various reasons. These people can get burned out so if you value their contributions make sure that they’re aware of it.
Well, that’s my overview of engaging proponents of our brand. It may sound complex, but it’s really quite easy & very gratifying. These people are your most valuable resources! Can you afford to not engage them?