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Why Are Community Managers Terrible Community Members?

Us community managers are, by our very nature, sociable beings.

It’s a fair assumption to make that anyone working in community management is ‘social media savvy’, likes engaging with others and, probably, enjoys writing.

So why is it that so many communities for community managers fail to ‘take off’?

So many Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups and so on dedicated to community management exist, and yet the majority seem to consist entirely of self-promotional links and spam, with little real engagement or value.

Why? What makes community managers so reluctant to participate in these groups?

Of course, firstly, it depends what you consider a ‘successful’ community. Is it based on the number of members? The percentage of lurkers? The number of discussions or threads? The number of views?

This was a topic recently discussed in one of the few community management groups that is successful, e-mint.

Many of the community’s answers mirrored my own opinion; that community managers spend so much time and effort managing their own communities, that they have little energy left to contribute to another.

As I said in a recent guest post for Yomego:

“Many community managers are themselves lurkers in the communities they manage – a sort of omnipresent entity, usually only dipping in when it is necessary to help, thank or advise members.”

Of course, it depends what type of community you are managing. The above does not apply to, say, Twitter, but might to a forum that you are moderating.

But, generally, whatever form their communities take, community managers are busy all day engaging with others, finding and sharing interesting content, and creating content themselves.

This means they are unlikely to have the time during the working day to participate in a CM-specific community, and when they get home, well, they might just want to ‘switch off’ from communities for a bit!

One of the e-mint members bemoaned the pervasive feeling that if you are not participating in communities or social media every waking hour, then you aren’t a ‘real’ or ‘good’ community manager.

Of course, this is not true; whilst most of us are passionate about what we do, everyone needs a break at times.

Plus, there’s always a feeling of ‘more can always be done’ when it comes to our own communities and content, so perhaps this is why we are lax at contributing to others – if we’re going to spend more time online, we might as well do it to benefit our own communities.

But, by not contributing and participating in other groups, we are missing a valuable opportunity to share our knowledge and experience, to help each other and those new to the profession.

But don’t despair, there are some good, and active, communities for CMs out there that can be a fountain of knowledge, as it were. Some ones worth taking a look at are:

  • e-mint – A group for all professionals involved in virtual communities. It also runs meetups and hosts the Virtual Community Summit, now in its second year. Once you get used to the slightly old-school format of the Yahoo! Group, you’ll find that the discussions are truly interesting and informative. No self-promoting spam, a la many LinkedIn Groups, here!
  • Thecommunitymanager.com – A great site with lots and lots of content about community management, by community managers. They also run the popular #cmgrchat on Twitter every Wednesday at 2pm EST time. You can see past chats here.
  • The WOMMA Community Management Council – A private Facebook group run by the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, where best practices and resources are shared. It’s in its early stages, but looks to become a useful source of advice and information.

Do you run or belong to any communities for community managers? Are you active in them? If we’ve missed a community that you think is useful, please let us know in the comments!