Best Practices: Community Managers on Twitter
Twitter can be a difficult nut to crack for many community managers. The site has shown continual growth in terms of both daily users and tweet volume. While this is great news for those who subscribe to the mantra, “be where your audience is,” it also means that you are competing with a LOT of noise for a user’s attention. It is important for community managers to remember that they are trying to develop a community, not simply get as many followers as possible. Have patience while growing your followership and remember: it will not be an overnight process. Here are a few best practices for how to cultivate a community that will hopefully produce brand evangelists and new customers!
Testimonials are great—in moderation: There is absolutely nothing wrong with the occasional retweet of somebody singing your praises. However, I’ve seen far too many business’ newsfeeds cluttered with testimonials to the point where finding useful content is an actual challenge. This is the sort of activity that will have individuals rushing to click the “unfollow” button. Rather than retweeting ALL of the positive feedback you receive, leave a personal reply or “favorite” the user’s tweet. This will let your followers know you appreciate their comments without flooding other the feeds of other members.
Be transparent: When asked, “What makes a good community manager,” Phoebe Venkat, a community manager whose resume includes stops at ADT and Tyco, replied: “Number one most important characteristic is to be 1000% transparent.” Deleting negative comments or getting overly defensive will not do you any favors. If a community member has an issue that you cannot resolve, don’t simply ignore it. Pass it along to somebody at your company who CAN resolve it, and make sure to follow up. Often, a customer who has had a negative experience and was blown away by the company in question’s response will become a vocal proponent of your brand.
Keep your personal and work Twitter accounts separate: One of the riskiest things that a community manager can do is manage a Twitter account from their smart phone. While it makes sense to keep tabs on your pages “on the go,” the potential for a PR issue is high. Think back to last November’s KitchenAid scandal for an idea of how it can go wrong. If your community manager handle is in your name, you should keep a separate profile for communicating with friends and family. Tweeting about politics, religion, etc from a work-associated account is a disaster waiting to happen. If you absolutely must have work and personal accounts available on your phone, you better be extremely careful about which profile you are posting from.
Community managers, do you adhere to these practices? Have you ever encountered an issue relating to one of the three practices discussed? What’s the first piece of advice that you would give to a new community manager?