Web care Archetypes: The Performers

Situation

It doesn’t have to be all too serious on social media, however there might be a thin line between added value and entertainment. The performers are on stage constantly or at least they perceive it this way. Even one on one interactions are carried out as a stage performance with a huge audience. It is fun, snarky or opportunistic. As long as there is a round of applause and attention they are completely OK with doing anything on social media.

O2 might be one of the best examples since they combine their opportunistic worldview (everybody can become a customer) with a highly personalised approach on answering some tweets

Another classic is of course this video by Bodyform as a response to one of their customers.

Analysis

Everybody wants to be a performer, however not everybody is a great performer so there might be a risk that you become the subject of your own joke. Also something to keep into account is that even though people most often like entertainers they do not always trust them with their business. Somebody who is joking all the time how will they handle the client business, will it be treated as just another joke? Therefore balance is important and in this case O2 has this balance between performing, being opportunistic and also doing some more serious service work.

There is always the question on why a performer performs, is it because he likes to entertain people and give them a good time, or is there a more selfish motive and is it the performing wanting your attention so he or she will feel good. If you are only using the questions and complaints of your customers as an excuse to get on stage and grab the attention it is just making fun on somebody else’s expense, which isn’t a very sustainable approach.

How to make it better

Compared to the other archetypes it is hard to define the performer as an archetype that is doing something really wrong. Of course some performers might have their flaws as described above: they might be having fun on their customer’s expense, they might be just focused on getting the spotlight on themselves no matter what and if that means that they also have to do a bit of service than it just has to be done.

Balance is the thing that is important while being a performer, the real performers perform when they have to or want to, not whenever they can. It is striking the ideal balance between business value and performance and the business value of a good performance could be lowered marketing and acquisition costs. Key is to measure the business value of your performance, unless you are selling tickets for your performance than the amount of tickets sold is your business value.

Web care Archetypes: The Dodger

Situation

Most insurance organisation get requests or claims with the expectation that they will just pay the bill. Most often these claims get approved, sometimes it is disapproved. Which is just fine, since there is a certain process in place with certain criteria one should follow. However not everybody always agrees with the disapproval of a certain claim and these people ask the insurer to review the claim once again (most often leading to the same outcome, since the same criteria are used).

However sometimes people do not complain to the insurer in private, but on social media out in the open. In this case there was much havoc on social media, causing the insurer to re-evaluate the decision they made earlier and make a 180 degree turn and all of a sudden approving the treatment. Which was rather peculiar since there was complaint raised earlier in private which had no impact on the decision made earlier by the insurance company.

Analysis

If this is the behaviour you showcase then you train your customer that if they whine more, they get more. It shows that your processes are very random and that you have to appeal. If you appeal you know you might be lucky to have a different outcome than you had before. Also people see that if they move in large groups towards you, you are very likely to change any decisions made in the past into the favour of the opinion of the large group.

So basically everything you had in place as a process has become useless since you turn as a leaf as soon as big groups are moving towards you and now that people know that, they will do it more often. Resulting in that you recall decisions even more often or even change your process in something you didn’t want it to be, just for the sake of avoiding having an angry mob as your main audience.

In short: it is just a matter of time before you go bankrupt since people will be pushing the boundaries on every decision you have made in the past.

How to make it better.

It is not about treating your (potential) customer as king, it is about having a clear vision / view on what you do and what you don’t do and to be able to be 100% transparent on this. The main reason you created this business was not to become the popular kid in the class; insurers never are the popular ones, since you pay them a lot of money for nothing most of the time, since most often the anticipated risk just doesn’t happen. You created this business to help others in the time they need it most.

If you start using your customers as your number one guidance, meaning that you ignore your vision you had upfront, you might be getting an issue. Since most likely your customer would like to see that, in case your are an insurer, you pay more claims for their friends. Though they rather prefer not to have a tenfold increase in fees to make this happens. Either you are the bad guy if you cannot be transparent on this.

Therefore be transparent. Show what you want to do with your company, show how you are doing it and why you are doing it this way. However remember that it is your company and that even though there are many smart people outside your company you can ignore them if they do not fit the vision you have had with your company. If you treat your customer as king, you might end up as peon. The worst thing that might happen when being stubborn and transparent is that you might end up with the customers you deserve.

Web care Archetypes: The Fashionistas

Situation

Some of the archetypes I would like to start with a personal story and this is one of them:

Every time I want to check in online for certain flights on my iPhone it fails. My next action is to tweet the airline whose app is failing me with the message that I cannot check in. They always ask me to send them a DM with some details of my flight. After that they ask me what chair I would like to have and after that, everything is done and I am ready to go out and fly.

This has happened now like four or five times and the app has had many updates in the mean time, though none of the updates solved the issue that I, and based on the messages on Twitter, many others have. However they still seem to be very happy to help me with the same issue over and over and every time when I asked when the issue will be fixed there is some vague answer. Not only does it cost me more of my time since checking in via Twitter is not very efficient, somebody from the airline is also spending some minutes on doing something that should be handled by the passenger himself.

Analysis

Web care is more a goal on itself than a mean to accomplish something in this case. Fashionistas in Web care just do stuff because it makes them looks good on the short term, not because it serves the business on the longer term. This specific company I am talking about is very proud of the fact that they have 60 people working full time around the clock seven days a week making sure every question asked on social media is answered within the hour.

When we translate this ‘accomplishment’ into a real business issue: there are so many questions raised by their customers that they spend 3 million euro (at least) on answering them, not on fixing the root cause of the questions so they won’t occur again. Their Web care team is actually the duct tape to hide their poor service with regards to information or functionality int he first place and they keep on focusing on how shiny the duct tape is instead of a focus on solving a real business issue.

How to make it better

The most simple improvement Fashionistas such as this organisation could make is to do an analysis on what the questions are that they are already answering and take follow up actions on these types of questions. Since answering questions really fast might seem to be very good, solving the real issue is even better. Using the questions produced by customers you exactly know what things needs your attention first and where your focus should be.

Also if there is a customer with a repeating question time over time, this might be an impeding issue as well. So they should not only measure the intensity of certain topics, but also the intensity of topics per customer. Since overall trends might show a business issue, however a customer that have to reach out to you over and over might end up in a loyalty crisis.

The second improvement that they should do is to connect the Web care activities to real business goals. Answering questions within an hour doesn’t help the business, increasing customer satisfaction might help you business, reducing questions while at the same time increasing customer satisfaction might even be a better goal. Don’t end up using vanity metrics, use you real business metrics.

6 Ways to Improve your Web Care

What is the easiest way to improve the performance of your Web care activities? It isn’t buying a new tool, or redecorating the room of the Web care team, it is about doing it differently than you are doing it today. Small changes can make a big difference. Here are six ways you can improve your existing Web care and make a bigger impact on your business.

1. Get to the people who have passion

It might sounds contradictory compared to other articles on this site, though consider making Web care not a full-time job. Make it an extra task to the existing work people are already doing. By doing so you get a selection of people who really like to do this and don’t mind investing their time into it. Passion is something that cannot be faked, and will generally create one of the best customer experiences. Do not limit this extra task to a single department, Web care is not only a marketing or service only activity, somebody from R&D or operations can be also a very valuable part of this team and provides your customers with a complete different perspective though with the similar passion as other people in your organisation.

2. Fix the basics

There is no use in doing Web care if your basic customer service is poor and/or if your product is poor.  If you go out in the outside world, you better make sure that everything inside your company is working well enough since everything that doesn’t work  right will be exposed. Therefore make sure that you can be transparent about the way you are working, if you are not able to do so, there is no use in trying to fake your presence on Social Media since in the end your broken and non-transparent processes will surface and will leave you exposed and more damaged than before. Fixing the basis is very important before starting something new.

3. Being pro active solves stuff before it becomes an issue

The reactive approach is the most common way of doing Web care, however you are too late when you have to respond to a question. What you want to do is to prevent that this question even has to be asked at all, you don’t want your Web care to be just like duct tape fixing the holes of your poor services on an ad hoc basis. Use the information that is already out there and shared by users in their conversations as a strategic advantage and use it to become more pro active by providing information before the question is asked and by fixing issues before they really become an issue.

4. Make it an activity not a department

Creating a Web care department is almost an instant recipe for failure. It creates a distinction between what you already are doing in your organisation in reaching out to your customers and what the Web care department will be doing on their own. By making it an extra activity you will get more integration and consistency. Also you prevent the endless channel switching customers sometimes experience. Employee A from channel X dumps the customer to another channel with another employee just for the simple reason to meet its KPI of handling a complaint within a certain amount of time or interactions.

Integrating it as an activity in existing roles prevents the channel-switching and focuses more on the journey of the customer and solving it in the first interaction. If you can add the passion as described in the first point to it, you have a set of brilliant of employees who will do a great job for your organisation.

5. Connect to a business goal

Web care is not a stand alone activity, it is even a real thing within a company. It might be service, it might be sales, it might be marketing, however it is just a digital way of executing (parts) of your current processes. Therefore Web care shouldn’t have standalone goals, it is not about how great you are on Twitter, how much engagement you generate on Facebook or how quick you respond to questions. It is about your business and to be serious about Web care or better phrased: to be serious about Social Business, you should link it to one of more business goals. This will help you to escape the vanity metrics trap and will help you in transforming your business.

6. Stop doing Web care

Don’t think that your organisation has the monopoly to deliver Web care on your products and services. It is rather sad if your organisation seems to be the only one that is caring about your products and services. So why not mobilise your customers and make them your first line of support? It is clear that there is huge benefit if you have a customer army available that is helping you in managing your social media channels and provide answers on questions. It provides you with a highly scalable solution, since most companies will have more customers than employees.

Web care Archetypes: The Firefighter

Situation

Some of the archetypes I would like to start with a personal story and this is one of them:

There was a service disruption of our TV signal. Since we are getting used to using Twitter as a service channel (sometimes the only way to get some decent service), my wife decided to sent out a tweet to our provider of our TV signal. Since my neighbour has a triple play subscription with the same provider (since he not only lacked a TV signal, but wasn’t able to call and didn’t had an internet connection) he too send out a tweet.

Seven hours later when I arrived home nor my wife nor our neighbour had received a reply, while in other situations they would have received a reply. So I decided to send out a tweet and within minutes I got a reply back from them, with just the message they we working really hard.

The next morning I contacted them again and asked if they could provide me a deadline when there work would be finished and when they could inform me about a refund. When I asked my neighbour what he would do with the money of the refund, he told me they hadn’t reach out to him and he didn’t hear anything about any refund. In the end he didn’t got a refund. It was like the provider just forget that my neighbor was paying five times more than I am for my subscription. However I was just of the few, more influential, customers that tweeted and got a refund.

Analysis

A spark neglected makes a mighty fire.  

Robert Herrick

When things are getting busy, you need to focus, that is the thing this provider probably did: focus on the people that could create damage on the short run. Given that I am more influential than my wife or my neighbour (at least on vanity metrics such as Klout, Kred and Peerindex), they might give me a higher priority. However they forgot about certain other important things. First of all my wife is journalist, I would say that is one demographic you want to maintain a good friendship with. Second of all is that my neighbour has the premium package and is paying way more for his subscription than we do. Third of all is that I told them in the past that if I had any opportunity to switch that I would so. It is not like giving me a refund would make me stay for any longer than I should have to.

Basically they made a decision on too little variables to just reach out to me. Both my neighbour and my wife noticed that they were ignored while they saw that I got a reply within minutes. It provides a whole different meaning to the word customer experience.

How to make it better

The key change that has to be made in this case is to know your customers better and make sure you treat everybody as equal as you can, or as important as they really are for you. In this case there was a disturbance of service in a couple of streets, people who live in streets together tend to talk with each other. Not taking that specific piece of geographic information into account is making it yourself very difficult, since conversations happen not only online.

In this case the focus is on the wrong people: importance is more than a Klout score. A small analysis just on names showed that me and my neighbour were both complaining, and since we are neighbours we are likely to be in touch with each other. Basically there is a need for better information and perhaps even a bit of workflow automation so decisions are made on data instead of on gut feeling and some arbitrary numbers.

It is important to have the context available, instead of just having a single tweet and a single number. N=1 is a sample size that is too small.

Web care Archetypes: The Schizophrenic

Situation

Some of the archetypes I would like to start with a personal story and this is one of them:

We ordered a solarium at a post order company. All went fine until one of the lamps broke down. Those things can happen so we contacted the customer service of this company and they told us they would fix this quickly. After two weeks, which we don’t consider as ‘quickly’, we decided to contact them again. Again the promise was that the service department would contact us almost immediate to make an appointment to fix it.

After a few days we decided to send out a tweet which triggered a very fast response and the Web care department called us. They discovered that they had the wrong phone number in their systems and changed it and after that it seems fine. However the service department, which was in a different silo so it seems, didn’t got an update on the new phone number and still tried to dial the old number. In the end, after some more tweets back and forth it was fixed, though the speed on how things were moving forward depended on which department we were talking with.

Analysis

This is the typical example of a company in which the Web care team has a bigger mandate than the traditional service desk. Or at least the Web care team can go the extra mile instead of a typical call centre that tries to make you hang up the phone after 1 minute and 27 seconds, since then they could do 40 calls per hour which is so great for their productivity. This also results that you not only hang up the phone, but also hang up on the company.

However the call centre in this case might not be performing below average in their market, the Web care team creates the perception that this call centre is just a poor performing piece of legacy that is always out performed by the fresh and the new: the Web care team. Just because they are allowed to do so much better.

Even though this establishes the much desired switching of channels by the consumer, since serving somebody via social media is often cheaper than serving somebody via a call centre, this is not a sustainable approach to make sure the switch on long term. The only reason your customer switches is because they are being mistreated in one channel and treated like kings in another channel. Not everybody will make the switch, since not everybody is willing to go for a second try on a different channel.

Again this is you losing clients by having a very schizophrenic approach towards service: cheap in the call centre and royal in the Web care channel.  The bitter taste of poor quality lingers long after the sweet taste of low price is forgotten. Having a great Web care is seldom really great on the long run in this case.

How to make it better

Fire your Web care department and integrate it with your existing service department / call centre. There is no need to differentiate these two, especially not in a way that ends up in a service schizophrenia. Make sure that all your service and care activities are aligned and have similar KPIs. If one group of people needs to solve issues within 2 minutes and the other group of people just have to make sure it is being solved, you create different experiences and your customers will notice. Don’t glorify the service department, since basically all they do is correcting failures that occurred in an earlier process and bother the customer, however empower them so they can work with the rest of the organisation to make sure those failures won’t happen again.

Call centres traditionally strive to a 100% utilisation of their people. From that perspective it might even make more sense to integrate Web care with the traditional service department. Since if there are no calls and utilisation might drop below this very much desired 100% you can handle the digital channel to boos the utilisation and vice versa.

It is wrong to use different teams for different channels, I just assume you never have a had a fax-team in your organisation. Your customer is reaching out to you because of something that they didn’t expect to happen. They don’t reach out to you because you are using a certain channel. Therefore make sure the experience is always brilliant, since you might not always get a second chance.

Web care Archetypes: The Lone Wolf

Situation

Some of the archetypes I would like to start with a personal story and this is one of them:

We ordered some birthday stuff for my son online at a German football club since he absolutely loves soccer. However after ordering it there was no communication, besides after 4 days an email that things were really busy now and things might be delayed (imagine telling your customer: thanks for your money, now wait for it when we feel like shipping).

After four weeks of no communication we tried a first message on Twitter to their main account. Still deafening silence. After that a second tweet, still no response, then a third tweet reaching out to the social media manager of this club. Finally a response (not s a solution though) and he provided us with the details of somebody who could help us. After a week of more silence all of a sudden the package arrived. Just a bit too late for this birthday, though our son decided anyways to not be a fan of this club, since he prefers a club that cares.

Analysis

If you are not responding to your customers, literally in this case your fans, you have a bigger issue than just Web care not done right. Since fans are the type of customers that tend to give you recurring revenues and by creating a poor first experience you make sure the next time they won’t bother at all and won’t spend their money on you. The only reason this case seems to be solved is because of an individual that cares enough to go into the organisation to try to solve things.

In this specific case it was his job to do something with social media, however I guess service was not part of his job description. In many other cases it is somebody who is just passionate about the job he does and thinks that everybody that interacts with the products and services of his company should have a great experience. Those people go beyond their job description and make deep impact for the organisation often outside regular working hours. However it isn’t scalable and sustainable so it won’t work on the long-term or with high volume.

It might be clear that this approach (by lack of a better word) of Web care doesn’t help companies in turning Web care into a profit centre. Even worse the result of this way of working gives people a reason not to buy anything from you, because you don’t seem to care after the transaction. Also when you have just one lone wolf (or just a couple) you are running the risk that people are burning up, since they are doing so much stuff besides their day job , that you have to wonder if this is still healthy for them. This unstructured approach turns people away and creates burnouts. Neither of these two items are things you like to happen.

How to make it better

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.

Abraham Lincoln

It is plain and simple: make sure your service works. This soccer club is lucky to have a guy who is so involved to invest time in solving issues caused by others who don’t even care to reply to an email. He is probably one of the unsung heroes, however given that he is just alone he will scale poorly in the end and burn up.

This organisation needs to scale up and make sure there more people just like him and that they become pro active, instead of reactive. By becoming pro active you solve issues sooner in the process, providing the organisations and people with more time for other things, such as the proverbial ‘sharpening the axe’. Cherish the Lone wolfs, though more important let them build a pack of wolfs to make it scale. Often the Lone wolf himself is so busy he forgets to do that, so help him with this.

As soon as you have a group of Lone Wolfs most of your Web care issues are over and you’ll scale rather nicely while even providing a human face to service, instead of just showing a logo that blast out replies. By doing so, you are once again able to make a real connection with people reaching out to you via social media and by having such a connection you can increase loyalty which in itself could increase revenue in the long run. However the most important thing is that you really start caring about other people, instead of just firefighting.

The Nine Archetypes of Web care

This might be the last item I write about Web care, even though I find it very interesting to see how companies are pouring tons of cash into a brain-dead activity. Essentially, a lot of companies are trying to duct-tape their poor service online by being great on Facebook and Twitter. Because poor service is what it boils down to: you have failed with your product or service, either by delivery poor quality or make it difficult to understand it or to handle it. Seldom you see companies handling messages on social media from enthusiastic groups of fans that throw idea after idea to a company or any other positive feedback on why the products or services (or the brand in general) are so great.

Web care: the Shiny alternative for failing business processes

So the current state of Web care is pathetic, just for the simple fact that Web care is a way too narrow view on social business activities. Web care is now just playing help desk on social media. For now people perceive this as sexy because it is new. For now having a lot of people in your Web care team is something great, however if you frame it correctly it is often the sign of a company in demise that unfortunately still has too much money to spend to really see that their world is colliding.

Having a big Web care team shows that you have a lot of activity to handle. However if all you do is answering questions of your customers day in day out and these questions are nearly the same, you have an information issue: you seem not to be able to offer the right information on time to your customer: Instead of fixing the real problem you are duct taping this issue with Web care: the shiny sexy alternative for failing business processes.

Is it a thing or does it matter?

However you might realise that the thing you are doing with Web care is just that: a thing, not something that matters in one way or another let alone that it can be a profit centre for your organisation or drives real change. However it is hard to go from a thing to something that makes a difference and matters. To be able to transform this, you have to know where you are at, what you are doing wrong and what you need to do to move away from hiding process failures with the shiny new thing and move into the next stage: social business transformation; transforming your organisation towards a social business in which social adds value, instead of hiding your issues.

To make you more aware of what might be wrong with your current Web care activities, I have created a list of archetypes of the ways in which Web care is executed within organisation. With these archetypes you are able to identify your pitfalls and show what you can do to make a change. Since if you want to move forward you need to make a change, with Web care you are just running round in circles, instead of making a real substantial and sustainable change in your way of working and interacting with your ecosystem.

These archetypes are:

In the upcoming week all of these archetypes will be published and you will find links to the articles here. If you want to keep the articles as soon as these are published: scroll down and subscribe to these articles using your email.

Start transforming your business now

Coming to the end of the introduction, I realise that this is probably not the last thing I will write about Web care, just for the simple fact that there is still so much work to do in transforming  so many organisations into a social business. Although so many business already think that they are already there because they have a Web care department. Therefore there is a lot of work to do, and basically it starts here with the identification of the archetypes of Web care.

Enterprise Collaboration: what would Super Techies do?

Suggest a modern collaboration system that supports effective internal and external engagement and is highly accessible, secure and flexible. 

That was the challenge provided by Edsel Perreira, Vice President – Information Technology at Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd, to the participants of the Capgemini Super Techie Show, the first technology-based reality game show for IT professionals. I was invited to be a part of this show as a member of the jury in this show and listen to the solutions the participants and it was a true privilege to do so.

The question Edsel Perreira raised might seem to be a generic one, however there is always a question behind the question. The real question is:

How can I use such a system within my organisation on any device while I can be compliant with all rules and regulations and while increasing productivity of my employees.

The solutions

Without going into the details of the solutions of the participants, I would suggest that you watch the show for this it will be well worth your time to view their great ideas, I would like to provide you with a list of items you should at least think of when wanting to get started with such a solution.

  1. What issue are you solving; a collaboration system is nice, however what are the use cases you are going to use it for.
  2. Where is the money; implementation will cost money, is there an ROI and if so how will you measure it.
  3.  How will you make people use it; The business case might be clear for the corporation, however how will you get the individual employee to use it.
  4. Technology; There is enough technology available, however what fits the needs of the customer and does it have a good fit with the existing application landscape
  5. Hosting; On premise, public or private cloud or a hybrid solution. Data has to be stored somewhere, given the rules and regulations in this market what is the best solution that provides both flexibility and security.
  6. When will it be implemented; Ideas are great, reality is better, how much time will it take to get it up and running.

I was impressed by the extensive knowledge of the participants and how they approached the challenge that was provided by Glenmark. Each of the teams came with their unique perspective which provided Glenmark with several different solutions they now could be able to choose from or to use a mix of the three proposed solutions. Since in my experience there is no doubt that Enterprise Collaboration Systems will provide companies such as Glenmark with a huge strategic advantage just by connecting and sharing the knowledge within the company.

Follow the Capgemini Super Techies Show

If you would like to keep up to date on the Capgemini Super Techies Show you might visit the site, follow the show on Twitter or like it on Facebook and of course you can view the show on our YouTube Channel.

The first episode you can view right here and my views and those of Edsel Perreira directly after the show can be viewed in the videos below the first episode:

My views directly after the show

Edsel Perreira’s views directly after the show

Congratulations Community Manager: You Have Saved your Job, but Killed your Community

A lot of community managers are not managing communities, they are just managing their own job security, they are ensuring that they have a job and the success of the community comes second (at best). In general it almost looks like a natural behaviour, since it happens so often, though if you look a bit deeper it is either based on fear or on ignorance.

Symptoms of a focus on job security and not on the community’s well-being

There are a few symptoms that show that a community manager might be more concerned about his job than about the community. These symptoms are:

  1. Treating your community members as toddlers. Even though common sense is not that common, there is no reason to assume that your community is a collection of morons. Empower your community members, help them, though do not belittle them, they can think for themselves. Community managers that are treating their members as morons do so to show that without them it would be a complete disaster, since the worst thing that could happen is that people start thinking for themselves and come up with some intelligent suggestions…
  2. Coming up with endless lists of rules, visions, strategies etc. A typical way to avoid any work is by making plans instead of taking actions. It is good to make a plan, however a plan doesn’t run your community. Some community managers take also the rather isolated approach with this item, as in: they work on these things by themselves without involvement of community members or other stakeholders. Community managers that make a lot of plans often actually don’t know what they should be really doing and therefore keep making plans to create validate their work. Plus like I said before: often making plans is perceived as real work, while most people do it just to avoid the real work.
  3. Using vanity metrics instead of focusing on business goals. As long as lines in charts are moving upwards to the right things are perceived as doing great. Therefore tons of reporting in communities is done on number of messages, number of members etc etc, numbers that always increase. However what kind of business value does it generate? If you cannot correlate (and preferably directly relate) your community with business outcomes you are managing somebody’s hobby, not something that adds value to the business. Community managers often report on vanity metrics because they are easy to measure and always look good and sometimes also because the organisation itself has no idea and the community manager doesn’t take the lead to guide the organisation on what to do.
  4. Keeping the lights on, even if nobody is there. Kill your darlings, especially as a community manager you shouldn’t be afraid to stop doing thing, to close down parts of the community or even to discuss the viability of the community in general. Community managers think that their job is just managing the community, though it is about generating business value which happens to be with a community as. Just having a community for the sake of having a community is the most desperate job security measure.

 How to overcome this and be brilliant in your job

If you only know what you shouldn’t do, or what you are doing is wrong, you still don’t know what you should be doing. So let me counter the four earlier points with the things you could be doing instead. And more important with which you would make a bigger impact on the business and its goals.

  1. Empower your community members. Your job isn’t to to micro manage community members, it is to make sure that can do what they should be doing and be great at it. That is not something you do by holding hands, at least not if you want to make it scale. Think of what you can do to let your community members shine and derive value out of the community. You’ll see that is not you that have to be in the spotlight,  you are more like the person behind the scenes: connecting people, stimulating people to participate etc etc. A community manager is facilitating most of the time and less  (micro) managing. The community is about putting your community members in the spotlight, not yourself.
  2. Focus on business goals. If something is not contributing to a business goal it is a hobby subsidised by your employer. There is nothing wrong with hobbies, though subsidising is not something that is very sustainable. If you want to measure if a community is truly successful you need the connection with business goals, also because this can help in providing you with more budgets for activities on the long run (since if you earn more for the company you can ask for more to make it even better). If you are able in helping to meet business goals you are proving the real value of the community and you are doing a service to both the company and the community members, since you are also then creating a sustainable place for the latter group. If your company has no views on what business goals could be achieved with a community, help them in defining it. A community manager should lead, not just follow.
  3. Challenge everything / kill your darlings. Don’t take the community success for granted and don’t settle if you meet certain success standards, since your community is not standard and most likely never will be. Only if you challenge nearly everything you can move forward, if that means that you have to kill certain features in your community do so. Nothing is more disastrous for success than trying to please everybody. By challenging everything it is not just about challenging what you are doing, but also what others are doing and whether you could do it better (more effectively for example) with a community than it is done currently. A community manager should be able to inspire its surroundings, not just the community managers, but also the other stakeholders since that will be one of the ways the understand the added value.

In the first four points the community manager is a follower, somebody who just does what other people say so and doesn’t try to be remarkable or challenge the status quo. Though in the last three points you see that a community manager is a leader, somebody who make things happen, not by putting himself in the centre but by helping others, either the community members or the other stakeholders. A leader doesn’t have to be in the spotlight and especially when it is about community management it about letting other people shine and helping people to meet their (business) goals, it is never about making sure that you still have a job in a year from now. Since if you do your community management really well you might have a job for life.