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I am always happy to discuss the difficulty of managing an online community. I’ve written about the misconceptions, provided tips on what it takes to find success, and explained the differences between a community manager and a social media manager.

Because I don’t actively manage an online community any more, I don’t share as many examples of what it’s like to be in the trenches. So when I came across this blog I posted back in 2008, when I was DEEP in the trenches, I thought it would be appropriate to share, for those of you who did not read my blog back then. What follows are actual messages that I received from members, and comments like these were very common.

Here’s the post from October 2008:

Read the rest of this entry »

Now that admins of Facebook fan pages can comment on Facebook profiles and other fan pages as the representatives of those pages, not themselves, there is going to be a huge wave of unwanted content floating around. (If you want details, read this Mashable post.)

I’m going to go all out and call it a tsunami.

We are finally going to see the difference between true community managers who understand their craft and those who simply play one on the internet.

Do you know how tempting it is going to be for admins to post all over other fan pages and go directly to individual profile pages and start pushing their messaging?

VERY!

Think about it. You can now just trot on over to any profile page and start pushing all kinds of marketing messages. “Visit our page,” “Buy our stuff,” “Come download our coupon,” “We just posted a new brochure, you’ll love it.”

Get my drift? And that’s just scratching the surface.

It’s one thing to remove unwanted messages from your inbox, but constantly removing from your wall? The average Joe, non-marketing Facebook user isn’t ready for this at all. I think it will get ugly fast.

For those who have never learned proper etiquette for marketing through online communities, there is a real chance that they will crash and burn.

One horror story I always like to share at speaking events is about a guy who joined the online community I managed and uploaded 750 pictures of wrist watches. It was unbelievable. As you can probably imagine, he was marked as abuse and the matter was brought to my attention fast.

It wasn’t part of the culture. If he’d bothered to study how the community worked, spent some time observing other members, and avoided the temptation to pounce — he would have found a better way to get their attention.  But I digress.

Because this is a new opportunity for Facebook page admins, whose experience and credentials run the gamut,there are no agreed-upon or established rules.I don’t doubt that this change will enable brands, businesses and organizations to build stronger relationships with their fans, as mentioned on Socialbakers, but I do anticipate a wild, wild, west mentality unless Facebook has some plans in place to keep it at bay.

I suppose that removing posts and hiding them could be sufficient. But that’s only if the tsunami heads in a different direction.

On this one, we’ll just have to wait and see.

With new Facebook fan pages, the rules of engagement matter more than ever

 

Are more relevant than ever.

 

Now that admins of Facebook fan pages can comment on Facebook profiles and other fan pages as the representatives of those pages, not themselves, there is going to be a huge wave of unwanted content floating around. I’m going to go all out and call it a tsunami.

We are finally going to see the difference between true community managers who understand their craft and those who simply play one on the internet.

Do you know how tempting it is going to be for admins to post all over other fan pages and go directly to individual profile pages and start pushing their messaging?

VERY!

Think about it. You can now just trot on over to any profile page and start pushing all kinds of marketing messages. “Visit our page,” “Buy our stuff,” “Come download our coupon,” “We just posted a new brochure, you’ll love it.”

Get my drift.

It’s one thing to remove unwanted messages from your inbox, but constantly removing from your wall? The average Joe, non-marketing Facebook user isn’t ready for this at all. I think it will get ugly fast.

For those who have never learned proper etiquette for marketing through online communities, there is a real chance that they will crash and burn.

One horror story I always like to share at speaking events is about a guy who joined the online community I managed and uploaded 750 pictures of wrist watches. It was unbelievable.

As you can probably imagine, he was marked as abuse and the matter was brought to my attention fast.

It wasn’t part of the culture. If he’d bothered to study how the community worked, spent some time observing other members, and avoided the temptation to pounce — he would have found a better way to get their attention.

Because this is a new opportunity for Facebook page admins, whose experience and credentials run the gamut,there are no established rules. I anticipate a wild, wild, west mentality unless Facebook has some plans in place. I suppose that removing posts and hiding them could be sufficient. But that’s only if the tsunami heads in a different direction.

It is not easy being a community manager.

It seems that many people are content to call themselves community managers because they manage a Twitter account, post content on a Facebook fan page (with the goal of “engaging” the masses, or at least those who actually visit the page or allow posts on their newsfeeds) or run a group on LinkedIn.

I’m still not sure how anyone actually “manages a community” on Twitter beyond hosting a regularly scheduled tweetchat, but that’s a subject for another day.

The focus of this post is how community managers actually communicate with members, so I will stick to that for now.

If you spend your time posting comments like: “That’s awesome,” “Great idea,” “Tell me more,”  “So happy you shared that with us,”  “Tell us what you think,” and “Share your thoughts” you aren’t managing anything.

You’re not even thinking. You certainly aren’t going to grow much of anything. If this is how you communicate, your job is easy.

Make no mistake, there is nothing genuine about such emptiness. But once you start posting those types of comments, you will continue to do so for the long run. You will fall into a trap that allows you to believe you are engaging when you are doing anything but.

You need to invest more if you want to see a better return, and if you don’t think you can do better, you might want to reconsider your current role.

I recently discovered that I posted more than 7 thousand pieces of content on the community I managed for a little over 2.5 years. That’s a combination of comments, blogposts and images. I knew that I had to be one of the top contributors if I wanted others to do the same.

Yes, there were times when I posted short comments or told someone that their blog was awesome, but it was by no means something I did very often, and was typically followed by at least one other comment.

Because I like to lead by example, I will share with you a few samples of comments I posted to users in my next few posts, so be sure to subscribe to the blog if you want to see these samples of engagement in action and how taking a genuine interest in community participants can make a real difference.

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This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer. Feel free to challenge me, disagree with me, or tell me I’m completely nuts in the comments section of each blog entry.

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