Mark Twain: An Excellent Community Manager

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Recently, I was invited to participate on a panel presentation regarding the topic ‘The Importance of Social Media in Community Management’.  My co-panelists, a very learned and engaging lot, and I discussed our ideas and thoughts on this, but much of our discussion centered on one overriding issue: the key to community management is transparency.

When I started doing some research to write this blog post on transparency, I kept stumbling on quotations from that old wit, my fellow Southerner Mark Twain. I have since decided that he was a brilliant community strategist!

Mark Twain - An Excellent Community Manager - Christie Fidura

‘Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.’

The harder you work to make your community believe in what you and your company are doing, the more reward you’ll get from it. Give your community a reason to believe in you and to trust you, and back this up with guidelines and policies/procedures, enabling you to be transparent in every interaction. This will ensure the community understands their value to you, and the commitment you’re making to them. Be helpful, inspirational and evoke their emotions. Help them achieve their goals and yours will be achieved too!

‘When in doubt, tell the truth.’

Don’t invite conversation with your community unless you’re willing to hear it all: the good, the bad and the ugly. And should the conversation turn negative, rely on your guidelines and the expectations that you’ve set with your community. Be honest, refer continuously to your policies, and be empathetic. Oh, and do what Mr. Twain our Community Genius says: don’t ever lie to your community. Lost trust is nearly impossible to rebuild.

‘I can live for 2 months on a good compliment.’

Never underestimate the power of recognition. Call out great works by your community leaders. They’ll appreciate your appreciation, which cultivates not only greater loyalty, but also interest from other community leaders. They’ll start thinking of ways they can get your attention too!

‘I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did. I said I didn’t know.’

Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know the solution – but be sure to say that you’re working on finding it. Letting the community know that you’re actively working on their behalf is crucial; they need to feel you’re actively listening. That transparency will continue to resonate with them, making them feel rewarded for being a part of your community.

‘Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.’

Be transparent in your social media interactions. Don’t tweet something you wouldn’t want your mother to hear, or your CEO. Get your messages aligned across all departments and all employees who are active on social media. Be consistent in all your public and social dealings. If you put something out there that results in a public smackdown by the community, admit defeat, apologise and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

‘Sometimes too much to drink is barely enough.’

Told you he was a genius, didn’t I?

Christie Fidura

President at The Perfect Circle
Christie Fidura is President of The Perfect Circle, a Community Management strategic consultancy. The former manager of the Adobe Community for EMEA, which was ranked 2nd out of the Top 106, Christie is based in London, where she co-manages the London Community Manager meetup group, #cmgrLDN.
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