Managing Online Communities

C3. Creating Connections Consulting: Community
Community- image credit: Michelle Beckham

Connecting with people is my passion and always has been (hence the name of my company) and it always amazes me when businesses are apprehensive about connecting with their online communities.  I see this many times through the Facebook Page Marketing workshops that I teach in the Cincinnati area. Page administrators are a bit nervous to engage in conversations for fear that something may come up that they can’t handle.

A business owner in my most recent workshop asked if he should immediately delete negative comments posted to the wall of his retail company page.  My immediate answer was NO! One needs to step back and think about how they would handle the situation if the patron was at their place of business. The disgruntled customer would not be ignored or dismissed; instead, store personnel would ignite customer service 101 principles and handle the situation appropriately. This is the same thing with Facebook. A negative comment is a chance to put customer service into effect and to handle the situation publicly so that others can see how you operate.  Chances are the comment will have hit news feeds and the cloud before you can delete it anyway, and then you are left with a negative image that you will have to deal with later.

The exception to dealing with these types of comments in a professional and customer service oriented way is if the comments are clearly put out there by “trolls” . A troll is defined by Wikipedia as:

“..someone who posts inflammatory,[2]extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[3] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.”

Troll comments should be deleted and the Page admin can still make some statements to the community to explain why the action was taken. Might even be a great time to set up some community Page rules and post them in the Notes Tab in order to stay static or if your budget allows, create a custom Tab where your rules will be prominently seen under your Page Profile Pic or Banner. Coca Cola does a great job of posting their “House Rules” as a custom Tab. Take a look here. C3 makes custom tabs at reasonable prices. Check our website for more information.

The goal to having an online presence should be connecting with your customers and potential customers by creating signature experiences and opportunities for needed content that only you can provide. There certainly is a lot that goes into managing a Facebook Page and its corresponding online community, but once an administrator receives training on how to  effectively market the Page and build a following, then a little advice from community managers who are rocking it out online would certainly be helpful.

I happened to stumble upon this great FREE eBook on Google+ (thanks Mike Alber for posting). It shares 60 tips from community managers across the globe that can help you to be effective with your online engagement. The eBook was created by Blaise Grimes-Viort and appeared in this blog post.  Blaise states:

“If you enjoy it, please feel free to share it with someone else you think would benefit from the pearls of Community Management wisdom found within.”

So in the spirit of sharing great work, here it is (click on image or link below):

Blaise Grimes-Viort
eBook created by Blaise Grimes-Viort- photo credit: Blaise Grimes-Viort

60 Insights From Experienced Community Managers


Michelle Beckham-Corbin

Social Media Strategist

2 thoughts on “Managing Online Communities”

  1. Thanks for the shout out Michelle. Love the photo you used to represent “community”.

    I dig the angle you take when advising people against hiding/deleting negative comments. Clearly showcases that similar behavior does not work with face-to-face customer interactions – and subsequently, all other interaction points.

    1. Mike, the interesting thing about the photo is that I happened to see this collection of figures at the Cincinnati Nature Center gift shop a couple of years ago. There is a sister photo that I took that shows a single figure alone on a swing. I use the images in a presentation I give on Tribe Building and Online Engagement. Glad you like it!

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