Earlier this year, I coached a community manager who had been doing the same basic tasks in her community for almost two years.
She initiated and responded to discussions, hosted webinars, built relationships with members, and had a small group of top members.
The level of engagement was ok, she was handling just over 1000 posts per month, but the level of participation had barely budged since she had arrived.
Her plan to improve results could be boiled down into a single sentence; do more of what she was doing.
Or, to use another phrase, try harder.
Trying harder isn’t a strategy, it’s a new year’s resolution.
You Can’t Engage Your Way To Huge Improvements
Creating more discussions, responding to more posts, and hosting more webinars aren’t game-changers that get people more engaged.
If you want more participation, which she did, you need to do things which fundamentally change the game.
We coached her in a few areas:
1) Making a stronger case for the community. Her colleagues accepted the company had a community, but weren’t proactively supporting it. This meant she didn’t have the budget, support, or resources of her colleagues. We helped her summarise the benefits of a community into a pity metaphor, create an emotive appeal for colleagues, and schedule meetings with colleagues to understand what they wanted. She managed to get product managers responding to product questions directly, share exclusive news and beta versions with top members, and had the CEO create a blog in the community.
2) Better positioning and promotion of the community. To increase participation, you need more traffic. Members only drifted in via search today. We helped her get the community featured as a navigation tab on her company homepage which doubled the number of visits the community received overnight.
3) Improving search traffic. We helped her understand the importance of removing thin content, merging discussions, and tweaking discussion topics to attract more search traffic. It consumed a lot of time but also produced demonstrable results.
4) Rethinking what members were meant to do. We helped identify her member segments and develop unique journeys for each of them. This ensured each member was doing the things which deliver the best value to the community and for themselves.
5) Expanded the scope of the community. We also expanded the scope of the community to include newcomer-specific content and mentoring groups. We want this to be the place for newcomers to the field, regardless of whether they’re customers.
Within 3 months the number of posts had increased by 67% and continues to rise (steadily) today.
The lesson here is you can’t keep doing what you’re doing today and expect dramatically better results.
There is plenty you can learn on the job, but you also risk being stuck doing the same tasks today without any improvement.
Escaping the comfort zone
To make the big leaps ahead, you need to become familiar with skills beyond just engagement.
In this case, the community manager needed to learn technical skills, business skills, and some strategic skills.
The very skills her company hadn’t taught her were the very skills she needed to master to take her community to the next level.
It’s situations like these where coaching delivers the best results.
This is why we’ve launched our coaching programs this month.
We believe community managers should be highly trained professionals with a skill-set that extends beyond just engagement.
FeverBee’s Coaching Program
We can give community professionals a broader picture, help them identify the skills they need, and then take their community to an advanced level.
In our coaching program, we’ve broken community management into five core fields.
Each of these has five unique levels. And each level has specific skills you need to master to progress.
When you join our coaching program you benchmark your current level by (honestly) answering questions about your past experiences.
Based upon your assessment, you get a benchmark which looks like this:
You then collaborate with us (and ideally your boss) to set your goals for the next few months. We recommend progressing one level per month.
For example, if one category (i.e. technical) isn’t relevant to your work, you can ignore it and focus on the ones that are most relevant to you. If you’re already ranking highly for engagement skills, you might choose to master business skills instead.
Once you’ve set your goals, you get a roadmap which shows you what skills you need to learn and how to learn those skills.
These won’t be vague recommendations, they will be specific and practical.
Now we connect you with the skills, knowledge, and resources you need to steadily up your abilities. This involves three areas:
1) Personal recommendations. We’ve developed hundreds of specific steps you can take to master new skills. Once you’ve set your path, you can see the specific recommendations for you.
2) Private coaching. We provide personal coaching to each participant of the course. Your situation is quite unique and you’re going to need private support at times too. We’re here to answer your questions and give you that support.
3) Private group. Every member is connected to a private group within our community based upon their assessment. Here you can have the discussions you can’t have anywhere else with a private group of people in exactly your situation.
Each month you get to track your progress and see your skills levels steadily increase.
If you work for a company which doesn’t have the time to coach you in the skills you need, this program will really help.