Is This Terrible Community Management?

January 29, 2012Comments Off on Is This Terrible Community Management?

Every few days, someone will highlight an example like this of terrible community management. 

DreamHost is down. People are angry. No-one from DreamHost is managing the comments. This, therefore, means it's terrible community management.

I would argue that this might be great community management, at least from a community perspective. A common enemy is good for the community. A community united against you is still a united community. That's not easy to achieve. 

If the community were to find a way to band together and resolve the problem, community theory suggests they will be much stronger for it. There is some evidence of this happening. They're suggesting different hosting providers, for example. 

None of this will help DreamHost. Upsetting your customers isn't smart. Many of these customers wont be coming back. But this isn't the point (of this post).

Customer service and community management aren't the same. They overlap…in places. But they're different. The art of developing a strong community isn't synonymous with the art of pleasing every customer. They diverge, frequently. This isn't terrible community management (or community management at all), it's terrible customer service. 

A community practitioner sees a major problem as a big opportunity for the community to work together to find a solution. As a result, the community is stronger. A customer service rep should will press the panic button and tell the audience to sit tight until the problem is resolved. That audience has no power. 

This might seem like a minor, terminological, difference, but it's far bigger than that. Time to start considering if you're doing community management or customer service. 

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