For everyone managing a community team…
To improve a community you can either improve the technology, processes, or the people. The first two get far more attention than the latter.
But if you improve the people…the technology and processes naturally improve too. It’s the best bang for your buck by far.
Set the expectation that each member of your team will acquire new skills. Detail what skills they will need. The Roundtable’s framework is a good place to start. Provide the time (and resources) to acquire new skills. Build a mutual understanding they will make mistakes along the way.
This last part is critical. Skills involve practice. Practice means mistakes.
Then put your framework together.
- Engagement. Engagement skills begin with the ability to stimulate activity and effectively reply to questions. At the highest end, you want a recognized industry expert able to persuade a large following to take action which benefits both the brand and themselves. This requires more sector expertise, better relationship building skills, learning tools of persuasion, and developing systems for moderation/responding to questions with empathy.
- Content. Content skills begin at creating content members may find useful or entertaining. Most community professionals can do this. At the higher end, you want a community manager who can increase conversation rates, search traffic, automation campaigns, write effective newsletters, and attract top industry experts to submit content on a regular basis. The ultimate goal is a self-sustaining system filled with high-quality content that achieves specific goals.
- Technical. Technical skills begin with understanding how the platform works and diagnosing basic problems. At the higher end, you want a community manager to use data to optimize every part of the site, improve speed and functionality, and manage the entire vendor technology process. This means being able to select vendors, negotiate rates, improve design, manage implementation/maintenance etc…
- Strategy. Strategy skills begin with pulling basic engagement data to decide what to work on. At the highest end, you want clear data-driven systems to allocate limited resources to achieve the highest possible ROI for the organization. This means the ability to set logical benchmarks, provide decision frameworks for the team, run multiple experiments simultaneously, building customized dashboards, and doing deep research into the audience’s unique needs.
- Business. Community professionals probably struggle more with business skills than any other category. This begins with understanding how the community fits into the organization’s competing strategic objectives and communicating effectively (e.g. knowing who needs what information and when). At the higher end, you should be able to build a network of allies throughout the organization, attract and keep world-class talent on your team, and become a senior leader within the organization.
Don’t assume more experience leads to more skills. Performing the same, repetitive, role doesn’t do that. Instead, set clear quarterly targets for skills you want your team to acquire and check in each month to see how they’re getting on.
Once you create the right conditions, you might be amazed at how quickly your team improves.