Teach Them to Fish — Community Management Builds the Community


Teach Them to Fish — Community Management Builds the Community

Last week I was working with a customer, planning for their 2016 community management education and awareness program.  One thing that struck me was her reference to wanting to teach her community managers “how to fish”.  I loved this analogy.

Where this was coming from was that this customer, like most of those that I work with, has a small central team to manage adoption of their enterprise social network.  When you have a small team, a strong program of community management is an important component in extending the reach and efficacy of the central team.

Competence and Confidence

Education and awareness campaigns are often part of any comprehensive enterprise social launch.  However, often once the launch is complete education opportunities often wane and many community managers or owners are left to their own devices to make their community successful.  I have spoken before about building competence in community management to achieve repeatable success.  Building that competence requires a twofold approach

1. Fostering community maturity by building basic skills and increasing competence

2. Engaging community managers so they feel supported and gain confidence

Building Community Management Skills

To build the competence of your community managers, you need to have a robust ongoing program of education.  This should be planned out on an annual basis and reviewed at least bi-annually.  So in the example of the customer that I am currently working with, they are following this good practice and planning their annual education approach one year in advance.  Don’t assume that once you’ve trained your community managers on the basics that you are done.  You will have new community managers being identified and existing community managers who need assistance in maturing their communities.  Craft your training plan to support both ends of this spectrum of training needs.

Engaging Community Managers

That brings us to the second point.  Couple your education planning with activities that create awareness and provide opportunities for engagement. Awareness helps ensure your community managers know what help is available to them. Highlight education materials, help communities and support processes, best practices and enabling features of your enterprise social network.

If possible, connect your community managers face to face at least once a year. Even if this is not possible due to geography or budget, you can engage them by connecting the community regularly using live events like a teleconference, video call or “tweet jam” style live chat on your social network. By creating a community of practice for your community managers, your more experienced community managers can support the new community managers being identified.  Remember that if you have a small central team it will be difficult for you to be hands on with all levels of community managers, especially in larger organizations or more mature programs.  That’s why it is so important to ” teach them to fish”, and they in turn can teach one another.