Online Community Management Best Practices


Coming up to speed on online community management best practices can be a little overwhelming because in addition to learning new grassroots public relations skills and concepts, you have to learn a new language.

Winning the trust and loyalty of your customers through branded B2B social networks has evolved as its digital marketing sub-discipline. Sometimes, these online communities even play a role in media relations, serving as a place where public relations firms and journalists can connect with subject matter experts.

According to Korn Ferry EVP Don Spetner, whose firm searches for executive job candidates to fill senior-level communications posts at multibillion-dollar organizations, you need to be fluent in social media communications, but you need to know how to read a balance sheet as well.

But when I work with executives on integrating social media communications into organizational communications, after the initial excitement and fascination with these emerging channels subsides, the realization sets in that social media is labor intensive and that it’s not something they can do in their spare time.

One way to cope with the fear of scope creep that a tour through the whole wired world usually provokes is by acknowledging that social media communications tasks must be distributed across various departments rather than owned entirely by PR, corporate communications, and marketing.

Rachel Happe just finished a session addressing functional strategies for integrating social media communications across the organization at the PRSA Digital Impact Conference in NYC, and she says social media is like the traffic in India:

  • Social media is self-organizing, like the way traffic flows on the streets in India. It takes an army to organize chaos. One traffic cop won’t do.
  • In India, cows stop traffic in the streets. But people move around them because they’re scared.
  • Suspend your disbelief. It looks like it won’t work out, but somehow, it always does, whether you participate or not.

What you need to do:

  • Find your informal voice. Learn to interact informally with your customers.
  • Be as responsive to your customers as their friends are to them.
  • Try driving in India. Practice these processes internally before moving externally.

Brian Solis keynoted this morning about Putting the Public Back in Public Relations, Marketing Over Coffee hosts Christopher S. Penn and John Wall did a session on using Social Media PR and UK-based social media researcher Tom Smith, who authored When Did We Start Trusting Strangers when he was at Universal McCann presented hard numbers on global adoption rates by new media channel.

Our Podcasts