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Play Like a Running Back: Tips for the Online Community Manager

Written by: admin
September 17, 2013 • 5-minute read

In the last game of the North American football season, the dynamo running back added 22 yards in four catches. With a quick grab of the ball upfield, he was able to jet sweep away from the opponents, spelling victory for the Arrows!

It may not sound as fun but, the life of an Online Community Manager isn’t so far off from this.

Having good eyes, sure hands, quickness and agility, a running back is crucial in any gridiron team. He performs a wide range of tasks on the field, from blocking to rushing in support of the quarterback.

Likewise, Online Community Managers are the internet eyes, ears, voice and face of a brand while not initially making decisions about it. They need to be ever present. They provide services like social media listening, writing editorial calendars, making reports and running contests.

Online Community Manager

While Creatives and Marketers conceptualize campaigns, Online Community Managers see the campaigns through. They act as mediators between the brand and its online followers, receiving and replying to feedback about the brand. This feedback helps your company’s decision makers improve on products and services. The online community managers’ replies also work to alleviate and clarify any misconceptions about the brand. Facebook and Twitter followers who see these will know that you listen and will help grow your following with more returning customers.

Because each brand is unique, online community management requires tailor-made guidelines for the brand’s community. And true enough, even these guidelines will change as you learn more about your followers.

Learning a few basic practices will help you start your brand’s online community. Romeo Victorino, one of StraightArrow’s dynamic Social Media Associates, talks about some general rules of thumb when it comes to online community management:

1. Make your pages human! - Start by designing your pages to be approachable and at the same time reflective of your brand. Each brand has a set of characteristics that you can personify through the images, language and content you use in the page. You should also let fans talk to you as a human. This means responding to their comments and messages in a timely manner.

2. Grow your network by connecting people. - Choose content that your followers will find particularly interesting. Find out what questions they often ask. And then look from your own brand’s blog and from other blogs for answers. If you give them information worth knowing, they will share it with their friends. And if one follower has a service that another needs, get them together. You can also organize contests and face-to-face community meet ups. StraightArrow usually runs contests using simple social media applications.

3. Keep learning. - As a community manager listens in on both the obvious and unspoken needs of their page followers, he too should be in the know of information past, present and future. Research skills are key in finding out about the history of an industry and what that teaches us today. You need to get updates on current events that could affect your followers’ personal or professional lives. Finding out about and sharing industry innovations can make your followers’ work easier.

We’ve also found some other best practices quite useful. SAC has a 1-hour response rule to keep followers engaged and feeling safe when conversing with the brand through its page. We also like to post behind-the-scenes photos to welcome online followers into our processes.

The Community Round Table also reports that the average ratio between passive readers, editors and writers is at 55-30-15. This means you will get better engagement if you let followers contribute content more. This can be done by encouraging guest posts and sharing content that the followers themselves posted.

We also love this tip from The Huffington Post that says online community management should help followers become better people. It can clarify about processes in the industry. It can also make them aware of environmental or health-related issues, all with a simple tweet or status post.

So, what's in your playbook? Share us your own tips for online community management touchdowns. We’d love to hear about your unique experiences with your followers.

StraightArrow Corporation can be your running back! Let us grow and manage your online community.


Xenia-Chloe H. Villanueva is a Communications Specialist at StraightArrow Corporation. When not writing copy or developing concepts, she reviews movies for a Webbie-award nominated blog. She also jogs, cooks and contributes to independent poetry projects.


Berry, Megan. "9 Top Community Managers on Why Online Community Matters." The Huffington Post. 30 May 2013. Web. 15 Aug. 2013
Lytle, Bryan. "10 Qualities of an Effective Community Manager." 28 Jan. 2013. Web. 15 Aug. 2013.
Peters, Meghan. "The Future of Community Management." Mashable. 29 Jan. 2013. Web. 15 Aug. 2013.
Meyers, Kelly. "6 Clever Tricks for Social Media Managers." Mashable. 21 June, 2013. Web. 15 Aug. 2013.
"20 Ways to Succeeed at Social Media Engagement.", Inc. 2013. Web. 15 Aug. 2013.
"The 2013 State of Community Management." The Community Roundtable. March 2013. Web. 15 Aug. 2013.

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