Keep in mind it takes a village! Hopefully, you are seeking out and nurturing champions for your site. These folks can do more for you in the long run than a single community manager ever can, including connecting into the "official" community manager when needed or appropriate. You can then set up a location for community questions, which the CM and champs can all follow. You can add that site to your official communications and theme it into your menus to direct users where to seek help. This seems to be more likely to succeed long term than trying to get everyone to follow a single CM, which, as you already pointed out, can change over time. The place can remain constant. This has worked well for us.
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This community (JiveWorks) has had many community managers over the 16 years we've been in existence and we found it most helpful for people to connect to the real human rather than an admin account. Instead, we created places that are evergreen where someone can connect to the community manager. As community managers come and go, members can still post their question in the Community Help space and whoever is on-call or available at the time addresses the question.
This has been a very successful model for us and also gives us a more robust way of communicating to our users about the really big things (we use site-wide system announcements) versus the smaller things (we can post an announcement in About the Community).
Let me know if you have any questions!
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I actually specifically tell people NOT to follow me. I am bouncing around the community posting ALL THE TIME, and it's not often relevant to any broad group of users. Instead, I encourage people to follow our Community Training Library blog, which is the channel we use to share core community updates and news. Even if we've launched something somewhere else, we put out a CTL blog to make sure the word gets out. We weren't having great traction with followers, so we actually just set up our CTL blog to push to a news stream on everyone's home page. Hopefully now people will have more visibility into our updates!
Everyone will still know who to go to for help... you won't be able to hide. Trust me
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I agree with the sentiment expressed so far. Like Kirsten, I tell people NOT to follow me or they will get overwhelmed. Anything about the community, we post in the Community Help Center, and tell people to follow that. Of course for really important things, we also post announcements. And then when we get emails asking questions, we really encourage people to ask their questions in the help center, or we'll ask their permission to use Jive for Outlook to move the email thread into the community. Nudging people to post more openly helps us make sure questions get answered quickly, and gives people a fairly safe way to test out posting in the community.
And I love what Libby said about people wanting to connect with a real person. It is so true, and why I sometimes will ask other people to answer questions or respond with their experience - so that they come from someone the person asking is more familiar with and they'll be more likely to listen.
Don't despair about the Community Manager account you created, though. That will be good to use to pose those questions that others don't want to ask themselves but you want posted for others to find. You can use your CM account to post the question, and then use your personal account to answer the question. That shows people how to ask questions, how the answers can get marked as correct, and gets your name out there as someone with answers.
Thanks for all the responses guys!
This has been really informative. They way we have our system set up now is the Community Manager account handles moderation and moving questions into the right spaces. We just opened up the whole community for questions and discussions, and we're having to do a lot of 'training' to get people used to going to the promotions space for questions about upcoming promotions, for example. One of the reasons there is that users see that little message, NAME has rejected your content or moved your content, and I want people to see Community Manager there. I'm also blogging as community manager about new space openings, new content, etc.
Noel White, how did you set up and encourage your champions group? We launched the week before our franchise conference and picked up some names of users interested in becoming champions there. My boss and I (we're basically the whole team at this point) are working on engagement strategies for the site, this month centered around our latest promotion. I want to encourage users to share their best practices around this promotion, and I'm thinking I can get the champions to spearhead that. I created a group for them so I can communicate with them (and make them feel like they have a special area!) but do you think that's the best way to encourage them? How did you communicate to your users that you were looking for champions? Or did you reach out to your active users and "offer" them the job?
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how did you set up and encourage your champions group?
Oh, it was totally my idea and all my doing!
Just teasing. I actually had very little to do with it. I have been fortunate enough to work with a couple of great Community Managers here, and they did a great job working through the corporate culture challenges to set the program up and keep it growing. I would emphasize the need to fit the program into your company culture. You want to avoid setting something up with the expectation that people are going to wake up the next day and start working differently. Culture is the last thing to change. So you want to influence a direction change where necessary, not expect one.