Welcome to part 3 of our community management series! We’re glad you’re here.
You know that community management matters. You want to take your community to the next level…but you’re stuck in the “where do I go from here?” phase.
In our last piece, we discussed sharing your “who” with your community and all that it entails. You learned the ins and outs of going below the surface to truly develop relationships with your community members.
Up next? Providing the support your community needs.
What does it mean?
You’ve seen the “contact us for support” buttons on every website you’ve frequented (including ours!), but, support doesn’t have to be technical, official or even complicated in nature. Instead, it means being there for your community, knowing where to find answers and making yourself available.
Because supporting your community should be one of your top priorities as a community manager, there are a few ways to enhance your game.
Understand the Needs of Your Community
To be able to provide the individualized support that your community members need for your community to be successful, you first need to understand your community. If you’ve followed through on our first post, you’ve learned how to share who YOU are; next up is learning from your community members.
Think about the purpose of your community. Is it to connect individuals in a professional setting to accomplish work-related tasks or goals? Is it to bring together various industry professionals for networking? Is it to share news relating to a common or shared interest? When you answer this question, you’ll be able to figure out what it is your community members are looking for.
For instance, if your community is built around project management, “support” might be more technical in nature. It might mean being available to make sure deadlines are met and that any issues that might arise are answered. If your community is built around a shared interest, “support” might mean answering questions relating to specific products or issues.
Think about the purpose of your community and you’ll have a great starting point for what support actually means.
Know Your Abilities and Limitations
In any endeavor, it’s important to know exactly what you’re capable of, and where you might fall short.
If you’re able to answer most of the questions your community members come up with, and if you’re able to make yourself available as frequently as possible, great; you’re off to an excellent start.
But, maybe providing support isn’t your forte. In this scenario, it might be most appropriate to appoint a support person or liaison between yourself and your community. Think of someone who will be able to handle most minor issues, or who would be able to come to you when something does come up inside your community that they need a little extra help with.
When you know what you’re able to handle, and when you have someone on board to provide support to you in that area, your community will experience positive effects as a result.
Know Where to Turn
No one has all the answers. That’s not how any community (online or in-person) functions. There’s a reason that the workplace has a certain hierarchy, even if they try to mask it sometimes.
We understand this, and it’s why our support team is available at any time. When something comes up inside your community, whether it’s a technical issue or a question that you simply cannot answer, we’re here. Knowing where to turn when support is necessary is just as important as providing that support yourself.
Create an FAQ’s Document
Sometimes you’ll see the same questions being asked over and over again. In this case you can become proactive in the support that you provide your community.
If members are frequently looking for a specific document or product. Or, if they’re sharing similar concerns, you can create an FAQ’s document inside your community that provides answers. This allows you to save some time on live support while still being there for your community. It’s a win-win.
There’s nothing worse than a frustrated community member; right? Wrong. There’s nothing worse than a frustrated community member who doesn’t know where to turn for support. This is always worse. Especially if those frustrations are hidden or shared with other community members instead of with you.
As a community manager, it’s important to encourage open conversation in your community. This includes encouraging members to share any questions or needs with you on an ongoing basis. As long as you know what’s going on, you’ll be in a better position to provide meaningful support.
Support is a key aspect of a successful, interactive online community that experiences real growth. You can do it and we’re here to help. Ready to get started? You can do this. Make support a focus of your community starting today.