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The Community Roundtable has released their Community Manager Salary Survey 2014, which was sponsored by Jive. You can download it for free in exchange for your contact information.

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States, and this research is truly something that community managers should be thankful for.

I spent some time yesterday reviewing the full document, and I have to commend them on a really useful work. The salary data is immediately helpful to professionals and will help unpaid community managers get raises. That’ll raise the bottom, which will raise the average, which will raise all of us.

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TripAdvisor and YelpOnce in a while, a story will spread online of a business owner who has responded to a negative TripAdvisor or Yelp review in a pointed manner. The headlines for these stories include words and phrases like “epic,” “perfect” and “hilarious take down.”

I get it. It’s your livelihood. Maybe the reviewer was nasty or unreasonable. It was fun to give them a dose of their own medicine. To take them down a peg. But here’s a question: what’s the business value of doing so? Do you believe it nets you a profit or a loss?

Unfortunately, I would not be surprised if some restaurant and hotel owners and managers believe they will be the next “viral sensation” by responding rudely to an “unfair” Yelp or TripAdvisor review.

Good luck with that approach. You are winning the battle and losing the war.

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Credit: 10ch (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Credit: 10ch (CC BY-SA 2.0)

We don’t spend too much time thinking about the private messaging feature of the community software that we use. But as a tool for the community manager and staff, I would never want to be without it.

Most of a community manager’s best work happens in private, and much of that is private messages. That is where we manage the situation. Where we deal with troublemakers and push well-meaning members back on the right path. If you correct someone in public, in front of everyone, that’s a confrontation. They have to save face. They have to defend themselves. If you do it in private, it’s just a conversation between you and them.

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Over-Communicate

Posted by Patrick on November 10th, 2014 in Interacting with Members, Managing Staff

You should tell your members and your staff. You should tell them what you expect of them. You should tell them what to expect of you. You should tell them what challenges you are facing and share the details. You should ask the same of them.

Over-communicate. Don’t assume. Over-communication is one of the secrets to building trust. When you don’t, that leads to surprise (the bad kind). Bad surprises destroy trust.

That’s why I over-communicate. Under-communication is miscommunication.

When you are making a big change, like changing a 10 year old design, you need to communicate that change like crazy. You can’t just flip a switch. You can’t just say, a week before, “we’re doing this.” You have to really talk through it.

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Mind the GapHere’s one way to think about what community means for many businesses.

Community is what fills the gap between sales and service. Too many companies still only talk to customers when they are selling or when something goes wrong. Sales and service. But between those two things is this huge gap, which we can refer to as everything else.

If you aren’t in this gap, you are vulnerable. It’s risky because there can always be another company that is willing to come in and treat your customers better than you do. That’s why community – real community work, online community building and management, not just general social media marketing and use – is so important to business right now and will only continue to grow in importance moving forward.


I was recently approached by someone who was looking for examples of company representatives that had engaged on an online forum that they didn’t own. This happens a lot, but as a friend put it, “I’ve seen too many examples to count but finding them is a real pain.”

There is a ton of value in forums, and many companies already take advantage of that value. However, others wonder how companies are doing it. To help with this, I asked around and put together a collection of solid examples.

My criteria in collecting these was pretty simple. A company representative must be engaging in an online forum that they do not own or manage. Their contribution must not be something that is simply expected. In other words, they don’t have to engage, it’s not the norm, but they chose to do so. Most importantly, they did so in a way that was accepted by the community and those who manage it.

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Compensation studies are most beneficial (at least in the short term) for professionals who are underpaid. It helps them ask for raises, which then raises the averages, which helps the space as a whole.

That’s why you should be paying close attention when a new study is released. The other day I wrote about the latest one, conducted by The Community Roundtable. This data helps move us forward and directly helps the professionals within this space.

Let me explain how it works.

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The Community Roundtable has released some preliminary results from their recently completed Community Manager Salary Survey 2014. More than 350 community professionals participated. They were asked about their responsibilities, compensation, level of experience and more.

The full report, sponsored by Jive, is due later this year. But I wanted to talk about some of the early data that caught my eye. To view all of the information, download the infographic that they released.

The infographic breaks the research down into three roles: community manager, community strategist and director of community.

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Recently, I received an email from a community manager that was dealing with a lot of abuse, harassment and insults, including threats of death and violence. As unfortunate as it is, that stuff happens to many professionals in this space. That doesn’t mean it’s OK or that it should happen. But we have to acknowledge that it does if we are to deal with it.

From this point forward, I will refer to the community manager who emailed me as CM.

The worst part of the story was how the community manager’s boss reacted. The boss forbid CM from taking any action against the members. If they did any of those things to a fellow user, CM is allowed to take action. But if it is directed at CM, nothing can be done. Members can’t be warned, and CM cannot ban them. CM can’t even remove the post they made. The boss has decided to do this under the guise of wanting people to feel comfortable criticizing their site.

This policy is atrocious.

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“Never understood why companies block replies to confirmation emails,” my friend Ted Sindzinski recently remarked on Twitter. “Fastest path for help = better service = better name. Any time a customer is forced into ‘system,’ it’s going to frustrate. Figure out how to capture without them doing the work.”

I’m a believer in this. That is why my email address is the reply address on every automated email that my community software sends out – and has been for at least 13 years. Not just confirmation emails, but any sort of notification message, too.

Now, I’m not saying that you need to put a real email address on every automated email – but at the very least, you should do so for every email that requires an action. When you ask a person to complete an action via email, you should make it easier for them to contact you if they have a problem completing that action. There is no easier method than hitting reply.

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