I was recently talking with Lionel Scaramal, the long-time manager of Forum-Auto.com for Caradisiac. Specifically, I asked him for perspective on the community management profession in France and the good things he sees, as well as the bad.
He mentioned that he regularly sees community managers bashing other community managers. I thought this was interesting and I asked him to tell me more. He was kind enough to write a guest post.
You know what really grinds my gears? It’s what I will call “CM bashing.” Community managers who often make a public show of pointing out and trumpeting mistakes made by other community managers.
In managing online communities, we all have users who think they can do our job better than we can. And many people think that because they are on Facebook, Twitter or your forums, they are entitled to provide poor, unsolicited pieces of advice. OK, I can understand that, to a certain extent.
But I can’t understand why some of my fellow community managers spend most of their time pointing out mistakes I or other community managers have made. As far as I know, it’s the only job where people think it’s part of their job to criticize their peers.
Many (most?) of the brand “fails” you see on Twitter or Facebook or in articles are first pointed out by community managers or people working in online marketing. How is this giving the general public a positive image of our job?
We are constantly pointing out mistakes, “fails” and what we absolutely must avoid in our profession. And this is what we show the world. “Bad community management… bad community management everywhere!”
Why don’t we show more best practices? Why don’t we focus on giving good advice and on drawing attention to people who are doing a great job?
Every time I see a community manager bashing another community manager, here is what I understand: “Look! I will do a better job than him! Give me his job!” Sometimes I pick up a hint of jealousy. One community manager told me that their company received an unsolicited job application for their job from the same person who was pointing out “fails” on Twitter. In other words, they tried to create a bad buzz in an effort to make a job opening for themselves.
If, to show our skills, we must crush our peers, that reflects poorly on us as community managers.
I believe that the first skill of a good community manager is empathy. We do our best to understand our members, including the trolls. So I don’t understand why it is so hard to put ourselves in the shoes of another community manager.
We all make mistakes. And we all know how challenging our role can be. We have enough trolls to deal with – so we have to stop trolling the people who have the same job as we do. When we think we know the right way to manage a crisis, instead of making it about us, we should contact the community manager in private and give her support and/or pieces of advice. Besides being kinder and more respectful, it will also more positively represent our profession to those in and outside of it.