2013: Year of the Community Manager

By Rindaanne Riccio

In previous years, we have seen some major slip ups in Social Media. It seems like we have seen it all before: a rude tweet sent out or a Facebook status not meant to be posted. No matter how bad the situation seems to be, we can all agree on one thing; careless community management needs to stop.

As a Community Manager, the first thing you are taught is everything you post, in a matter of seconds can be seen by millions and screen shotted by anyone. You should handle each person and brand with care because you never know the consequence of one bad judgement call. Let’s review some of the bad from 2012 to make sure that we can have a year free of brand embarrassment and/or damage control.

1. K-Mart’s Not So Smart Move

During K-Mart’s Twitter chat about children’s toys, the unfortunate events of the #Newtown school shooting had occurred. Of course, K-Mart had no idea such a tragedy would occur during their chat. The retailer could have handled things with more respect and care. As a Community Manager and the voice of your brand’s page, here is where common sense should come into play. Sending out a tweet using your twitter chat hashtag shows you are self promoting and then continuing the chat shows you were insincere in your sympathetic tweet.

Immediately ending the chat would have been in their best interest. The tweet (seen below) they sent out after the backlash, should have been the first one they posted. It is so much better to be safe than sorry! In situations like these, it is best to be respectful and most importantly, timing is everything. You do not want to be too quick to express condolences but you also want to let your fan base know you are aware of what is going on and you do sincerely care about the events that have occurred.

2. A Toyota Camry Negative Effect

Toyota created a series of accounts @CamryEffect, @CamryEffect1,@CamryEffect2, @CamryEffect3, @CamryEffect4, and @CamryEffect5 to promote their new giveaway. However, they were spamming more so than promoting.

Let me just start off by saying that as someone who adores Twitter and tweets on behalf of a brand, spamming is one of the WORST things you can do as a brand. Promoting and spamming are not the same thing. The beauty of being a CM is you are not a robot which means you can have actual conversations with your audience, thus building brand credibility and brand loyalty. You can find that when you start to actively reach out to your audience in a personal way, the response is more positive because they feel you took the time to “talk with them” and not at them.

3. Montana’s Facebook Swap

This is a careless mistake that could have been prevented if the person had just looked up at their computer screen. Facebook allows you to use your brand as your own page so that as the manager, you can better navigate your platform. Mistakes like these are avoidable by simply double checking before posting.

No one is perfect and clearly, everyone makes mistakes but to use a quote from Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility.” For a community manager, this means you should always be on guard when managing your pages and pay close attention to details. A brand reputation can take months to build and seconds to destroy so I say let’s learn from these mistakes and have a successful year filled with focused and dedicated community managers. This will create happier fans thus creating happier brands.


What other tips do you think are important when managing a brand’s social media platform? 

To learn community management best practices, download our free eBook here.

Kyle S January 9, 2013
Great post! I have to wonder if some of the "Accidental Tweets" like #3 are calculated moves on the brands part to effectively generate publicity? I think in a case like this, the community clearly knows this was a mistake - so very little damage is being done to the brand while they get a tremendous amount of publicity. Some other examples may be more damaging (Kenneth Cole, Gap, etc.), but this is some relatively harmless personal drama - kind of funny - and generates buzz about the brand. Also, for me, #1 begs the question: to what extent are companies investing TRUST in the Community Manager to MAKE DECISIONS? It seems feasible to me that Kmart may have a culture rooted in hierarchal decison-making. I could be totally wrong having never done business with Kmart and knowing nothing about their social media program, but in my experiences elsewhere it certainly seems plausible that the instruction to the CM may have been to conduct the toy chat and that CM may not feel empowered to make a decision like shutting down the chat? If the "decision-maker" is unavailable to answer the question: "should I cancel this chat given today's events?" then the CM may have struggled to reach a decision as to what to do. Maybe companies need to start doing a better job of empowering the folks with the keys to social media rather than dictating what they do? After all, the community manager is the one "in the trenches" and closest to the community - don't you think that person knows what's best for the community and should be allowed to make those kinds of decisions? All too often there are agencies hundreds of miles away from the CMs writing content and trying to "build the community" when the reality is that a model like that delays the necessary real-time decision making that social media demands - this should be owned by those that are actually involved directly, eh?!?
rindaanne hope January 10, 2013
I really love your comment here, Kyle. You bring up so many interesting points. First off- I never really thought perhaps it was to raise buzz? It does seem very possible considering most people did make a joke of it. As for K-Mart, You are 100% correct. Who is the decision maker here? I can't help but wonder though- If the CM was struggling to make such a decision, wouldn't it have been better to not go forward with the chat and then if people were to attack KMART (which we know is definitely likely to happen), KMART could have simply said that they wanted to be respectful of these tragic acts and are in the process of keeping their followers updated when the chat will be rescheduled to? I just always feel it is best to be safe than sorry. Which backlash would you rather deal with? The one where people yell at you for not hosting a chat or the one where you are seen and cruel and heartless people? One is easier to repair. I DO believe that the one who knows the community best should be able to hold a little more power in making these decisions. As for the CM & brands far away, I feel it is okay to have this relationship because near or far- communication is key. Whether they are 1000 miles away and you need to send the e-mail to approve something or they are right next to you, you still need the approval. It just still comes down to communicating effectively and efficiently. Being a CM is not just responding to a fan or follower but it is being able to represent your brand and make sure things get done internally for your client/brand. Thank you so much for this input. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts! :)
Peter Kelly January 7, 2013
I just don't understand the errors like the number 3. I mean are those people so stupid or has it been just some reckless behavior, or I don't know. These things just can't happen. An online reputation is so much valuable you can't let just someone to be your community manager. You have to be very cautious before selecting someone to do this job for you.
rindaanne hope January 10, 2013
I agree, Michael. Being a CM is also a matter of "Do you match this brand?" because like you said, being cautious in selecting the CM is important and this should be a factor considered. I Don't really understand how error like #3 can occur but unfortunately they do. I just hope these mistakes are learned from. Thanks for the feedback and your thoughts!
paulaschuck January 6, 2013
These are great tips. It is also in your best interest to make sure that as community manager your business twitter feeds and accounts are not accessible by your children ( you don't want them posting accidentally on a Brand's account. And put the job away if you are drinking, tired or ill. Mistakes happen that way. No drunken tweeting is just a good rule for most people.
rindaanne hope January 10, 2013
I could not agree with this more!!!! You would think that this is kind of "obvious" but I am sure this has happened before. Excellent tips! :)
Ryan M. Meyers January 6, 2013
What do you think about having your brand handle promoted on your personal Twitter? I.e. Community Manager for @_____. Also, do you need to have "All thoughts/tweets are my own" on your own profile?
rindaanne hope January 10, 2013
Excellent question, Ryan. Personally? I think its okay to promote who you work for. IE- I have that I work for @LikeableMedia HOWEVER, I never say via Twitter bio I am the CM or the voice for [insert brand/page here] simply because I feel there should be some things that remain hidden or private. Unless the brand wants you to announce it or encourages you making that public. I just feel that it is my job and I am not "Rinda" when I am using that page or posting on behalf of it so why reveal/promote it? I can totally see why some people do and I absolutely respect that decision. For me, I just would rather keep that private. I do not have the "All Thoughts/Tweets are my own" simply because I feel that since it is my personal handle- that is kind of a given. What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts on these questions!
Jason January 4, 2013
Correction. Newton happened several hours before KMart's chat, and they insensitively carried on anyway hosting a chat about children's toys. They had all morning and early afternoon to reschedule, but waited until the chat had 10 minutes left to finally pull the plug, and then that's when they had an issue.
rindaanne hope January 10, 2013
Thanks so much for clarifying that, Jason! I definitely agree. The CM here should have known better especially if they knew about the shootings going into this chat.

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