Our Blog

The official Motribe blog, written by the founders

June 28

What does a community manager do, anyway?
The role of community manager is a little like being the host of a party, where the ‘guests’ are the members of the online community. A good host will send out invitations and let guests know what the dress code is. When the guests arrive, the host will welcome them, make them feel comfortable and introduce them all to each other. And, just like at most parties, your online community will contain a mix of the following types of ‘guest’:

• the VIPs (these are the key influencers in your community);
• the ‘drunk uncle’ who embarrasses you, constantly repeats himself and tries to hit on everyone (in community terms, this is your spammer);
• at least one person who’s always looking to start a fight (this is your troll)
• gatecrashers (these are the uninvited people who somehow always find a way around your firewall);
• the bouncers whose job it is to keep the gatecrashers out (you can appoint members of your community to fulfil this role); and
• the couples who sneak off for a snog at the bottom of the garden (yes, cupid hangs around online communities too!)

Apart from this, the host also has to ensure that the mood and ambience of the party are in keeping with the theme.

How is managing a mobile community different from other online communities?
Communities are networks that connect its members together and provide support and a sense of identity and belonging. Just to be clear, your Facebook page isn’t a community as that relationship is between a brand – Facebook – and an individual – you. A community is a place in which the relationships are built between the members themselves.

In traditional online communities, location and time affect member participation. In a mobile community, because members can connect with each other no matter where they are, and no matter what time of the day it is, there is a greater need for quick responses. Instant messaging enables mobile users to chat with groups while on the move, and the micro-blogging function allows members to post content even while they’re in the supermarket or at the gym.

Mobile community managers need to have an understanding of people’s behaviour towards their mobile devices and also consider that not all members have smartphones.

What’s your biggest challenge right now?
This is not a 9 to 5 job: the Internet never sleeps. There’s no instant ‘just-add-water’ fix to community management…it takes time. ‘Ghost’ communities are also a challenge – deciding whether to close down a community or try to revive it sometimes makes me lose sleep at night. I have to ask myself how closing the community will affect those few people who are still engaging in it.

What’s the good news?
People are fundamentally good and will rally around a good cause. Last week Hiro, a guy who lives in Japan, realised he was in love with a girl he lost touch with about a year ago. With the help of the other members he was able to find Jennifer, who now lives in the US. This wasn’t just about two people reuniting; it was about a community of 54 040 members connecting and working together to make that happen. This has to be one of the most rewarding aspects of my job.

What makes a good community manager?
You have to understand what makes people tick, and you must know how your actions will affect their behaviour. A good community manager must have an understanding of psychology, group dynamics, sociology, technology and to a lesser degree, social media.

The future of mobile communities – what does it look like?
Look around you; people everywhere are glued to their mobile devices. Good etiquette or not, there’s no way of stopping it. I see more people moving away from traditional social networks and joining mobile communities purely because mobile communities allow them to develop more intimate relationships with each other and to share more private information. Why? Perhaps because they always have a mobile devices with them, or maybe it’s because there’s less pressure to portray the ‘perfect life’ to ‘friends.’

I think there’ll also be an increased demand for specialised private mobile communities, and that mobile communities will come to the forefront of customer research and retention.

Brands need to come to the party by understanding consumers’ behaviours, media and mobile usage. Technology greatly influences how people act - simply by making it possible. After all, as the saying goes, “If you build it, they will come!”