The best community managers proactively focus on the processes that engage the most people, rather than letting issues with individual community members take up their time. However, even the most experienced community manager can't be fully in control of their schedule.
When you are responsible for providing value to both your community members and your organization, your day can often get derailed by changing market conditions, shifting business priorities, and surprise initiatives.
In addition to being pulled in different directions, online community managers are also somewhat at the mercy of the resources they need to support their community. It is not uncommon for community managers to rearrange part of their week to accommodate the schedules of content providers, events managers, and volunteer leaders.
Despite the number of hats that community managers have to wear, one of the most rewarding elements of managing a thriving online community is the impact you have on both your community members and your company's ability to achieve its major goals. Let's examine three ways that you can mitigate the time challenges of playing such a central role.
How to Succeed Among the Daily Chaos of an Active Online Community
From coordinating content and personally reaching out to community members to setting strategy and interpreting business-level results for senior management, community managers are responsible for dozens of deliverables each week.
Here are three simple ways that you can make sure that the tension of competing priorities doesn't get you too far off track.
Tip #1) Document Your Plan
Despite your best efforts to be proactive, there is no doubt that you are going to have days where the things you planned on doing get pushed aside temporarily. When you have your community management plan for the day, week, or month laid out, you can much more easily jump back into your to-do list when time allows even if it is only for a few minutes at the end of the day.
Tip #2) Learn to Be Organized
This might sound obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people are not naturally wired this way. Even if you are a type A personality, take a top-down look at your day and put systems in place to shore up areas where your day might go off the rails when you encounter a storm of demanding stakeholders.
Pro Tip: Color coding tasks based on priority, type of activity, or audience can help you stick to your community management plan, even if you have to step away for a few hours to attend to another priority.
Tip #3) Ask for Help
In my eyes, community managers are superheroes inside businesses for all that they touch and influence. However, even Batman needs Robin.
Community managers can't do everything by themselves. While they can manage the plan, they usually have to coordinate people across the organization to create content, engage members, and market the online community.
As the resources you need to execute the community management plan alongside other priorities ebb and flow, be prepared to reach out to the people you have relationships with inside your company and in your community to assist with the things that you need to get done.
Community Management Takeaway
In many years of managing online communities for companies, I have learned many lessons to help me succeed among the chaos of growing communities. To help you overcome the time management challenges that community professionals face, remembers these three guidelines:
- Force yourself to be as organized as possible (even if you already think of yourself as organized).
- Be deliberate in your community management process, rather than reactive.
- Be flexible, but don't lose sight of your community management plan.
In a dynamic organization that cares about building community, your central role means that you're never going to have full control over your day. Following these tips will both increase your job satisfaction and the impact you have on your organization.