Been craving some community management advice? Good thing, because we've got some scenarios we think you might find relatable. Maybe you’ve got product enhancement requests coming out of your ears – maybe you’ve got a record lack of participation. Whatever it is, how do you respond to these kinds of challenges in your online community?
Four of our community managers are here to share real-life scenarios like these that they’ve worked through. They share the tactics they tried and recommend, and the outcomes they achieved.
Scenario #1: The Overwhelming Enhancement Request Backlog
Will Machin: Does this describe you? As a community manager for a tech company, you use your online community for customer feedback, but customers submit so many enhancement requests that your backlog is impossible. Your list of projects for the product team is so long you’re not sure they’ll be able to finish them even if they skipped lunch and stayed late for two years. You’re wondering how you should organize, compile, and execute the feedback you get in the community.
If you’re facing this kind of challenge, here are some tactics I recommend:
- Use the polling function to solicit feedback about direct issues.
- Create a landing page for community members to rank the recommendations for enhancement.
- Require participants to log into the community, so that you’re also driving community account creation.
These tactics can help you gather and sort feedback efficiently, and lead to a few other outcomes:
- Your product team will gain insight into most relevant thoughts of their customers on key product improvements.
- Your product users will feel heard by the company and can actively affect change.
- You promote community engagement by leading them to the community to participate in survey.
Scenario #2: Feedback, Feedback Everywhere, But Not Enough to Act On
Annie Moncure: Have you ever found yourself in this situation? You’re a membership-based organization with an online community. Your users provide similar feedback, but it’s very general, and they don’t give you anything to act on. Because it’s not tangible feedback, you can’t do much to satisfy it, so your users get frustrated because they feel like there’s a lack of change in the community.
Here’s what I recommend:
- Invite specific users to a private, focus group community where users can provide feedback and employees can ask follow-up questions.
- When you receive feedback, consolidate it and decide on action items the internal community team can facilitate.
- Keep your focus groups updated on changes you’re making based on their feedback.
With time, you’ll start to see a few benefits:
- You’ll consolidate the majority of all your feedback in one place, instead of receiving it intermittently in the open forum.
- You’ll promote ongoing conversation between the users and the organization.
- You’ll create an environment of feedback, and the focus group users will feel like they have VIP access, creating an increased sense of ownership. (And we all know customer loyalty needs ownership – check out Jackie’s keynote from Super Forum to learn more.)
Scenario #3: Ghost Town AMA – Lack of Participation
Emily Stamm: Picture this: You planned an AMA with an expert on a topic you thought members would love and engage with. But after months of planning, posting, requesting seed questions, and reaching out to ambassadors, you don’t have any seeded material for the AMA – just crickets. What do you do?
Try some of these tactics:
- Announce your AMA, call for seed questions, and ask again. Be persistent!
- Start the planning process by surveying your community for topic interests.
- Be open with your experts and participants. It’s okay to share that you’re having issues with the topic or participation.
- Include more than one expert if you need to (especially if it’s a complex topic). That way, if things are quiet, they can play off each other.
- And most importantly, have a backup plan in case you don’t get traction.
- Finally, reflect on successes and failures – what was my initial goal? Did I reach that goal? What were the steps I took?
Tip: In Emily’s case, they developed a backup plan and reframed the AMA session and description. Instead of doing a Q&A with the audience, they had two topic experts discuss in real time.
- You create a valuable resource for the community.
- You help yourself in the planning process by creating a plan B and some wiggle room.
- You’re producing an event on a topic you already know members were interested in, making the whole process easier on you.
Scenario #4: Your Q&A Flops
Lindsay Starke: You want to run a Q&A, but your promotion and questions feel canned, rather than organic. Your expert’s presentation doesn’t appeal to the community members. How can you make sure your Q&A doesn’t fall into this trap?
To take your Q&A to the next level, I’d recommend that you:
- Keep the title of the post organic – it’s not a marketing info piece.
- Generate the Q&A based on user interest in a certain topic.
- Keep your announcement short, sweet, and clear.
- Coach your expert! As the community manager, you can help your expert understand how to communicate with your users.
- Tap people in advance to answer questions.
- You improve participation and engagement, because members respond better to organic content that’s tailored for them.
- You provide your members with the content that’s valuable to them.
If You're Looking for More Tips...
If you’re facing a lot of challenges in your community, you might be feeling burned out. Being a community manager comes with specific challenges that most of your friends or colleagues don’t get. And that’s why we want to help you by sharing resources, strategies, and solutions. Check out our Customer Engagement Blueprint, available below.