The 7-point community manager’s checklist

This guide will help you do your job better. So print it out, or bookmark it. You’ll refer to it often.

Starting out in community management can be daunting. But I’ve come to help relax your nerves, and encourage you with this seven-point checklist to help you get started as a community manager.

I wish I had this checklist when I first started as a community manager years ago, so print it out, bookmark it, and refer to it as you get started.

1. Follow the right people.

What helped me as a novice community manager was finding blogs to read and the Twitter handles of those who were already in the game. Finding the right ones, however, took some time.

To find the right ones to follow and emulate, start by looking for the community managers behind the Facebook pages and Twitter accounts of brands you like. As you go through this process, you’ll find that some pages are more dynamic and engaging than others. Soon you’ll have a more refined list of go-to company pages managed by awesome community managers you’ll want to emulate. You can also find several community manager groups on Facebook that you can join.

The same goes for blogs. Many of those community managers blog for their company, but they may also have personal blogs where they discuss their methods and principles for community management. This is a great resource for insight on how to improve your social media strategy from people who already know. Subscribe to their feeds to make it easier to keep up with new posts.

You also need to follow the audience relevant to your brand: your customers, competitors, online influencers, etc. Find them on Twitter using hashtags, keywords, or search on Facebook for pages and groups you can join.

2. Turn your ideas into a strategy and write it down.

After you peruse other brand pages and blogs for ideas, write them into a strategy. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for you to get these ideas out of your head, and onto paper in a comprehensive strategy. This will help keep your eye on the ball, and help you get your colleagues on board, among other things.

3. Set your measurements.

Aside for the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How, think about what it is you want to measure. What does success look like? What are your goals? And what do you need to know?

Metrics will tell you, plain and simple, if your strategy worked. Just remember it’s OK if it doesn’t work all the time; metrics will help you decide on what to improve. Although metrics sounds boring, it’ll really help you waste less time because you won’t be changing tactics blindly. So think about what you’d like to measure, and adjust from there.

4. Create a calendar.

After you have a clear strategy, create a calendar of tactics. When and what will you post where? Do this at least a week in advance, and test. Back your calendar up with the metrics you find. Figure out what day of the week, at what time, and what kinds of posts seem to work better than others.

If you’re super busy, preschedule the posts to go out automatically, but make sure you’re online watching the comments so you can engage with your customers in real-time.

5. Engage!

All your work to get the right content posted online will only reap rewards if you respond to the people that engage with you. Always keep yourself logged into your Facebook page, Twitter account, and other sites you monitor during your workday. Plug this into your smartphone so you can get notifications when you go home. Unless someone is slotted to take your place, you really can’t ever be “unavailable” to respond.

Remember: Your goal is to catch your users when they’re online. If they’re ready to engage with you, be ready to engage back. They’re not on your clock; you’re on theirs.

It’s true that community management is a 24/7 job. Although you won’t always have to thank a fan’s like at 3 a.m., you may find yourself deleting an inappropriate post or responding to a customer service emergency in your off-hours. As a community manager, you’re on the frontline, and some things just can’t wait until Monday.

6. Sign up for events.

There are plenty of social media-related conferences and events for you to choose from—no matter where you live. Search for local seminars in your area where you can learn more about community management best practices from others in the field. If you can’t personally attend, find the hashtags they’ll be using, and engage in the conversation online.

You’re going to meet so many people. It takes effort, but it’s definitely worth your time. Make it a personal goal to participate in a local meet-up, happy hour, seminar, or conference at least once a month.

7. Keep up with trends.

Keeping up with online trends will be a big part of your strategy. Even though your company isn’t about creating online memes, or posting videos of your staff doing the Harlem Shake, the more you are aware of what’s going on in the interwebz, the better you will be at your job.

Why? Because online trends are always changing.

Today’s fad may not be relevant to your brand, but tomorrow’s may be. Who knows? There could be a mobile app that springs up to help your productivity, or a new social network that can help you better engage with your audience.

Ifdy Perez is a social media strategist with a specialty in community building. A version of this article originally appeared on the Vocus blog. Follow Perez on Google+.

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