Your personal life can sometimes make you realize your daily job is truly wonderful. I've been a community manager for years, but my sweet daughter made me understand how important it is to keep your sills to their highest standards.
My daughter came back from our week-end to her great-grandmother completely sick. Running nose, vomits, coughs from hell, you name it. This happened just when the trip back home lasted 12 hours instead of the 5 hours planned. Some poor lad had an accident on the highway. Our baby girl went crazy seeing her whole day go into the backsit of our car.
It was 9PM. The following day, I had to go to DigiWorld Summit 2015 by IDATE. People from Google, AirBnB, Booking.com and more would talk about disruptive technology. Great talks to give me further insights into where Community Management could be heading. I also hoped to grab a few C-suite attention to help them go further with their efforts on Social Media.
The night was, as you'd expect, quite the nightmare. My girl Louise wouldn't stop crying, coughing, standing up, inconsolable. As it is our first child, even if we take great care of our baby girl, we are total noobs at parenting. We just knew that it was now 11PM and she was sick but didn't need urgent GP consulting. So we decided to take her with us, in our bed. And there I was, managing my own personal community of four without realizing it. Me, my fiancée, our baby and our cat.
The baby - aka "The Support Seeker"
Louise was in deep pain. She couldn't hold her comforter, suck on her thumb and breathe at the same time. The nose or the mouth was needed to let the air flow in and out, and your typical grunt for this job, the nose, was on a strike. Tough luck, there's no sleep without her thumb sheathed into her mouth.
Eventually, she's like your customers that are in need of support:
- She has an issue;
- She tried solving it herself;
- She doesn't know how to solve it;
- She turns to anyone willing to give her support.
I took my responsibilities and made a few simple moves to help her the best. I had to make do with what I had to hand, and what I had was slim.
- I gave her my thumb to play with to make her lose focus on her pain;
- I removed mucus in a matter of seconds every time she sneezed to relieve her;
- I placed her at ease, on the side, close to me, so that she can feel my warmth, feels protected and taken care of.
It's easier said than done, but we made huge progress. We had rounds of 10 minutes where she'd sleep, and then wake back up crying.
The cat - aka "The Socially Smart"
OK, so my one-eyed cat is in love with me. I've rescued her from that place where she'd had survived only a few weeks. Since then, I'm her motherfather. There's not a single day without her getting on my lap to "make bread" (cat owners, you know what I'm talking about). It's a cat thing.
If we think of her as a community member, she's much like the socially smart subgroup.
- She likes to hang around;
- She tries to be always the focus of conversation;
- She is comfortable with anyone around;
- She cares more about socializing than helping;
- She distracts the Community Manager from his job.
My cat, just like socially smart people, is helpful on many levels. In this situation, I had an urgent support ticket to deal with, and I just couldn't afford having her around. Socially smart people create strong bonds within the community. They can help you and your other customers just by being present and chatty. But at times of crisis, we have to cut some of the noise to get a clear message standing out.
So with a smooth and delicate arm gesture, I invited her to leave the back of my knees. She decided to leave the bed and sleep on the living room's couch.
The fiancée - aka "The Passive Watcher" (in this case)
She was worn out from the day we spent. My beautiful and "soon™-to-be-wife" is usually able to withstand a lot of pressure. Tonight, it wasn't the case. She only wanted to sleep.
I realized that this night, she was just like passive users in a community:
- She's not involving herself with any of the subgroups;
- She's aware of raised issues, even though she doesn't act upon them;
- She watches how the Community Manager would support others to make her own opinion.
It's totally fine. I'm there too for our daughter and this night I had to act. As explained sooner, I took extra care of our daughter. After a while, I realized that I could be the family's community manager. I decided to apply a trick I keep up my sleeves in case I need support to be more efficient. After all, I too need to sleep, and the program I had was quite stressful without adding a sleepless night on top of it.
I whispered to her if she wanted me to show her how I'm making Louise feel good, resuming her sleep rather easily. She was OK with the idea, and I explained her. When Louise woke up again, crying and coughing, we've helped her together. It was a positive experience, and my fiancée was happy to see it work.
You too can do that, sometimes, with your community. Show them how they can contribute, how they can help by the simplest of things. Walk hand in hand with them through their learning. Show them how to help, and they will. Congratulations, you've just crowdsourced part of your support.
Conclusion: care for your community!
This situation was a splendid example of how a community behaves. You know, this interactive flow happening between different members of the same community. Most of the time, life just goes on and everything is alright. Other times, the community needs help, and using the adequate reaction can go a long way.
Your actions as a Community Manager can have a deep effect on how things go for your community. While things may run without you for a while, you are a member of your community, with an extra twist. Provide support to those in dire need for help. Provide the tools to others to create a supportive feeling. This way, you will only strengthen the bonds between the community members. And these bonds are influencing metrics such as user acquisition and retention.
If you are concerned about our little sunshine, she has recovered and has almost too much energy now!