6 slightly unconventional tips from my first year as a Community Manager

Posted on Posted in Community and Roadies, Soundwave News

by Roisin Mc Cormack

IMG_2588Howdy folks! My name is Roisin and I’ve been the Community Manager at Soundwave for the past 18 months now. In that time I’ve been involved in everything from beta testing and market research, to setting up our entire customer support system and rolling out a brand ambassador programme. Given that we have just passed our one-year Birthday since launch in June 2013, I thought I’d share some of my top tips (not the usual kind) on everything that I’ve learned so far. Please feel free to share this and comment – I love to chat and get feedback!

Now, I could go off and tell you about time management, CRM tools and how it’s crucial to love what you do but there are plenty of other articles that cover these essentials. I’d like to share some more ‘honest’ tips with you in the hope it will save you some possible procrastination, confusion and moments of doubt!

  1. Stop trying to figure out what a Community Manager actually is

 The simple reason is because the answer to this question is always changing. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read up on it and familiarise yourself with the scope of the role, but stop expecting to one day have that perfect, all-affirming response (especially if you’re in a start-up where things can change on a daily basis). One of the most helpful things for me has been meeting up and chatting with other CMs; pick some companies whose communities you admire and reach out to them! From seeing how other Community Managers learn what to focus on and prioritise, your own role and responsibilities will become clearer too.

(Some of my Community crushes include Threadless and Fitocracy)

  1. Stand up for your community!

In any team, the Community Manager should be seen as a representative between the company and its customers. When you have a couple of 100,000 users this can be a pretty big responsibility!

You need to make sure you are in the meetings where decisions that might affect users are being made. If your community have a problem or are shouting for a new feature then it’s up to you to make sure this gets back to your team. Likewise, you need to keep your community informed about changes on the app and news of what to expect so they’re not in the dark. Part of the value you bring to the team is that you act as ‘the voice of the community’, so SPEAK UP!

  1. Be a content squirrel

As a Community Manager you contact your users regularly and receive lots of quality feedback. While you can’t interrupt the whole team every time a customer says something funny or interesting, these nuggets can be priceless and shouldn’t fall through the cracks. Your team does need to hear these things so keep a log of all quality feedback (the good, the bad and the ugly) and share it with the team in a more efficient way; a weekly wrap-up or report might do the trick.

Customer feedback can also make for seriously rich content fillers down the line, so be sure to keep a record of it. When you’ve hit a creative wall, going through this type of feedback can be really inspiring. Think of it as stocking up for the winter!

  1. If you’re asking for it then LISTEN to it…

I’m very proud to say that here at Soundwave we read every piece of feedback that comes into us. This can be time-consuming and tedious so we make sure we’re getting value out of it by really listening to what users might be trying to say. Don’t just passively read feedback and assume you know what the issue or solution is. I know it sounds obvious but it can be easy to fall into this trap when the workload starts to pile up. If you’re not turning your feedback into something actionable then save both yourself and your community time and stop asking for it!

  1. Have fun!

Sometime last year I sent out an email to a bunch of our users that hadn’t logged into the app for a while. The email was something along the lines of ‘we haven’t seen you in a while and we miss you!’ One user named Victor replied ‘My ass, you miss me!’ so I sent him this:

We miss you Victor!

It got great responses on our blog and Twitter and lots of our users wanted their own personalised messages, still waiting for Victor to reply though…

  1. If you’re not talking to your Community then you’re not a Community Manager

I can’t stress this one enough, and I don’t even mean sending emails or providing customer support, I mean actually picking up the phone and talking to them or getting them to call into the office and stuffing them with tea and cake! If you are lucky enough to have people willing to chat and provide feedback then you’re crazy if you’re not talking to them. Heck, I even go for pints with them (and have consequently made a great friend, hi Carla!).


On that note, I’d like to wrap things up with a few pictures showing some of the feedback we get in. I’m no artist but I think these really convey the “emotional rollercoaster” that is customer feedback!

Thanks for reading! In case you hadn’t picked up on it already I love talking to people so please feel free to get in touch and say hi. You can email me at roisin@soundwave.me or politely stalk me on any of the following links:





5 thoughts on “6 slightly unconventional tips from my first year as a Community Manager

  1. Love your last point. A lot of CMs focus so much on responding but rarely take the time to just reach out to a few people and talk to them. Sounds like you’ve learned a lot of really important lessons in the first year and are definitely on the right track. Congrats and keep up the hard work (=

  2. Love this post! Points #2 and #4 really reasonate with me and go hand and hand. You can be amazing at recruiting new members. However, you will never build a raving community unless the members feel valued and appreciated for contributing. That simply starts with listening.

  3. Mаy I just say what a comfort to find a person that truly
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    You certainly understand how to bring an issue to light and
    mаke it important. A lot more ρeople ought to read this and understand this side of the story.
    It’s surprising you aren’t more popular sіnce you defіnitely possess the gіft.

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