More and more companies are adding Community Managers to their executive ranks.
Melle sees the community manager providing a bridge between the different functions within a company and its community of users. In doing this, her first objective is to help users develop a sense of community with the company and one another. “Having a users base doesn’t necessarily mean you have a community,” Melanie pointed out. “If you can get a community going, then you know you are on the right track.”
Melanie has been impressed with the AideRSS users she’s met so far, “with the amount of passion they have, what they’re willing to do for you, the lengths they’re willing to go to try to make something work.” She notes that such dedicated users are valuable to a company like AideRSS. “You’d have to have an entire Quality Assurance department for that kind of stuff or massive amounts of developers hours to solve some of those things.”
Helping these supportive users also has a reputational benefit to the company. Says Melanie, “If you listen to them, if you try to help them solve a problem or get them up and running … they become passionate. And as soon as they become passionate, they help evangelize for you. … The word of mouth of your friends is the most powerful influence there is. It’s fantastic.”
How does Melle connect with the community? “I have to be one of those early adopters who jumps on everything.” She writes for the AideRSS blog, maintains an AideRSS Facebook page and two Twitter accounts – AideRSS and Melle. She’s also a big fan of Get Satisfaction, where AideRSS maintains an active support forum. “It’s really effective for connecting with people, whether they have a question, just want to tell us something, or have a problem.”
And as new social apps appear, Melle believes she needs to “try them out, see if people are migrating there, and see if they want to talk to you there. If that’s where people are going to hang out, then that’s where you need to be.”
On a day to day basis, Melle sees different social apps working together in combination. “Twitter is easy for someone to ask me a quick question or mention a problem. Then … it migrates to a different format. It either goes into Get Satisfaction where it is officially logged. Or someone may have a longer question, so they email me. Or we start up an Instant Messenger chat. … That combination of tools is how things realy end up working. It’s important to be on a variety of platforms. It’s also important to be flexible to move between them to whichever format [of communication] is most comfortable for people.”