Tell me the mistakes you made in your first Community Manager role

Often times ppl ask for tips. I want the tea on lessons y’all learned during your first year as a Community Manager :upside_down_face:.

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Generally speaking, my biggest mistakes have been trying to grow too big too fast.

For example in events, putting expectations to have lots of people attend. It just causes so much stress and makes the job not fun.

It’s better to grow sustainably and reliably, starting small with clear ambitions to grow.

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Where do I start? I guess this is more of a list of lessons, rather than mistakes.

  1. If someone RSVP’s to an event with a ‘Yes’, it’s actually just a ‘Maybe’.
  2. Growth shouldn’t happen through marketing to big crowds. It should happen by making your current small crowd feel like superstars.
  3. Automation kills small communities.
  4. “My community is so quiet now. I bet it’ll be more active when I grow. More people must mean more chances for conversation, right?” NOPE NOPE NOPE.
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Something I learned early on in my journey is that if a conversation in your community is getting heated, it’s always a good idea to take a beat and respond when you have had more time to think about what to say. It’s super easy to jump into replies quickly in order to calm folks down, but that seldom works and frequently leads to further upset.

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I posted about an upcoming event we were hosting in one of our Discord channels that sent a notification to everyone in the server (no idea why it was set up that way), and got a wild and vitriolic response from 4 people. They were beyond upset that they’d received a notification and that I’d interrupted their space.
Great lesson in regards to checking how your Discord is set up and recognizing that people don’t like push notifications much at all.

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Great question, @seemcat.

I’m still in my first year of my first ever Community Manager type role.

Given I’m still new to all this I wonder how many mistakes I’ve actually made without realising. :thinking::sweat_smile:

Often my mistakes revolve around not quite reading the room (of whatever platform I’m on) and I then struggle to find the words to express what I’m actually trying to say – or procrastinate on finding the “perfect reply”. I say something and it doesn’t quite land and I’ll need to clarify or edit it.

Another mistake, I default to “every member has positive intent”. And this has caught me out a few times with bad/spam actors. However, I’ve used them as opportunities to say “we don’t do that here, here are some things you could do instead”. And in one particular case it worked and that member turned around their approach. Other times I’ve been fortunate to rely on a rock solid Code of Conduct to expel bad actors from the community. I guess the mistake is I’m still trying to find the confidence to act faster on a spidey sense.

And one ongoing mistake is to still believe I can be in all the places all the time. It’s just not possible. The community I advocate for is across several platforms. So I try to find the balance between being present in all the places, amplifying and encouraging leadership roles/responsibilities within the community and stepping back to be strategic with my approach.

And I’m sure there are plenty more mistakes I’m yet to reflect on. :slightly_smiling_face:

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This really resonates, thanks for sharing.

I think with platforms like Slack/Discord there is an unnecessary pressure to always reply immediately. I’m a big fan of taking stock and coming back to something fresh (unless urgent action is required for a breach of Code of Conduct).

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I spent way too long trying to design the perfect community experience, with direct business impact.

Today I just start and figure it out with the members as I go. Not only do we now learn faster, we also see members take more ownership & adopt leadership roles quicker - because they’ve been involved in the build phase.

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When I got given two outsourced call center folk working remotely from India who’s English wasn’t great as my “moderation staff”, rather than put my foot down and demand it be done properly I took no for an answer and ended up doing all the moderation myself for about a year. This was a tech support forum for a massive international brand. Yes I did almost burn myself out trying to do everything why do you ask? :rofl:

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Some of the mistakes I have made are:

  • Forgetting to take care of myself and burning out. to help others, you need to be in good mental and health position.
  • Not being consistent with content
  • Not following up
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  1. Not being data-centric, I would say this community is successful because it “feels” like it, or members “seem/ look” happy. (I cringe so badly over the old Pixie)

  2. Giving “too much” creative freedom to community ambassadors/volunteers, I learned that it’s better to start out with a structure/templates to help people get started, instead of insisting the volunteers take ownership in creating a whole content plan from scratch when they join. Need to be mindful to not overwhelm them, since they are volunteering their time. Start easy, once they get the hang of the community, they will start organically creating new things. (Also need to be careful to not create too much structure as well)

  3. Not taking care of my mental health and respecting my boundaries, I was trying to be available for everyone at any time of the day and week, ended up getting seriously burnt out.

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THIS IS SUCH A VITAL LESSONNN!! (sorry I’m screaming.)

I’m super reactive, so it took me a fair few beatings to think of these, but now I’m a TAD even though just a small tad, better at recognising when to disengage.

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Relying on user research that someone else has done, building a community based on it, and not doing more research as I iterated.

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Yeah, this. I cringe when I recall some of my early days where I’d allow my emotional response to be typed out.

Now, no matter how heated or how much vitriol is being shared, I always take a breath and remain professional and calm.

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