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Building a community? Throw a party!

Posted by Chad O'Connor  August 20, 2013 11:00 AM

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Community building is like planning a party. And as the community manager, you play the role of “host.” The same rules for throwing a memorable party apply when working to grow your online presence, communicating a clear message, representing your brand, and making connections. To do all of this successfully, you must have the right disposition, the focus to convey a particular message, and the ability to make it all look effortless. Additionally, as the community manager, you have to be the life of the party.

The community manager must be gracious, lively, and have an innate desire to please. Possessing all of these qualities will help you to communicate a clear message and make lasting connections.

When throwing a party, your guests will have a range of needs, interests, and dietary restrictions. Just as a good host would have to accommodate all of these particulars, you must also be versatile enough to meet the needs of your followers.

Communication is one of the most essential “needs.” Careful communication requires being able to convey a central message to a diverse group. Your “invite” is your call to action. From that initial correspondence, your prospective followers will want to know, “What is this all about? Why should I come to your party?” You must use language that is broad enough to reach a large audience, but intimate enough to resonate with followers. Pique their interest with direct and enthusiastic language:

  • Join us at noon for a lunchtime #TweetChat on creating a work-life balance!

  • A strategy for work, a plan for life. Live discussion at 3pm ET!

  • Your best apps for prepping for meetings: Share your thoughts!

Once your intent is clear, people will understand the “theme” of your party and, hopefully, have a better understanding for what you are all about. Now, you have to hook them in.

Ask questions.
Like a good host, a community manager must show a genuine interest in their guests: their thoughts, needs, opinions, taste, etc. One of the best ways to convey interest is to ask questions, and, more importantly, to listen to their responses. Their answers are your ammunition for fueling the conversation. Your guests will not only feel appreciated by your consideration, but will feel also that their opinions are valued. Asking questions is an excellent method to keep the conversation (and the party) flowing.

  • What job perks do you wish your company would consider?

  • How do you unwind at the end of a stressful workweek?

  • The new Facebook hashtag: A successful marketing tool?

Use your followers’ responses not only to plan for relevant and provoking future conversations, but also to make changes for the present. As the community manager, how can you use this feedback to make necessary changes? What can you do to influence the present? How can you inspire and gain your followers’ trust? These are all questions you should have at the forefront of your mind when driving the conversation.

Just like when you throw a party, you bring people of different backgrounds, with different jobs, interests, and experiences to the same watering hole. Like a good host, it is your job as the community manager to introduce your guests to one another, make connections, and hopefully, form lasting relationships.

Introductions do not need to be blatant. Some of the best and most impressionable connections are made at the most basic level. That is to say, connect your guests on topics of personal interest. Rather than:

Hi Bob, this is Steve. His background in accounts management would make him a great asset for your team.


Bob, let me introduce you to a fellow Longhorns fan. Steve here grew up right outside of Austin. Steve, Bob received his MBA from University of Texas at Austin.

Of course, now that community management has moved to the virtual realm, the art of making these connections is that much more ambiguous. But play to your strengths –authenticity goes a long way! –to keep followers coming back to your party.

Shevaun Betzler is a Publishing Associate & Social Media Coordinator at Bibliomotion. She can be reached at

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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