Last week, I had an interview for a Community Manager role with a global business, based here in the North East.
Excitingly, I’ve been asked back for a second interview! But until very recently, the role of a Community Manager hadn’t been on my radar at all. I wasn’t aware of the term, or the role a CM plays in the overall marketing/PR strategy of a brand. But I quickly learned, all thanks to one person.
So, unless you’ve been living under a rock (which, in a weird way I guess we have all been for the last year or so, so I guess you could be forgiven), you’ll have no doubt heard of the phenomenon that is Among Us – the addictive game where you play as a little space being, stuck on a space ship with 9 other beings, but there’s a traitor in your midst and it’s up to you and your companions to figure out who they are before they finish you off.
Or, you play as the killer and sleuth your way around the ship, killing strategically as to avoid capture and pointing the finger elsewhere, framing the innocent for your deeds, calling them out for being ‘sus’.
All that aside, Among Us has done an outstanding job at becoming a viral hit after streaming giant Chance Morris, aka Sodapoppin, propelled the game back into the limelight after an initial lukewarm release in 2018, quickly followed by a whole host of his streaming associates, like xQcOW, Pokimane, Disguised Toast, Corpse Husband… the list is endless. The game grew so much in popularity that it barged it’s way into more poplar culture, adding the likes of AOC and Jimmy Fallon to it’s player roster.
But something that stood out to me through all of this was the way the team behind Among Us used their social media. The Among Us account was playful, cheeky, it really seemed to make the game come alive and give it a voice.
In December 2020, it was revealed that Innersloth, the devs behind Among Us, had introduced a new member to the team – Victoria Tran. Victoria was stepping in to fill the role of Community Director, and it was this announcement that introduced me to the idea of a community director/manager.
Luckily for me, Victoria is very vocal on her own social media about her job, the struggles, the triumphs, and her thought process behind the work she does. It’s genuinely fascinating and I highly recommend you check out her Twitter or blog if you haven’t already.
With all of that in mind, I wanted to make a note of the 5 key areas that a community manager can be integral to the success of a brands communications, and how it can work side by saide with PR:
1 – Community Management taps into all 4 spheres of PESO
One of the central purposes of community management is to nurture a two-way dialogue with fans/customers. If that relationship is built successfully, there’s an open pool to share owned content, but from there have the community re-distribute that content themselves, discuss between themselves, use that content to bring others into the community.
The Among Us Twitter is the perfect example of this, with fans regularly submitting their own fan art or other creative endeavors, which in turn is shared not only by the Among Us account, but by other members of the community. Community content can then be promoted via paid channels, used in promotional material or may attract external attention from bloggers, influencers or other media relations.
2- Community Manager’s help to set the tone of voice for the brand
Setting the tone of voice for a band on social media can be tricky endeavor. Cheeky, serious, educational, humorous? How do you decide on which tone to adopt, and more importantly, how to be consistent with it? Enter, Community Manager.
As Victoria herself puts it in her blog – “It’s a mix of wanting to respect the vision and tone the devs have for the game, and not trying to twist the community focus so it becomes all about “me”. Yes, I will ultimately set the tone, but just like how game design can be helped by drawing inspiration from other roles on the team, community can also be influenced by the core values of the team.”
3 – Community Managers can help to steer the conversation in times of crisis
It’s no secret that social media can be an absolute minefield of hate, abuse, anger and frustration. If something goes wrong, a brands social media channels are the first place people will go to express their emotions. A CM holds a significant role within this. There are many who would disregard community management as little more than a customer service role, but being the online voice of a brand requires more than just good customer service skills.
Having a grasp on what to say, how to say it and when to say it can have a massive impact on how the brand is seen before, during and after a crisis. Making sure that customers know there is a real person being the keyboard, keeping an empathetic nature and fostering that community relationship through the hard times is what makes a CM so much more than just customer service.
4 – Community Managers promote accessibility
In February, Sprout Social reported that 21% of consumers are more likely to purchase from brands that are accessible via social media, and I think this is a statistic that we will see continue to rise. As more and more customers shun the high street in favour of their online counterparts, how do we replace that personable feeling you get when you walk through shop entrance?
A community manager acts as a bridge between the brand, and the consumer, and with that comes the opportunity to create strong consumer relationships through a community that is always around when you need them.
It’s an opportunity to be proactive, to seek customers out in their time of need and offer them a channel of communication to air their thoughts, feelings and opinions, whether they are positive or negative.
5 – It provides an opportunity to work constructively with PR teams to build external relations
Community managers + PR practitioners = a match made in heaven. How so?
Particularly in times of crisis, PR and community managers can work hand in hand to ensure a cohesive approach to a recovery strategy. Alongside this, both areas have an opportunity to connect with the press. Community management doesn’t have to be solely for consumers, it provides a key opportunity to promote healthy relationships and networking opportunities with external media relations, again tapping into those earned and shared media spheres.
When both sides are working towards the same goal, it shows in the brands communications, which can be relayed to consumers and acts as a beacon for trust and integrity.
Watching Victoria jump into her role with Innersloth with both feet and crack on building a successful online community has been such an inspiration, and I’m looking forward to following along while she continues to develop the Among Us brand.
What are your thoughts on community management? Do you see it as little more than online customer service, or a strategic tool to foster real relationships between organisations and their communities?
Would love to hear your thoughts.
Until next time,
Banner image source – https://www.pockettactics.com/among-us/logo
GIF source – GIPHY