4 Community Management Lessons Learned in 2015

As a Community Manager, you are on the front lines of your client’s online presence each and every day. You keep your phone with you at all times and are ready for a trending topic, a customer service issue, or tweet inspiration to strike at any moment. It’s a field in which you are constantly challenged by new things each day and you must learn from your experiences to make yourself and your community stronger. 2015 was no different.

Throughout the year, a few moments shone through as glimmering examples of what to do, what not to do and reminders of just how much responsibility a Community Manager can hold.

Let’s take a look at some of the lessons we learned as Community Managers in 2015:

1. A Masked Vigilante Can Say What You’ve Always Wanted To

As the voice for your client’s brand in social media, you are always expected to represent them in a way that is respectful and positive. Sometimes, however, you receive a certain comment or the attention of an over-zealous political action group where your preferred response would not align to the image you’re portraying. You would LOVE to speak your mind and tell them off, but alas, the struggle of the Community Manager to simply bite their tongue rears its ugly head and you must leave your true feelings fallen at your keyboard. This year, (at least) one hero came to the aid of Community Managers everywhere by posing as an unofficial spokesperson on pages that were seeing an abundance of complaints.

Please see some choice examples of our hero in action when Campbell’s Soup was targeted for an ad they ran featuring same-sex parents:

Campbells Soup Help 1


Campbells Soup Help 2

Lesson Learned: While you can’t always say the exact thing you’d like when acting as your brand, there is hope that a caped crusader may come to your aid in your time of need.

2. A Hashtag Can Take On A Life Of Its Own

This one feels like something we should all know by now, but yet again, a company inserts itself into a conversation that they aren’t welcomed to. This one took a different spin as Starbucks wanted to CREATE a new conversation in a highly volatile topic. Does it seem like Starbucks had no idea that this wouldn’t be well received by their fans or the greater internet? You’d be right.  In an interview, a Starbucks Strategy officer said the company did no market research to find out whether #RaceTogether would be something their community would respond to favorably. As you could guess, people did not think Starbucks and #RaceTogether were a fit and let the company know online and in stores.

Starbucks #RaceTogether

Lesson Learned: First and foremost, if you’re going to try and start a conversation about race in America, do a little research. Secondly, as a brand you have no control over how a hashtag or conversation can move or evolve over time. Starting with an authentic message that resonates with your community helps you keep things moving in a productive and positive way.

3. Your Content Is Most Effective Where Your Community Is Spending Their Time

It’s not ALL bad. Learning can come from people doing things correctly, as well.

While Snapchat is not a fit for every brand, the social media team at the University Of Michigan has found great success in community building and storytelling via the platform. Why have they had so much success? Outside of their engaging content and effective strategy (they used the platform to have different members of the university explain the new security procedures before the first football game this fall), the thing that may have made the biggest difference is an understanding of how and where their target audience is communicating. They continue to innovate with their content and have brought a personal touch to different events around campus, reaching students throughout the day.

UofM Snapchat 2

Lesson Learned: Pay attention! A little research and a lot of listening can lead to a winning strategy or content idea. Your community and the new members you’d like to attract to your social media channels are constantly sharing what they like, what they don’t like and what they’re doing.

4. Leave No Stone Unturned

At Ignite Social Media, one of our core values is “Buttoned Up.” To our Community Management team, this means that all details are checked and double-checked before anything goes live on our client’s social media channels. This year, Blackberry reminded us that no detail is TOO small when posting. Yes, we can see that you posted from an iPhone. Everyone can see that you posted from an iPhone. Blackberry should not be posting from an iPhone.


Lesson Learned: Once again…pay attention! Especially if you’re using a competitor’s product.

The role of the Community Manager is ever evolving and the learnings will continue to roll into 2016. That’s some of what we learned this year. What did you learn in 2015?

Ignite Social Media