Value your Managers!

4th July, 2014

Community Manager Another month rolls through and your inbox is swamped with email. The next browser tab is Twitter: inbox and notifications full. Next tab is Facebook: same scenario. In fact, unless you have the notifications turned off on your smart device, it has likely been continuously demanding your attention hour after hour, day after day. It is somewhat unsurprising though and is certainly symptomatic of our societal evolution into ‘the always on’ workforce, where services have equally developed to remain astride our pressured timetables: 24/7 coffee shops, insane high intensity training regimes and of course, the digital infrastructure that has enabled this scenario. We have now engaged in such a volume of continuous digital activity that individuals can suffer ‘digital burnout’ – very much an ailment of the 21st Century, but increasingly common.

The explosion of always on individuals has had its effect on the approach toward Market Research Online Communities (MROC’s) and their management, the individuals participating and their overall usage in prolonged market research. The idea behind burnout of any kind is driven by sustained exposure to a given source and the detritus this bombardment causes. This is not uncommon in market research where even pre-digitisation participants who were overused reported disengagement in surveying, which in turn leads to a drop off in feedback, answer length and survey completion. Digitisation has curated a scenario where participants are potentially always online, always available to answer a survey and due to this increased exposure likely to encounter burnout at a much higher rate than in the past.

Gauging the rate of participant engagement can be problematic. The need for engagement requires a relatively constant stream of captivating content to allow for the richest mixture of data, though this constant stream can be equally off-putting for some if their desire to interact begins to fall. Similarly, an engaging MROC should be easily accessible via desktop and mobile devices without being intrusive in its demands for engagement. Monitoring, maintaining and developing market research content can be equally challenging and whilst we understand that participants are likely to become jaded overtime, so too can the community managers themselves.

The role of the Community Manager is certainly undervalued and it is a role that is exposed to the many pressures of the always on, digitised society, especially if they are good at maintaining, developing and engaging their community. Consider the Community Manager must:

  • Act as Brand Ambassador in each social interaction
  • Monitor brand relations across multiple social media outlets
  • Deploy outstanding communication skills to engage participants
  • Continually project passion for their role within the community
  • Maintain their consistent desire to attract individuals, whilst helping existing community members
  • And, despite everything said in this article, be relatively open to their working hours (within reason!)

Just as we shouldn’t expect our participants to be consistently answering questions, neither should the community managers be exposed to the sometimes continual stream of digital consciousness either. It seems that in both instances, our digitised society realises the value of a cognitively rested manager and participants, as well as understanding the overall benefits that being generally rested bring.

Because – and let’s face it – the insight will still be there tomorrow. The community will still be intact in the morning. Questions will still be answered (and asked) but those brief moments of down time can help not only recharge batteries, but help us take stock and seek insight into our own actions: our own lives.