I think the biggest difference between someone that does a good job and someone that does an excellent job is how they handle the bad times. On the Internet, it’s only a matter of time before you have to deal with really negative stuff. Whether it’s real, perceived or total baloney, it has to be managed and the art of managing it is what separates the men from the boys. Here are a couple of tips I’ve learned from being a community manager:

5. Pleasing Unhappy Members – People join communities for a reason. If they are unhappy, it’s because that reason is not being met. Find out why they joined and why they are currently unhappy. Were they expecting more handholding? Are they confused by what to do? Do they feel overwhelmed by options or underwhelmed by activity? It isn’t your job to bend to every wish members have. However, if you find out what those wishes are, you can either explain to them how to achieve it, or better explain why the community isn’t able to help them at that point in time.

4. Giving Great Customer Service – People join communities to interact, learn and feel empowered. With every new member and with everything you do, if you keep this in mind, you’d be hard pressed to do a better job. Talk to everyone, teach them something new, give them ideas on how they share their knowledge with others and connect members with each other. It is as simple as that, but it is hard work. That’s why someone is paying you to do it!

3. Banishing Trolls – My mother has taught me the most useful things I know. One of my favourite mom expressions is, “He’s not crying, he’s just expressing himself.” True enough, when you encounter a troll, they are usually just trying to be heard. So listen. Send them a personal message asking them how they are doing, what they’d like to get out of the community and how you can help. Often times, people are excited about participating, but are confused as to what is appropriate. Sometimes, people are upset about feeling slighted. You can help fix this. I’ve found that trolls often turn out to be your biggest fan if you give them a chance. Make that your goal and see how far you get.

2. Entertaining during Downtime – There’s not much you can do when your site goes down, but you can communicate what the problem is, how long you expect it to be before it’s fixed and suggest things for people to do in the meantime. Be honest, update your community often and don’t lose your sense of humour. After the situation is resolved, be sure to follow up and explain what measures you’re taking so it doesn’t happen again.

1. Dealing with Bad Press – I’m pretty sure this is why smart phones were really invented. Time is of the essence. The faster you can speak to the author, the better. If the information is false, do not give up until you get the author to retract or correct the article. If it is online, insist corrections or retractions go in the same article, even if the author is planning on posting something else. If the information written is true, ask the author to post an interview from your point of view. In addition, post something to every social media network you use and plan on explaining the situation in a clear, concise (and honest) manner. If it will be an ongoing situation, explain that you will update the blog as often as possible. People want reassurance that you are aware of what is going on. Give it to them.

Is it always bad? No, but when it is, it’s usually pretty bad. It can feel like you go for days saying the same things over and over again. Stay the course and keep repeating your message. Responding to everyone that says something nice about you is great, but responding to everyone that says something horrible about you is imperative.