It requires unwavering patience. Patience towards users, who complain of bugs in the product, which you can’t control. There’s also a kind of patience with your development team that they will address and fix those lingering bugs. You can’t forgot about the patience you have with your product team that, in fact, they are building the right features to make users happy.
There’s a certain degree of empathy you need to cultivate from both sides. I’ve found myself balancing the many needs of the user and providing them a great experience, but also being thoughtful of our internal team, always knowing they are doing what is best for the community and product long-term.
You’re in a constant struggle to move past simply hearing users to a state of deep listening where you learn their every want, fear, desire and aspiration. It’s easy to focus on efficiency, considering every startup has limited resources, but taking the time to foster an authentic conversation with a user is where the true engagement really takes place. Not through some auto-response that could solve their issue 12% of the time (which I’ve been guilty of recently to work through some Facebook issues)!
It’s also safe to say, you will never be bored. You know those jobs where your peruse every ESPN, TechCrunch and NYTimes most-emailed articles before lunch? Those days are over, along with posting up on Twitter all afternoon.
There will always be open support tickets and unanswered tweets. Or, how about the ambassador program you’ve wanted to start? What about the content partnership with the up-and-coming fitness blog? Then, the Elite users with unwieldy requests, who you’ve promised to respond to within 24 hours.
Prioritization is paramount. Without it, you’re screwed. You’ll lose both your analytical, left-brain abilities, as well as your creative disposition, because you’ll feel like Gumby at the end of every week.
You will be pulled a thousand different directions! Keep it at 678 directions and you’ll stay sane. Actually, tools that have helped me recently for this are OmniFocus, iDoneThis and Peter Bregman’s 18 Minutes.
Community Management is exciting. It’s the future. You learn so much about yourself and human psychology. The field will grow ever larger as more robust communities and networks are built across the web. And, there will be a growing demand for smart, creative people who can connect, listen and tap into these users’ emotions to build world changing products.
Luckily for me, I found my passion with RunKeeper and it’s been one big learning process ever since April :)