Notes from WELD's Laboratory
Mountain Biking Fundamentals and Community Management
If you’ve ever ridden a mountain bike on singletrack you know that there are three things that are key to riding well and having fun. Funny thing is, those same three concepts apply to managing community across social media channels. Seriously. It’s true. Allow me to explain.
1. Keep your eyes ahead where you want to go
When mountain biking, you always want to look as far ahead on the trail as possible. By the time you reach that crux move–that technical rock problem or a particularly tight turn that puts you right into a climb–you’re already looking beyond it. You’ve assessed the challenges from afar so that by the time you reach them, you’re prepared.
Same thing goes for community managers. If all you do is react to that which is right in front of you, eventually you will crash. Thing is, if you crash on the trail, a few people might see. Crash in plain site of thousands of Facebook fans and, well, let’s just say humiliation can go viral in a hurry.
2. Avoid distractions, stay focused
It’s easy to become distracted on the trail because your eye is drawn to so many features in the span of seconds. It’s not uncommon to glance at an obstacle you know you want to avoid only to find that by looking at it you are inexorably drawn to it.
It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that there are distractions aplenty where community management is concerned. Tools and apps and ever-changing functionality and user interfaces all conspire to spray your focus like mud from a knobby tire. Find a mantra, remember your goals and, when necessary, step away, regroup and then get back to it.
3. Make constant adjustments as the terrain changes
Riding on the trails means you’re in and out of your seat, leaning forward to climb and back to descend, timing your pedal strokes to avoid rocks and anticipating gear changes (unless you’re some sort of single-speed masochist, anyhow). You adjust to optimize your ability, to work more efficiently, to get the most from your ride.
No doubt you’ve caught on by this point, but to make it clear, community management is pretty much the exact opposite of road biking on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Things are changing all the time (see distractions above). Ignore evolving mobile browsing and personalized search and you might just find yourself way off the trail wrapped in a thicket of Friendster profiles, Diaspora dandelions and Myspace sparkles.
By now, you’re probably thinking, “Hey, there were supposed to be four concepts, but I only see three.” Nice work. You’ve just discovered the fourth key: Always leave them wanting more
See what I did there?