How to Train (and Find!) Community Managers, From Home to External Networks

Not applicable

Please comment with your experiences!


My perspective:

  • Home network: 234 members
  • 1st External Network for customers who have taken our main specialty training: 3,708 members
  • New, 2nd External Network for customers, clients, and advocates of a smaller specialty training: 55 members

Ready, Set...


After configuring, designing, creating how-to guides, and doing all the other admin things I could think of with my home network, I put it into a "soft launch" stage for a few months leading up to the official launch.


I pitched it as "Get your profile filled out before the official launch date!" which helped generate a sense of excitement.


How To Find Your Community Managers


Now, you may not have a soft launch phase, and are gearing up to just launch & go. Regardless--


DO pay attention during the early days of your launch. This is when you will notice those co-workers who seem to "get" Yammer. They're filling out their profiles, they're active in or creating groups, and they may even already be guiding others.


DON'T require these co-workers to have your level of Yammer expertise at this time. It's great if they start amassing all the knowledge on their own! But what you're really looking for is the willingness to learn, to try something new, to take the time out of their existing jobs to pitch in.


What To Do After You've Found Them


The fact that I had people digging into Yammer without extra prodding on my part told me that there was a good chance they might want to take on a higher-level role.


In fact, that's how I pitched that: "Do you want to do EVEN MORE in Yammer? Special powers await!"


That was one carrot. The other was being able to show their bosses all the cool & helpful stuff they were doing. <--Analytics can help show that as well.


I was careful not to pick just from my own nicely supportive department, but to try to get people from all over the company, even overseas.


Here was my approach:


  1. First, training. Keeping in mind how people learn in different ways, I offered personal one-on-one training, group training, or on their own time with training materials I provided.
  2. I added everyone to my private "Community Ambassadors" Yammer group where they can ask questions and are expected to keep themselves apprised of updates.
  3. Edict: When you see someone on Yammer having difficulty, someone asks a question, someone asks you specifically a question--help them! And come get me if the question is a stumper, or pertains to my role with my heap big powers.
  4. This is a volunteer and hopefully fun position, and people get busy. I don't expect anyone to keep it forever, but I do ask that they find or help me find a worthy replacement before stepping down.


Where Do I Get Training Materials?


I had adapted a PowerPoint deck from the Yammer Power User Training I received in 2014, as well as bringing over video clips and how-to files from the Yammer Customer Network, later rebranded as the IT Pro Network. I still have everything and can send it by request--though most if not all may be outdated as the look and feel of Yammer has evolved.


You can find some materials in this network already, and more will be added.


As always, watch the dates on those materials. Sometimes it's just an icon that's changed, but sometimes it's a whole placement or functionality.

What about External Networks?


I don't require all of my home network Ambassadors to help with the External Networks. I instead asked the most fervent Ambassadors (there are degrees!) if they wanted to assist. They did, and they are incredible at helping me approve and guide customers in these networks.


My approach is the same, with these company-culture additions:


  1. Our external networks are an extension of our training and specifically for our customers/clients to exchange tips and strategies and get to know each other. They are NOT for us to be jumping in the moment someone posts. They are also not a venue for us to sell our products.
  2. We do take customer posts on a case-by-case basis; sometimes a customer is directly asking, "What does your company think about X?"
  3. ...Which is why we have a living document called our External Network Policy. This is much larger than the Usage Policy that sits on Yammer. We've included provisions and caveats as well as general guidelines. One is: Unless a question/comment falls under one of our caveats, let it sit for at least 48 hours to give customers a chance to see it and respond.
  4. Above all, we make sure everyone, not just the Ambassadors, know that when you post something, you're not just posting for the eyeballs that see it now, but for the eyeballs in the future.

Bottom Line


As the verified or network admin, you have a key role in guiding not only regular users but your own special team. This means not forgetting about that team! We all get ridiculously busy, but checking in now and then and making sure you're available can do a lot for morale. 

6 Replies

Thanks for sharing Becky! This is great! Do you have any community managers where it's an official part of their job description, or are all your community managers "super users" with extra responsiblity on top of their full-time positions?

I'm the sole official community manager here--everyone else is that great term you used, "super user" with that extra responsibility.


I do tell them periodically that this is all volunteer, but so far no one has abdicated, and it's been since August 2014. :)

Hi Becky,

I'm glad you posted this. I'm in the process of updating all of my content (can't seem to do this fast enough). Anyways, I have been working off a few old decks that my wonderful predecessor passed along and just making adaptations along the way. I'd love to see what you have (I know screenshots are hard to keep up with). I ask because in a few weeks I will be training 30 community managers (record number for us) all at once and I'm finding it hard to decide between keeping a focus on strategy and role of community manager or start off with the technical how-tos first for that hour. From your experience do you have any advice which should go first? (chicken or egg :-).



I'll see if I can send you the file here--it's a big one. And it's ancient by internet terms, but you'll at least get some framework (or a laugh).


I train Community Managers first in the how-tos, because I pick them out by how they have already shown interest/aptitude in doing all the things on their own. So we cover all the rest, all those important basics so they'll feel equipped to help somebody else out, from changing notifications to when they need to come to get me because something is seriously borked.


Then strategy: Use cases, stepping in to keep a thread going, tagging people who should really be part of a discussion, what to look for in future Community Managers, and so forth.


Preload your private group with whatever materials you want them to reference. 


And congratulations! 30 at once is awesome, and having that much interest is a dream come true. 

Thanks again for the information! I'll do my best to report back on how we did and share anything that may be helpful!

I like the new End User Guide > @Deleted might be helpful as well iif you haven't already seen it (and goodness what preso are you using from 2014!! :D). 


@Lillian Diaz Howd the training go? What was the response like? 


I have a few training activities I liked to do DURING the webinars that help people get into Yammer while I was on the line (like a simple poll, questions that everyone can answer, and/or have them practice what you've told them...).