Community Management During Massive Change

There's perhaps nothing more equally exciting and stressful than implementing a big change in your company. And, whether that change is good or bad, it's a time for Community Managers to work overtime. But how does a CM manage the messaging behind a major change?

When do you tell people about a major change?

There was a strong consensus that there is such a thing as "too soon" when it comes to informing a community about a major change. Knowing what's best for your company (hopefully), announcing a change too soon has the potential to create debate and lures feature wishlists. Having a strong support plan in place is important since, no matter what, users will find tweaks and bugs. This is perfectly natural and should be anticipated! In an effort to mediate feature request and support queues, a preview for dedicated users or an ambassador program isn't a bad idea to gather feedback.

But what if people react badly?

Whenever a change comes that surprises a community there's the potential for some backlash. Finding a way to keep the community happy can prove difficult. There will always be a ratio of people who just don't want your product to change. As a group we came up with a few ways to deal with this issue:

  • Stand your ground - The change has happened and will ultimately improve their experience. It's okay to say to say no, but...
  • Be empathic - Even though you can't go back on your change, you can make an effort to understand where they're coming from and let them know they've been heard
  • Go the extra mile - Reaching out to a very vocal user personally, one on one, can make a big difference. People like to know they've been heard :)
  • Collect data - Vital for measuring sentiment, this data is important when brining feedback back to the product team

Along with these tips we want to hear from you! What's the biggest challenge you had informing your community of change? Communication? The vocal minority? Let us know!