Daily Archives: March 26, 2013

My First Twitter Chat Experience – #CMGRChat

On March 13th 2013, I participated in my first ever #CMGRchat by using TweetChat.com. The experience was unique and very beneficial for someone such as myself that is being exposed to community management for the first time. Participants of the chat ranged from community managers to bloggers and enthusiasts, all having a great deal of knowledge in the creation and management of communities.

question markWhat is it all about?

#CMGRchat provides a means of discussion and collaboration between community managers from around the world. Hosted by Jenn Pedde and Kelly Lux, the chat concentrates on the discussion of topics related to the emerging field of Community Management, and how professionals in the field approach day-to-day problems. The hosts present several questions to the group to stimulate discussion, which seems to work pretty well with achieving a meaningful conversation about Community Management topics.

My Experience

I thought that the chat was very interesting and provided some great insight on topics such as testing within a community, handling changes and managing UI / UX testing. I never knew that Community Managers would be involved at the user interface or user experience level, but according to David Spinks, “often, CMs (community managers) should be involved in those projects.” Prior to chat, I always believed that Quality Assurance specialists or web designers would handle the testing of an interface, but this was not the case based on the feedback provided in CMGRChat.

The general consensus during the chat was to ensure user acceptance of any change in the community through extensive testing. The communities in question where such extensive analysis and testing was performed, varied by size and audience. Change affects everyone in a community and regardless of how large or small the size, it can impact the potential growth, thus making it vital to keep as many active participants as possible.

One of the questions that was presented to the group was how to implement a major change to the community. I personally believe any major enhancement which may alter the way a user does something should be gradually implemented over time. Major feature releases can be done in smaller “chunks”, ultimately making the new/changed features transparent to the end user. In my own experiences, I’ve always used a phased rollout with a detailed action plan on how to handle end user acceptance of any changes being made.

Closing Thoughts

Based on the discussion between the participants of CMGRChat, testing is a crucial part to the pursuit of an online community’s continued growth and response to a changing industry. The Community Manager (CM) role itself is still undergoing change and continues to be crafted throughout the various companies that have established the position. Discussions that #CMGRChat provides weekly, creates a useful discussion that may allow CMs define their role effectively themselves.

Blog Better

Before I knew much about blogging, I equated the term with an activity done by an opinionated person who was extremely knowledgeable about some subject area – politics, business, sports – but who had far too much time on his hands.  I assumed that structurally and stylistically, if you’d seen one blog post, you’d seen them all: they were dense and chock full of ideas, and posed a struggle to get through unless you were really into that subject.

Then I came to the iSchool.  In each of my last three classes (four, if you count #CMGRClass), blogging has been an integral part of the assigned curriculum and work, and one was even devoted to blogging.  Needless to say, I now know that my original assessment of blogging was way off mark.  (At least in most cases, that is!)

This week in #CMGRClass, students studied, read, and wrote (or, more correctly, blogged) about blogging.  Included in this week’s readings was ProBlogger’s Darren Rowse’s How to Write Great Blog Content: a great go-to resource for those new to blogging or who feel they need a refresher on blogging best practices.  The post itself is a brief list-meets-link post, where each item in the series of bulleted lists is the title of another of Rowse’s posts.  Taken together, there are 17 articles providing guidance on developing content, crafting a post, and motivating oneself to blog better.

Blog Better

Rowse’s series is broken into several sections, most having at least three articles each.  Like any good blog post, each post is long enough, but not overly lengthy.  (A recommended guideline is between 250 and 1000 words).  Each has a descriptive title, and most include pictures that complement the content.  Each post has formatting that aids in digesting the content: headings and subheadings in bold, italic, or underlined text, bulleted or enumerated lists, etc.  Interestingly, across all of the posts, several of the wide range of types of blog posts are represented – instructional, list, and link.  (Turns out that idea of blogging I had may have been based on seeing a rant post or two as is described in number 11 here.)

  • Where to Start: How to Craft a Blog Post outlines “10 crucial points” to consider before clicking publish, including the importance of quality control and timing
  • Techniques: offers guidance on effective post titles, suggests optimal post length, and provides ways to make a post more scannable for reading on-screen
  • Workflow: includes considerations on post frequency and guest posts
  • Motivation: offers numerous ways to battle bloggers’ block
  • Principles: includes four excellent posts on developing content
  • RSS: provides a how-to guide for developing and growing a RSS feed

Carry On Blogging

blogging - Flickr user hgjohnSome keys to blogging will be constant.  As Rowse says in The 4 Pillars of Writing Exceptional Blogs, “… create valuable content and good writing, and the readers will come.”  Content is king.  (Yes, I talked about that in last week’s post on community content, too.)  In How to Craft a Blog Post, Rowse also writes, “small mistakes can be barriers to engagement for some readers,” and that definitely applies to me.  Provided the content is there, I also value an aesthetically-pleasing post that contains correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

I believe there’s a fine line in determining when a post is ready for prime time – especially in cases where one’s own high standards are in play.  (There’s an interesting discussion going on in the #CMGRClass Google+ group about this very topic.)  Regardless of where you might fall on the spectrum of “done” vs. “perfect,” make no mistake, what your post contains as well as how it looks are vitally important to your blog’s readers.

What do you think are your blogging strengths?  Weaknesses?  Are you more of a “done” or “perfect” blogger?

(“Keep Calm and Carry On Blogging” image from Flickr user hgjohn.)