Monthly Archives: May 2013

Let’s Play! #CMGRChat Gets Gamified

Reality is broken, so let’s play games instead; that was the main point of Jane McGonigal’s keynote speech at 2011’s PAX East convention. In a large auditorium at the top floor of the Boston Convention Center, Ms. McGonigal got the entire audience to partake in a massive thumb war, after discussing the merits of injecting games and play into real life. Her arguments were strong, citing psychological evidence that play improves many quality of life factors, and can result in better work. I came away from that keynote with a shiny new achievement (Double Kill – I won both thumb war games simultaneously!), a heightened sense of enjoyment (the video games on the show floor didn’t hurt, though), a plan to buy her book, and a lasting interest in “gamification.” So when it became the topic of the day for #CMGRChat, I couldn’t wait to see what people had to say.

On April 3rd, dozens of community managers tuned into Twitter to discuss four questions about gamification and community. The questions posed were:

  • Is every community a good candidate for gamification? And how do you know yours is/isn’t?
  • What do you expect to gain from gamification within your community and how do you measure that?
  • What are some best practices for someone just starting to add game elements to a community? Things to stay away from?
  • What are some examples of gamification within communities that has worked well? Not so well?


The summary? Well, not all communities are created equal, and that goes for how suitable gamification is for them. Some communities are too casual for games to really motivate them, but others are hyper competitive and would love to be rewarded for using the platforms. Two examples I knew before I really knew how widespread gamification was are SuperBetter and Fitocracy. SuperBetter is Jane’s self-improvement network that ties personal achievements to in-game achievements. It’s a great concept, that’s really more about making a game out of real life than it is about joining a gaming community, but the community aspect is very much present and very helpful as a support system. Fitocracy, in contrast, is a bit more competitive. It is also based on fitness and self-improvement, but it rewards high scores and progress, pitting you against yourself as well as your peers. The community on both exists to support, but Fitocracy tends to emphasize safely one-upping your buddies.


Gamification doesn’t work without a strategy, however, so some of the answers in the chat were especially helpful. Knowing what benefits there are to which features you want to implement is of high importance, right behind knowing whether or not your community will actually buy into them. Michael Hahn suggested using gamification to find advocates and influencers, as well as gather feedback. Evan Hamilton suggested using what already inspires community members as the focal point of gamification, which will likely lead to higher engagement. There are many ways to go about it, but going in blind is never a good choice. I think the rule of thumb is to actually spend the time needed to make a game that’s right for your community. If you can’t commit to that initial investment, it’s going to be very hard to commit to the long-term maintenance and upgrades of the game, and if the fit isn’t right, the game will very likely fail quite early. It’s really a lot more than stickers and achievements.

What is your favorite example of gamification? What worked best about it?

Using Content to Build a Community

The Community ManagerThis week I participated in #cmgrchat, the Twitter chat for community managers co-founded in 2010 and hosted each week by #cmgrclass professors Jenn Pedde and Kelly Lux.  I discovered on Wednesday morning that the topic was “Using Content to Build a Community” – perfect, I thought, to cap off this semester.

This week’s Twitter chat was not my first #cmgrchat experience.  I previously participated in a #cmgrchat about a year ago while I was a #RotoloClass student, and I occasionally drop in and out of the Wednesday afternoon chats as my work schedule allows.   This week, I used TweetDeck to track the #cmgrchat hashtag and keep up with the conversation, which can sometimes be challenging given the volume of tweets.  TweetChat is another popular tool for participating in Twitter chats.

@KellyLux welcome to #cmgrclass@JPedde welcome to #cmgrclass







#cmgrchat Questions

This week’s chat had five questions.

1. What’s your primary content type?  Trust Building, Educational, User-Generated, Conversion, or Filtered? — Why?

2. What are some integral components of a content strategy?

3. In what ways do current community members contribute to your owned content (blogs, newsletters, web pages, etc.)?

4. What companies make tools that have community building in mind?  What do you use?

5. How often do you evaluate an owned/onsite content strategy?  And what does evaluation look like?


Community Manager Insights

About ten minutes were devoted to each question, with Jenn and Kelly alternating as questioners.  Most CMs provided answers to each question, but others dropped in and out of the chat according to their availability.  I observed commonalities within each set of responses, and noticed interesting outliers as well.

  • #cmgrchat 042413 - Q1Content type: In response to question 1, most community managers participating in the chat seemed to report that they primarily used trust-building and/or educational content within their communities.  However, many expressed a goal of introducing more community-generated content in the future.


  • #cmgrchat 042413 - Q1Content strategy components: Common responses to question 2 included alignment with organizational objectives and understanding of community members’ interests and needs.  Additionally, many community managers commented on the importance of a content calendar while also acknowledging the need to retain flexibility to respond to real-time news and issues.


#cmgrchat 042413 - Q3

  • Community member contributions: In reply to question 3, a common theme among chat participants was the use of community members to share CM-developed content, provide feedback on content, and act in a guest blogger capacity.  I was excited to see one of my answers to question 3 prompt interaction with another member in the chat!


  • #cmgrchat 042413 - Q4Community building tools:  Chat participants named a range of tools they use to help build community; some I’ve used in my own community-building practice (HootSuite, StorifyTumblr), others I had heard of but not personally used (Google Hangouts and Alerts), and even more were new to me (CrowdBooster, SimplyMeasured, Sprout Social).  My motto is usually “show me the free” – and apparently I’m not the only one – but I’m definitely open to investigating some of the paid services.


  • #cmgrchat 042413 - Q5Content strategy evaluation: In answer to the final question, CMs responded that they analyze content for efficacy based on metrics and community feedback.  Reporting was a common tool, occurring on a range of time frames from quarterly, biweekly, weekly, and even more frequently.  I was impressed by the CMs’ diligence and couldn’t help but feel like I fall into the “not often enough” category.


A Sense of Community

What strikes me about #cmgrchat is the sense of community among the contributors.  Even after only a handful of appearances on my part, I recognized certain names as regular attendees.  Participants are quick to respond to, retweet, or mention comments that they find insightful – including tweets from newcomers.  (#cmgrchat is definitely not a good old girls’ or boys’ network!)  If you haven’t yet taken in a #cmgrchat, I highly recommend it: it’s acknowledged as the go-to resource for community managers, and has even cracked the Twitter trending topics list.  After my experience this week, I intend to participate more regularly to learn from this open and resourceful community.

Have you ever participated in a Twitter chat, #cmgrchat or otherwise?  What do you find most useful?

Check out my Storify of this week’s #cmgrchat here.  Visit the basis for this week’s chat, The Community Manager’s “Using Content to Build a Community” by Rebecca Lindegren, here, and tune in to #cmgrchat each Wednesday at 2pm ET.

(Screen shots of 4.24.13 #cmgrchat tweets taken by author.  Featured image’s word cloud created by author using Wordle.)

Building Community with Content

Wednesday’s #CMGRchat was about using content to build a community. I found this chat particularly helpful and the questions that Jenn and Kelly asked to the participants insightful. Here are some highlights:

Question 1: What’s your primary content type? Trust Building, Educational, User-Generated, Conversational, or Filtered? – Why?

cmgrchat a1For my community, most of my content is about events or news about our community/community members, so most of my content is educational/informative. But the answers to question 1 were diverse.

Many participants say that they prefer user-generated content and that they try to post things that are conversational. However, user-generated content comes with time, your community needs to grow and mature before you can have this type of content. Some community managers also agreed that it is good to have a combination of different content types to keep things fresh and interesting.

Question 2: What are some integral components of a content strategy?

The following is a list of the most talked about integral components of a content strategy:

  • Creating a content calendar
  • Knowing your community
  • Following the values of your brand
  • Keeping in line with the goals of your community
  • Listening to your community and the feedback they give
  • Using the proper platforms to help you post, track, and analyze
  • Consistency in curation and moderation
  • Clear business goals
  • Planning ahead

Question 3: In what ways do current community members contribute to your owned content? (Blogs, Newsletters, web pages, etc.)?

Currently, my community members don’t actually write newsletters, emails, blogs, help with our web pages, or anything like that. However, they contribute by letting us know what they are up to, by sending us links to shows, projects or informing us of other things they are participating in. Since I help manage a community for Syracuse University graduates, it is really helpful when our alumni notify us and keep us informed– they are our eyes and ears.

cmgrchat A3

Many partipants in #CMGRchat had more experience with community members contributing to their content. Their advice included:

  • Being open to guest bloggers/posters
  • Making sure your community members know they are valued
  • Encouraging community members to comment and give feedback
  • Encouraging community members to ask questions
  • Highlighting community members/showcasing talented community members
  • Making sure that it is a mutually beneficial relationship between the community and its members

Question 4: What companies make tools that have community building in mind? What do you use?

Tools that #CMGRchat participants listed as helpful included:

  • Email*
  • Twitter*
  • Google+*
  • Hootsuite*
  • Sprout Social
  • Crowd Booster
  • Storify*
  • StumbleUpon
  • Skype
  • OneTab
  • Marketo
  • Sales Force
  • Buddy Media
  • Radian6
  • Blogging sites such as Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress*

(* denotes tools that I also use/find helpful)

cmgrchat 1Question 5: How often do you evaluate an owned/onsite content strategy? And what does evaluation look like?

This was a pretty loaded question, and for most in the chat, they said it would vary depending on the type of community you are managing. It was also a common answer that you can never do enough evaluating since your community is probably constantly changing and growing.

Participants suggested:

  • Weekly and/or monthly reports such as key performance indicator reports
  • Evaluate and adjust based on feedback and user engagement
  • Listen to your community
  • Follow trends

*     *     *

It was amazing how much I learned in just 60 minutes. This chat could have gone on for hours since there is so much to talk about when it comes to managing an online community and developing content. I’m looking forward to participating in even more #CMGRchats in the future.

Have You Got the Right Stuff for a Community Manager Future?

You should have seen me and heard me! 

I jumped for joy, laughed out loud, clapped my hands and smiled from ear to ear as I read the content for this week’s Community Manager Class. (Well, I only partly did all that–but I certainly felt that way.)

Flickr/CC/Alex Mestas

Flickr/CC/Alex Mestas

Given the 15-week span of this class, the 15-month effort to earn my iSchool Certificate of Advanced Studies in Information Innovation/Social Media, and more than 15 years of work in PR and communications behind me, the end week of #CmgrClass signifies achievements beyond simply finishing another class, and I found those reflected in the course readings this week about the future of community manager jobs.

Here’s why: IST 620 completes my certificate program (once some paperwork is done). Finishing my CAS/Social Media credential means that I’ve achieved a sizeable goal. A year ago January, I set out to­ update my skills and convert my thinking from the status-quo world of traditional media and PR practice to the new reality of digital and online communication spaces. So this week, I got some good lessons and some affirmations that couldn’t have been more helpful and appropriate at this time.

Here’s where I #humblebrag (Please indulge me for just a bit).

This week’s readings provided a mirror for me. I suspected before (and have learned through this class) that I possess “the right stuff” for community manager work. My work experience and educational background, personality traits, work ethic, and cultural orientation are the type of ingredients that typically makes for a fine community manager. Through this course, I also now have the needed mindset, training, and skills—things learned from highly respected community managers who are leaders in the industry. And I’m feeling that I learned well, and now can successfully go forth in #CMGR work. I’ve been very lucky to have enjoyed a leading-edge social media and information space environment at the iSchool over five semesters, another element that’s been  instrumental in moving me from  old school to new realm. (Not that I was that #oldskool.)



To provide some perspective on these readings and that vantage point for others, I’ll quote what Erin Bury says in Social Fresh about the time she interviewed for the role of #CMGR at Sprouter. She was told then that a community manager is a mix of writing, PR, communications, and social media. After being in the role for a time, she now reflects: It’s a Web 2.0 communications role,” one that is “the face of a company, managing communications in both directions. This digital-savvy employee is responsible for all communications, PR, social media, events, and content creation, among other things.”

Erin says the job includes content creation, social media marketing, events and event planning, public relations, customer relations, communications and marketing strategy, analytics, and business development. She says a person suited to the role needs: an outgoing personality, writing skills, social media experience, interest in the industry (passion), a work-around-the-clock willingness, good employee, PR experience, cultural fit, and intellectual curiosity. (Sorry to add more #Brag here, but: Check, Check, Check, Check, Check, Check, Check, Check, and Check.)

In a Mashable piece about CM jobs, Mario Sundar of LinkedIn says community managers also should love the product or company they represent—but still must be able to “have an understanding of users’ pain points.” A community manager should be empathetic, too, since “that will help them be better at responding to complaints (and, at times, rants).” (Check!)

Community managers also must “understand that their role is to help people and enable their community to connect with each other,” writes Andres Glusman, of (Another Check.) Another must for community managers, says Seamus Condron at ReadWriteWeb, is authenticity. “It’s not just about having a voice, but having an authentic one.” (A Double Check for me!)



It’s clear that the “hard tools” of the trade (data and analytics) will be as crucial as the “soft” tools for a community manager, yet it is good to understand that, as a  future job prospects go, the Community Manager role is gaining in business-world significance. As Vadim Lavrusik noted in Mashable:  “… engaging users online and off has become ever more important for both companies big and small. That’s because social media has revolutionized the idea of word-of-mouth marketing, providing not only an opportunity for companies to expand their brands but also creating the risk of a customer service nightmare.”Flickr/CC/cindy47452

So at the end of #CMGRClass, I’m feeling very good about my decision to retool, stay fresh, and keep learning. The insights, education, and  associations have been great. And I look forward to opportunities to become part of what Buzzing Communities author Richard Millington said community manager work is all about: a professional discipline whose value is backed by data.


Community Manager versus Social Media Manager Recap

One of the main discussions over the course of the semester for #CMGRClass was about defining the role of a Community Manager. Other topics surrounding this issue we have also discussed include:

-How the role of a Community Manager differs from that of a Social Media Manager

-What the confusion of roles means when searching for jobs in these fields

I am going to use this post to break down what I have learned and sum up a semester’s worth of discussions in one post! My definitions might seem vague, but that is because these roles will have different responsibilities from day to day and roles can differ depending on the company/industry. But overall, this is what I have learned:nut shell

What a Community Manager Does/Needs to Have (in a Nutshell)

  • Public relations
  • Customer relations/support
  • Business development
  • Social media marketing through blogging, Twitter, Facebook
  • Plans and hosts events
  • Have their own personal brand (blog, tweet on their own)
  • Have good communication (including writing) and people skills
  • Have authenticity
  • The ability to multitask effectively

What a Social Media Manager Does/Needs to Have (in a Nutshell)

  • Creates day to day content for the organization’s social networks
  • Grow social media accounts (increase follower numbers, likes, etc.)
  • Focuses on social media analytics
  • Monitors various social networking accounts
  • Reports on social media analysis and effectiveness of strategy
  • The ability to multitask effectively
  • The ability to see the big picture (i.e. how social media fits into the overall business plan)
Social Media Managers and Community Managers should work together!

Social Media Managers and Community Managers should work together!

I’m not sure where I read/heard this, so unfortunately I cannot attribute, but I believe this sums up the above bullet points into one cohesive idea:

A social media manager interacts on behalf of the company from the actual company account (e.g. @cmgrchat), where as a community manager interacts on behalf of the company from their own personal account (e.g. @jPedde or @KellyLux).

Why Knowing the Difference Between a Community Manager and a Social Media Manager is Helpful

Knowing the differences between a community manager and a social media manager will not only help you, but it will help your current and/or future employer.  Here are some examples of how:

  • When searching for jobs, you will know the key words to look for in each position
  • When hiring a CM or an SM you will know what skill sets you are looking for in your future employer
  • If you have a good understanding of your role, you can do a better job
  • When the CM and SM know their separate roles, they can find the best ways to work together effectively
  • By making a distinction between roles, you can find out where you need improvement (building your community or analyzing data?)

 *     *     *

There is still so much to learn when it comes to social media management and community management. It is constantly evolving which makes it such an exciting industry to work in.

What other takeaways have you learned this semester?


Skills required by Project and Community Managers in the year 2027


Image courtesy of Krom Krathog

This week I attended a virtual conference session discussing the skills that will be needed by Project Managers in the year 2027. The speaker reviewed predictions made in the early 1900s for the world 100 years in the future. While some of the predictions still haven’t come to pass (e.g. personal flying transport devices); others were very close in their general vision, but not so much in the actual technological implementation (e.g. pushing buttons in your room to have material goods delivered versus clicking a virtual button and ordering goods from the internet). The speaker went on to say that futurists shouldn’t focus on technology when making predictions because it’s very difficult to predict the actual path of technology development. Likewise, when looking at the future role of the Community Manager it’s better to concentrate on other factors that are more predictable.

Increased Complexity (and Channels)

The Project Management study took into consideration four different geopolitical/economic scenarios. It was found that in spite of differences between these scenarios that the outcomes remained very similar because all scenarios resulted in increased complexity. Likewise, if we look at the future role of the community manager, we cannot envision an environment which does not become more complex than the current one. While we don’t know what form new technologies may take, based on previous history it seems most likely that there will be new technologies and more platforms. In the past the advent of new communication channels has rarely spelled the doom of old communication channels. Instead new communication channels have just been added to the mix; consequently, while we may think that some new telepathy channel will spell the end of all older communication channels, this is unlikely to occur. The community manager of the future can expect to look forward to managing even more channels and dealing with more complexity than even today.

Communication Skills

Because of the increased environmental complexity predicted by all scenarios in the Project Management survey, communication was forecast to be the top skill required by the project manager of 2027. Likewise, the community manager of the future will continue to need to increase their communication skills. With the increase in global communications the ability to be able to understand the cultural context of messages will be increasingly important. Also, it seems that there will continue to be divergence between informal communication (e.g. texting abbreviations & emoticons, tweeting) and formal communication (e.g. email, blogs) used in a business context. To be able to reach different audiences, the community manager will need to understand the culture and the “proper” language needed to communicate with many different communities.

Leadership Skills

One surprising outcome of the Project Manager survey was that Leadership skills did not appear in the “top 10” list of skills. Instead leadership was rated more in the mid-range of all skills needed. A skill denoted “relaxation” did however, make the top 10. The skill of relaxation was defined as the ability to help others to relax. In the complex and stressful world of the future, the ability to be able to diffuse tense situations and put others at ease so that they can maximize their productivity is seen to be an important skill. So perhaps, what the survey is really saying is that the definition of leadership is shifting to less of a commanding, domineering presence and more of a collaborative presence, that Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a key skill that all leaders of 2027 will need. Community managers also need the skill of “relaxation” to be able to deal with stressful situations within their communities and bring out the best in their community members. Community managers already require high EI skills and the need for these types of skills will only increase in the years ahead.

What do you think the key skills for community managers will be in the year 2027? What changes do you expect to see the role of the community manager between now and 2027?

Finally, a job description for Community Management!

Time has certainly flown by! This is the last weekly blog post for CMGR Class and we’ll be concentrating on the job description of a Community Manager (CM). Based on the various materials that we have read throughout the semester, there seems to be a lot of confusion in the industry as to the specific responsibilities of a Community Manager. For the last readings, we concentrated on the definition of a Community Manager and what they should be doing in a company.

The Community ManagerStandard Definition of a Community Manager

Some companies in the industry have a very difficult time with defining a Community Manager’s responsibilities. According to Erin Bury’s article, a Community Manager is the face of the company and handles managing both incoming and outgoing communications. Depending on the company, this may or may not be beyond the expected roles that a singular person will take on. The Community Manager will work with existing Marketing, HR, and “Digital-Savvy” employees to ensure that the correct voice is being portrayed across all platforms.

Erin goes on to list some common responsibilities that a Community Manager may face, I believe the most important of which being content creation, customer relations and communication/marketing strategy for the company. Content is king and without it you have nothing to show for your efforts. Check out Lindsay Stein’s article that explains the trend of content being used as a valuable asset in the industry. Interacting with customers through major social media platforms is important for public relations and the sustainable growth of the community.

Social Media Manager vs. Community Manager

Based on the various articles that we have come across for the past 13 weeks, there is a difference between a Social Media Manager and a Community Manager. Many companies seem to use both titles interchangeably, which can be confusing to people attempting to enter the industry. There is no solid defined way to approach either position, but generally the main difference between Social Media manager is the concentration on only handling a company’s presence on major social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Community Managers should be handling the connection with people and the creation and sustainable growth of a community. There needs to be a clear definition of what your target audience is and how you will be measured for success. SMART goals are key when defining the role of either a Community Manager or Social Media Manager in your company. The role also needs to be scoped correctly; don’t overwhelm the position with random responsibilities that would fall more into a Marketing-specific role, such as creating print advertisements or creating internal correspondence for the Human Resources department.

Final Thoughts

This class has taught me what a Community Manager does and how they can add value to an agency. I believe that the role will be more clearly defined as companies implement it. Only time will tell if there will always be this mixture of social media / community management in a singular role.

How to Manage Your Community in a Crisis

There’s nothing like a top-of-mind topic to engage a community in conversation.



That is the main lesson I took from the #CMGRChat session of April 17, which seemed like an especially lively and fast-moving conversation.  

I don’t mean that to be misleading. It’s my understanding that a lively and fast-moving conversation is the #CMGRChat norm. The weekly Twitter chat, co-hosted by community managers Jenn Pedde(2U) and Kelly Lux (SU iSchool) is popular and much-populated. Started two years ago, and now well-established, the weekly Wednesday afternoon conversation for those in, and interested in, the community manager profession typically draws 100 to 150 participants, according to Jenn Pedde. (I’ve been able to join a handful of times.)

But the session this week was been preceded by two incredible, highly dramatic public events that were followed online as they were happening live, then conversed about digitally by millions (including community managers watching tweetchat trends).

In an amazing, digital-space phenomenon, Twitter was first out with the news of bombings at the Boston Marathon, and for the next 24 hours, devices and screens everywhere  carried out a full-court display of the events, as they happened. That included the shoot-out death of one suspect and the the live-action police chase and apprehension of the second.

All of it happened in front of our eyes, on computers, ipads and phones, and concurrently on live TV.



There also was a second incident of tragedy that week – the explosion of a fertilizer plant in West, Texas.) #CmgrChat aspires to be on trend and timely. Within that backdrop, the weekly #CMGRChat topic of “Managing Your Community During a Crisis” was highly engaging.

Six questions were addressed, two more than the typical four. They were useful and instructive in relation to the events of the week

– What constitutes a ‘tragedy’ that will require a shift in your regular practice?

– What are the first steps you take online after determining a tragedy that requires a shift in priorities?

– Do you have a system of checks / balances when it comes to continuing with content?

– OK, you made a mistake. How do you correct that mistake and apologize to your community?

– What are some ways that a community can do to help after a tragedy?

– What are some good and bad examples of post-tragedy use of social media after this week’s events?

Here is a look at the tweetchat as illustrated by its activity metrics: 

115 users     772 total tweets     363  tweets     281 replies    94  retweets    

Breakdown of activity by question response tweet number#:    

A1:  25 tweets, 21 users       A2: 45 tweets, 20 users      A3: 28 tweets 20 users     

A4:  39 tweets, 26 users   A5:  34 tweets, 22 users    A6: 12 tweets, 7 users  

Most active users (and tweets): TheJournalizer 34

Potential impact:  2.317.536 impressions     Potential reach:    442.059 users

My Assessment: this was an example of best practices for a community conversation. You can obtain much more information about the content of the chat, and the tempo and orientation of the conversation among community managers contemplating this issue, by pulling up a metrics report that shows all of the tweet responses, question by question and tweet by tweet.

  • Questions were well thought out (and given the rawness of the ongoing situation, not offensively worded
  • Questions were very pertinent to the situations each community manager might face in a real-life situation
  • Questions were thought-provoking and engaging (without being exaggerated or insensitive)
  • Answers weren’t automatic; they came quickly but required thought and reflection.
  • Questions prompted a highly-engaged conversations and due to the number of questions, a fast-paced conversation.

A record of the one-hour chat is available. The detailed report of metrics and content is available on Scribd at:

If you’re a community manager, or someone interested in the topic of community management, you can tune in. #CMGRChat is hosted on Twitter on Wednesdays from 2 to 3 p.m. EST.

To learn more about the co-hosts, you can find and follow them online.  

On Twitter, Jenn is @JPedde (her company is @2UInc), Jenn blogs at: She also manages a blog for community managers and those interested in the topic (you can read about, and maybe even write content there) at: The Community blogs for her company at 2UInc. Jenn is on LinkedIn at:

Kelly is on Twitter: @KellyLux . Her School account is (@iSchoolSU). Kelly’s blog is Social Lux.  You can find Kelly there at:


Community Manager – A Job Description

community womanagerThis new(ish) and exciting career has many people asking the question – “What exactly is a Community Manager and what do they do?”  Most of my friends have no clue what my position entails, so I will direct them to this post for the answers. Most people know it has something to with social media but that is the extent of it. This is my attempt to explain what it is that community managers do.

Community management is an art not a science! First of all and most importantly, Community Managers connect people with other people around a common interest or brand. This is done both internally in a business and externally with consumers (B2C) or other businesses (B2B). It is the role of the Community Manager to connect people and help them to develop relationships based on common interests and then facilitate initial conversations with the goal of allowing relationships to be built. This is done both online and offline, in person. This relationship building is the core of the Community Managers responsibility, after all if there is no community there is no need for a community manager.

After the community, there are many other responsibilities that are delegated to the Community Manager such as:

face of brand

  • BE the FACE of the brand – because the primary function of the community manager is to connect and build relationships they are the face that people associate with the brand. When the community has a real, live person that they communicate with, they see that person as the brand. The community manager is the living, breathing, talking version of a brand.
  • Content creation – based on knowledge of the community’s interests the community manager will write blog posts, make videos, write newsletters or other wise engage on social media platforms based on the brand’s direction and the interest of the community members.
  • Analytics – use of  measuring devices is the the best way to monitor the effects of your campaigns. By setting goals and monitoring the data it will be easy to see where adjustments need to be made in your marketing plan. What should be measured will vary from brand to brand.
  • Social media marketing – use online tools to do effective outreach, i.e. Twitter, Facebook (what is the value of a like?), YouTube, Instagram or other relevant products. The community manager is much like the conductor of an orchestra bringing all of the individual components together to “make beautiful music”. Community-Manager
  • Event planner – because communities thrive when they have a deeper connection, it is the responsibility to plan ways for them to meet live and in person. By planning events to promote the brand and connect people, the community manager looks for relevant ways to get the party started.

The role of community manager goes well beyond these basics. Great communication skills are a must! The community manager must work with internal departments of brand to be the voice of the community and to coordinate effective marketing strategies. For this reason, they have outgoing, friendly personalities, good writing and speaking skills and posses a passion for the product or brand they represent.  They must also posses excellent time management skills, the ability to multitask and be someone who can remain calm under pressure. After all, we are talking about a group of people expressing opinions. There will be times when tempers may flare or inappropriate comments may be made and you will be the one responsible for calming the waters.

To wrap this all up, a community manager is a brand advocate, engagement expert, data center, builder of relationships internally and externally,builds community with online tools and offline events,  represents community members’ interests, works on marketing with the help of all departments, and uses analytics to measure success or make adjustments. The primary function is to engage users to create community! What are the results? Happy customers!!

So, do you think you have what it takes to be a community manager? Want more contact with other community managers? Check in on Twitter.

Skills and Tips for Future Community Managers

Several weeks ago, I served as the weekly moderator for #CMGRclass’ Google+ community.  The weekly topic was “Social Media Management vs. Community Management,” and among the external resources that I shared was Vadim Lavrusik’s 10 Tips for Aspiring Community Managers.  Oops – or well done.  It turns out that this article was an assigned reading during the last week of the course focusing on “The Future of Community Management.”

While the piece is over two and a half years old, it still contains practical, actionable skills and tips to help a hopeful community manager get started in the field of community management.  Interestingly, these attributes reflect many of the key topics covered during #cmgrclass and together represent the progression of the course throughout the semester.  Here, I present a summary of Lavrusik’s tips.

  1. Evangelize your product.  The most effective community managers have in-depth knowledge of and are passionate about the business or organization they represent.  Often, they brought these attributes to the table before landing their CM position.
  2. Show empathy.  It’s not enough to know a company inside and out; it’s also important to understand the perspective of its users.  This includes knowing their passions, both positive and negative, about the brand.
  3. Communicate through engagement.  As Jenn Pedde writes in The Best (and Worst) Community Management Job Descriptions, the goal of community “is to connect people with people.  Period.”  Effective communication is vital to achieve this.
  4. Be present online, including being active on social media sites and having a blog about your industry.  It demonstrates that you’re social, you can effectively communicate and engage with an audience, and you have knowledge in your business sector.
  5. Be authentic.  To paraphrase a key concept that has arisen during every class I’ve taken in the iSchool’s CAS in Social Media program, people talk to people, not businesses; they engage with faces, not with company or organization logos.
  6. Showcase (or acquire) multiple skills.  It sounds obvious, but more skills are better for a prospective community manager, especially when targeting smaller companies.  If you don’t have them, get them, and always be on the lookout for new and emerging tools and platforms.
  7. Listen - ky_olsonListen.  Perhaps one of the most important traits of an effective community manager is the ability to listen.  As Lavrusik states, “It’s important to listen to the conversations taking place around your company, industry, or product.”  Not only will this listening practice provide insight about what customers are saying about a brand, but it can also help guide the type of content to make the community more impactful.
  8. Build relationships online and offline.  Another important learning from #CMGRclass and other iSchool courses, in-person encounters will help to strengthen and deepen relationships initiated online.
  9. Demonstrate vision and flexibility.  Not only do successful community managers excel at handling individual projects and tasks, they are also big-picture thinkers.  They are able to set and execute strategy, and are also quick to learn new tools and technologies.
  10. Empower others.  Perhaps the most important of Lavrusik’s tips is the need to develop ambassadors from within.  Without momentum from team members and buy-in from management, a community manager’s  efforts can be at best wasted or at worst fruitless.

The Community Manager as Connector

The role of the community manager is here to stay.  As Erin Bury describes in Community Manager Job Description, A Definitive Guide, he is she incorporates “online tools and in-person networking to create relationships and ultimately build the company’s brand, both online and off.”  Ultimately, an effective community manager delivers value to his or her community as well as the business the community represents.  He or she has identified the appropriate audience and the platforms it uses, listens to what it cares about, planned appropriate content, measured efficacy with regard to organizational objectives, and revised as necessary.  With careful resourcing, planning, and execution, for-profit and non-profit businesses alike can realize the benefits of a community manager to their ultimate goals.

Which of Lavrusik’s tips most resonates with you?  Why?

(“Community” image from Vadim Lavrusik’s 10 Tips for Aspiring Community Managers.  “Listen” and “Quality and Value” images from Flickr users ky_olson and wetwebwork.  Featured image by Flickr user Helico.)