Daily Archives: October 30, 2013

Why Community Managers need analytics (even if they think they don’t)

Community Manager and Analytics

Although we know that measuring ROI is important, not everyone is convinced. Take a look at some quotes from some articles from the past year or so:

“If you simply must crunch some numbers, there are a few data points you can look at …  But the bottom line remains: don’t get too hung up on the numbers.”

Social Media ROI: It Doesn’t Really Matter (Really!), July 2012

“We’ll never be able to quantify every lead, every brand-awareness lightbulb moment, everything social does for us.”

Why Social Media can’t be measured – and why that’s OK, November 2012

” … you have this previously unmeasured darknet that’s delivering 56.5 percent of people to individual stories. This is not a niche phenomenon! It’s more than 2.5x Facebook’s impact on the site. “

Dark Social: We Have The Whole History of the Web Wrong, October 2012

If I were an aspiring community manager, what I would I take away from these articles is:

  • Tracking analytics is silly. You don’t need to do that!
  • What we can measure (data) is insignificant compared to what we can’t measure (“relationships”)
  • If you care about analytics (which you shouldn’t), you must be an unfeeling robot

But, after learning how many different ways there are to approach analytics (just take a look at this list – and this barely scratches the surface), not using analytics seems lazy. So is it?

TRACKING ANALYTICS IS SILLY

Perhaps analytics seem silly in the short term. It’s hard to see patterns and rhythms in the community in the first weeks or even months.

Over time, however, analytics can tell you some important things. While you shouldn’t get “hung up” on the numbers on the day-to-day, they should play a big part in how you create strategy.

If you are tracking analytics but not getting much from them, perhaps it’s time to take a look and see if the analytics are the right one for your strategy.

WHAT WE CAN MEASURE IS INSIGNIFICANT

Not tracking anything because you can’t track everything is like eating an extremely unhealthy diet because you’re predisposed to heart disease. You’re probably going to die from the disease, so why try?

Maybe that’s morbid, but the point remains: because you can’t control one factor doesn’t mean it’s pointless to control what you can. If that were true, there wouldn’t be community managers.

Although community growth may happen through so-called “dark” channels, it’s foolish not to get as much as you can from blogs, social, website, and email channels. Optimizing and experimentation with controlled channels is what makes the job so challenging and fun.

IF YOU CARE ABOUT ANALYTICS, YOU MUST BE AN UNFEELING ROBOT

Paying attention to analytics and data does not make you a robot – it makes you a good community manager.

Analytics, as well as relationship building, is an important. Yes, it’s necessary to be human, but it’s also important to have those human interactions guided strategically by data.

ONE LAST THING

Looking at analytics will always give you something more than what you put in. It will tell you if you’re doing something right, if you’re doing something wrong, or – if you don’t get any useful data – it will tell you how to get better at measuring ROI.

It’s always good to be reflective. Always consider what analytics you couldn’t capture, such as:

  • What have I changed?
  • What alternatives didn’t I implement?
  • Do I know the success of those alternatives?
  • Am I measuring the right analytics?
  • Are there other tools I can use?
  • Do I need more data?
  • Do I need to change my approach for better results?
  • Do I need diversify my approach for better data?

Are you an analytics naysayer? If so, why? If not, what convinced you to start tracking analytics? Do you find them more beneficial or cumbersome?

Interview with Carrie M. Jones, Community Manager at Chegg

For our midterm assignment, I had the pleasure of interviewing Carrie M. Jones, the community manager at Chegg.

In case you haven’t heard of it already, Chegg is the next big thing in

Retrieved from: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2009/12/prweb3397354.htm

terms of all-encompassing resources for college students. The company, which started out as a textbook rental alternative to hefty campus bookstore prices, is today a provider of digital rentals, homework help (24-hours a day) and even scholarships. That’s right, as a student, you can now go to one place to rent your textbook (for about half the price of buying it), get help about materials in the textbook, and create a profile to match you up with hundreds of scholarships you uniquely qualify for.

So where does Jones fit into this equation? She manages the community of individuals who are part of the source of Chegg’s resourcefulness. Known as “Chegg-experts,” these individuals consist of bright students and TAs, professors and teachers, and simply subject enthusiasts looking to share the wisdom. Oh, and there’s other community managers in there too. This is because, as part of her job, Jones seeks out individuals who are already talking about Chegg, or other subjects with frequency and fluency. She then invites them to come on over to the Chegg-experts’ community, and do what they do best – communicate their knowledge and perspectives. By fostering a community environment that promotes collective experience, Jones facilitates Chegg-experts in a way that gives the company an undeniable competitive edge in today’s rapidly evolving web services industry. While community managing can have a million different connotations in the field, Jones’ job specifically focuses on certain goals.

Goals of a Chegg Community Manager

  • Growth and retention of the community
  • Constructive product feedback
  • Creating positive experiences for members
  • Facilitating relevant connections amongst members
  • Seeking out brand ambassadors for induction into the community

Throughout the interview I got the chance to hear Jones speak candidly about what works in the industry and her job specifically. She mentioned some things that corresponded directly to the course material (ie: the differences between community managers vs. social media managers) and some things I had no knowledge of previously. Some of the most important takeaways of the interview can be boiled down simply as best practices and words of advice.

Best Practices & Words of Advice from a CMGR

  • Community management can vary drastically depending on the company/org within which it exists
  • Community managers (usually) have an inward focus, managing inter-departmental relations regarding the community
  • OVER-COMMUNCATION is the best way to avoid inter-departmental conflict and miscommunication
  • Clear and concise guidelines are the best resource for mitigating negative feedback
  • Companies love data and will hire individuals who demonstrate the ability to independently make decisions based on data analytics

With all the wisdom that was shared, I felt indebted to Jones for her time and willingness to chat with me. Thus, hypothetically speaking, if I were to be of strategic help to Jones and Chegg, I would focus on furthering her idea of developing forums about specific products. The way the Chegg-experts community currently exists is it relies heavily on its Google+ page for member interactions. Using member input, forums based on the most popular products could be created as offshoots of the current community, both expanding the community while narrowing the focus of discussion on key topics and products.

Although Chegg currently has a great spread of student-based services, there’s always room for more. How would you help the company do an even better job of connecting students to people, books, and merit awards than it already does?

Also, for those interested, the video of my interview with Jones is available for your viewing pleasure!

 

Why are Social Media Metrics Important to Community Management?

Image courtesy of Gaurav Mishra.

“Keeping up with new social media and analytics buzzwords, learning what they all mean, and understanding their importance can easily become overwhelming.”
– Adam Schoenfeld

Hands down, the best blog post to read about the importance of social media metrics is Adam Schoenfeld’s, “Beyond the Buzz: 41 Social Media Metrics Defined.” Schoenfeld makes a complicated subject easy to understand by defining and dividing the forty-one social media metrics into nine different categories, explaining the importance of each and then dividing those categories into two and four subcategories where he goes into greater detail.

Below is a condensed version with my thoughts in italics:

  • Audience Metrics: the people who choose to join the social media community and each community has it’s own lingo (Example: Facebook has fans or likes while Twitter has followers)
  • Social Listening & Monitoring: identifying opportunities to engage with your audience and monitoring the perceptions of your brand or company through multiple social media platforms (Example: the people behind the “Hannibal” Tumblr page – by far the best interaction I’ve seen between company and fanbase)
  • Engagement Metrics: knowing the different types of engagement can help you understand how effective your interactions with the community will be (Example: you’re more likely to get UGC from Tumblr than from Facebook)
  • Content Performance: tracking and analyzing content to discover what causes some content to succeed and other content to fail (Example: how many likes, reblogs or favorites do you get on different social media platforms)
  • Total Exposure Metrics & Social Graph: the size of the primary audience and the relationship between the community and brand (Example: how many followers do you have and how receptive are they to you?)
  • Customer Service: important aspect to have in order to build a strong community (Example: how fast do you respond to a question? From the perspective of the community, are you doing all you can?)
  • Demographics: knowing different ways or social media platforms to engage with your audience (Example: Tumblr holds a different community base than Facebook. Tumblr will get you UGC and analysis whereas Facebook is more likely to share/spread knowledge of your brand or company)
  • Competitive Analysis: monitor and measure the effectiveness of their campaigns against the competition (Example: what are people saying on Twitter? How is the response on Facebook?)
  • Additional Key Phrases: other important buzzwords that also happen to be some of Schoenfeld’s favorites
Image courtesy of Gaurav Mishra.

Image courtesy of Gaurav Mishra.

While I was reading Schoenfeld’s article I kept thinking of the social media team behind NBC’s Hannibal and that whoever is in charge of their accounts, specifically Tumblr, knows the perfect way to interact* with their audience. Based on Schoenfeld’s post, the community manager behind the Tumblr page is clearly aware of seven of the eight metric categories. As for the eighth, their team must be aware of what the competition is doing but so far the only real competition I see them having is with another NBC show, “The Blacklist.”

Schoenfeld recommends Simply Measured as a way to track and analyze the metrics of your social media platforms, the only downside being that it costs money. However, through a class discussion we were exposed to Klout, a free way to see how a person or community ranks. It’s really user-friendly and it generates a graph based on your influence on social media.

Let me know in the comments below if you use Klout and what your number is or if you find another site that works just as well. Have fun!

*Over the summer, Photoshopping flower crowns onto your favorite character’s heads was all the rage on Tumblr. In less than a month the people behind NBC’s Hannibal page had found ways to get the actors to wear flower crowns behind the scenes and at events. They were clearly following the trends in the site and made themselves topical. As someone who follows them and other companies, their willingness to “play along” with their fans, made their fanbase not only get closer and stronger but grow as well.

Lessons Learned from Emily Egan, Mindshare’s Community Manager

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Emily Egan, the community manager of Mindshare. Located in New York City, Emily works to help different brands bring their social media presence to life. to In a  Google Hangout we had, Emily and I were able to talk about her different experiences she’s had as a community manger. Although we discussed different aspects of her job and how she deals with things such as evaluating metrics and creating a content calendar, the things that stuck with me the most were parts of her own experiences and her growth as a community manager.

Google Hangout with Emily

Google Hangout with Emily

Sometimes It’s Okay To Not Know

Before Emily got involved with social media, Emily barely knew how Twitter worked. Concepts such as retweets and modified tweets were completely foreign to her. By talking to friends and experimenting with different social outlets, Emily was able to learn about different aspects of social media and community management. She learned the difference between being active on social media personally and tweeting for a brand after being asked to take on social media at a restaurant. After meeting the right people and building up skills of her own, Emily was able to land a job at Vaynermedia working with social media. She has grown into a social media guru since then and now works at Mindshare managing social media for different brands.

Not Everything Is Worth Fighting For

When discussing how to handle negativity within a brand, Emily talked about picking and choosing battles. People often turn to social media to complain, and often times conflicts can be resolved with social media. However, not all people who complain need to be responded to. Emily shared that some tweets are better left ignored while some tweets can be responded to to resolve issues. The decision between engaging and ignoring can be reached based on compromise with a client. It’s important to know what to react to and how to react appropriately. This allows brands to pick and choose how they handle issues with clients.

Be Personable, But Speak Loudly 

The most important thing I took away from my discussion with Emily was that it’s important to be personable with a community but also speak to as many people at once as possible. Communities can get big quickly, but it’s important to keep a personable tone with people. You want to make it feel as though you’re specifically talking to them when you may actually be trying to reach hundreds or thousands of people. This personal touch can keep a community tight-knit and engaged.

I was happy to speak with Emily and relate what I’ve learned so far in class to things that she was discussing. Through her discussion of personal experiences and her job responsibilities, I was able to learn a lot about how community managers work day-to-day and confirm theories that our class has spent so much time studying. The things I learned from Emily were invaluable and I appreciate the lessons I was able to learn from her.