Monthly Archives: December 2013

MRY, JetBlue, & LiveFyre: How they do social

During the fall semester of #CMGRClass we got to hear three varying perspectives from the field of community management. The companies represented were, MRY, JetBlue, and LiveFyre.

What began as the youth centered social media marketing agency known as Mr. Youth has today evolved into the larger global digital marketing and technology agency known as MRY. David Yaris, General Manager at Mr. Youth, described his role as one with “a unique take on community management.” Yaris currently manages influencer communities, such as the small yet highly engaged communities and brand ambassadors. Using best practices culled from traditional community management practices, Yaris works to “ignite advocacy and word of mouth across college campuses.”

The social component of MRY is setup around its central Distribution team. The Distribution team follows a five-pronged approach with its subgroups: the paid, owned, earned, experiential, and analytical. The Community Manager role at MRY includes daily community monitoring as well as strategy and creative. The MRY CM works with the creative, strategy and analytics teams to construct the foundation. Here they focus on everything from what it is they’re executing, to writing posts, to working with the analytics to track back on efficiency and optimization of efforts.


Morgan Johnston from JetBlue, transitioned into the social media role from a corporate video position. When he joined the company, there was nothing in terms of a coordinated social media effort at JetBlue, aside from the MySpace account. The company’s very first interaction with social media proper came at the time of a crisis. From there the company started building up and experimenting with social media platforms such as YoutTube and twitter. The first and foremost principle of social media—talking to customers—helped aid the easy transition for JetBlue into the world of coordinated social media efforts.

JetBlue’s social media approach today is split in between three teams: Corporate Communications, Marketing and Commercial, and Customer Support. Corporate Communications, where Morgan sits, handles the big picture and the overall message of content.  The Marketing and Commercial side deals with brand stories, customer conversion, and delve into some content creation. The Customer Support teams, working 24/7, do the lion’s share of day-to-day social engagement. Handling everything from the tweets that come in for JetBlue, to hand-tagging for sentiment analysis, the Customer Support staff helps move customers around the organization. Since their social efforts are closely tied in with their operational team, the Customer Support staff also uses the information they gather to help implement operational changes. With the aid of a fourth component, the Customer Insight team, JetBlue is able to take data gathered, as well as surveys for analytics, to build a voice of the customer. In this way JetBlue, as a customer service company, is able to ask the ultimate question: How likely are you to recommend JetBlue to a friend or family?


Nick Cicero, Lead Strategist at LiveFyre, also fell into social. Initially starting out in music production, Cicero found himself getting into important conversations thru early platforms like MySpace. From there Cicero started working with companies to develop music for their content campaigns and in that time worked with big name artists like Kanye West, to get their communities growing. Though he started out as an independent music marketer, Cicero today works at LiveFyre to create technology to execute campaigns for a variety of brands. Being the strategy side, Cicero works with members who are CMs for other businesses and brands. Together, Cicero and the members he manages, work to identify how they can create engagement opportunities and how to better talk to their customers.

LiveFyre, as a company, is in the business of product commenting on live blogs and chats. Like many large businesses today, LiveFyre has lots of different departments dedicated to social media efforts. The Marketing and Customer Service teams are focused on maintaining communities related to LiveFyre internally. Both departments work in tandem to lead generational opportunities by responding to customers. They also pay special attention on constant monitoring of social platforms, Cicero is a big fan of HootSuite for this.  There is also an emphasis on following the chain of command internally to work with external customers.

The Industry’s Biggest and Brightest: What they look for when hiring for community management

Community management comes in all different shapes and sizes and breaking into the field requires just as many different characteristics. This week’s CMGR class featured a panel of four very different community managers. They represented some of the industry’s most influential companies, such as Google, and some that are small but influential in their own circle, like Cycle for Survival. Each CM at the panel put forth their personal take on what you need to get hired as a community manager.


Jennifer Sable Lopez is Director of Community at MOZ, previously known as SEOmoz. Jenn currently works with a small staff that focuses on community at MOZ. Designed as a software company that makes software to help marketers, MOZ has since expanded its focus. Beyond the software, the organization is now more content focused, working on social and community focused tools. They also feature an educational resources component on the website that breaks down concepts like SEO and other community management based principles.

As a veteran of this industry, Jenn’s criterion for potential hires is valuable insight. The key thing Jenn looks for in a candidate is some who is able to “figure to what to do next.” This includes the following capabilities:

  • The ability to take something and make a decision
  • The ability to figure out what has to happen next
  • The ability to know whether something’s a big deal or not
  • The ability to think on your feet


Lea Marino is CM at Cycle for Survival, indoor team cycling event that raises money for rare cancer research. Marino primarily works on email marketing, social media, and any marketing that goes beyond social. A large portion of her energy is dedicated to peer-to-peer fundraising as well, due to the nature of her organization.

For Lea, the biggest factor she looks for in potential candidates in the CM field is empathy. Not a quality you can necessarily teach, Lea believes that empathy is a personality-driven trait that makes a community manager stand out. In this age of social where people constant communicate digitally, a seasoned CM will have an inherent ability to understand what’s being said behind the words. In this way, one has the ability to connect with people in way “where you can hear what they want you to hear in the moment.”


Sahana Ullagaddi works at Klout as their Community Manager. Klout is currently the premiere tool to help you understand and measure your online influence. Organizational goals include helping their community improve its online influence by being better educated about social media. Sahana’s job is directly related to content that supports the fine tuning of channels the company uses to communicate their content. For Sahana, there is a distinct list of attributes and qualities she looks for when hiring in the community management field.

  • A hunger to learn
  • The ability to receive feedback well
  • Being able to speak up and share your opinions and feedback
  • The ability to be perceptive so people feel comfortable enough to open up to you
  • Being able to prioritize well.


Topher Ziobro, Communtiy Manager at Google Local NYC, works on everything from online interactions to in person events, to working with partners, and even encouraging people to explore and share about the various places of interest in NYC.

When it comes to hiring potential team members, Topher ranks energy management above all else. For a job centered around maintaining an energetic social media presence, Topher feels the individuals managing those accounts should be especially adept at using their energy wisely so as to avoid burnout, and thus a lackluster social media presence. Specifically, Topher places value in the following aspects of energy management:

  • How you display your energy
  • How to plan things so you are not draining yourself
  • Constantly thinking about building energy reserves so as to avoid burnout

Best Scheduling Practices For Community Managers

Running a community is no easy task, especially when several social media networks are involved. Community management is demanding, and it’s important to meet the needs of community members while also posting relevant content for members to discuss. Because of the various activities that a community manager must keep track of, it’s important to know how to effectively use a calendar.

Author Richard Millington of Buzzing Communities offers the following tips:


Calendars can get messy! Make sure to use a system that works best for your community

1. Don’t forget about offline content! Although lots of information is online, don’t forget to stay in touch with what’s happening around you physically.  Millington points out that “you can look at both online and offline content produced within the sector to identify…popular categories.”

2. Plan out your weeks – Millington discusses how different categories of news should be posted daily while certain categories of posts can be reused every week. This variation is okay, as long as it is planned out accordingly. Using a calendar to figure out which content should be posted on certain days of the week is helpful when determining to push content.

3. Don’t forget about subcategories – It’s not enough to put that you’re going to talk about something as generic as “news” on a particular day. Millington emphasizes the importance of subcategories, and to be specific when defining posted content. Eliminating ambiguity helps define clearer goals for you and your team.

Although Millington’s tips are helpful, he fails to mention different methods of keeping track of all these tasks. Some helpful tools to keep you in check with all of these tools include:

1. Google Calendar – If you’re an avid fan of Google, have a Gmail account, or like color coded calendars, Google Calendar is a great way to keep track of different schedules. Your calendar can also sync up with your phone which allows you to view and modify your schedule while on the go.

2. Physical Wall Calendar – Lots of companies like to see things written on walls rather than on small computer screens. If you have a lot of space in your office, utilizing the space on a whiteboard can allow you to write all over your schedule, which is something you can’t necessarily do in a digital environment. If you have a wall that you want converted into a large whiteboard space, that can be easier to create than you think!

3. Wiggio – Wiggio is an online calendar that allows you to create events that can also sync with your other calendars. With SMS alerts that keep you on track, you won’t have to worry about what you need to do at each point throughout the day. The calendars can also be viewed by certain groups, which can be incredibly helpful for when you are working with a large team.

Regardless of how you schedule your calendars or the medium in which you choose to update it, it is important to stay organized and stay up to date with the content that needs to be managed within a community. Using the tools and techniques above, you can be well on your way to effectively managing a community!

How do you keep track of scheduling within your community? Do you have other tips or advice? Let us know in the comments below! 

Community Management: Now What?!

Whenever things come to a close, I always ask myself “now what”? Now, as we’re nearing the end of the CMGRclass, I find myself asking that same question. I feel like it applies in a few situations based on this week’s readings as well as the course in general.

So… you’re a community manager with a strong, growing community. Now what?!

For new communities, a Community Manager must help create the community and build it from the ground up. Once it hits the ground running and gains some success, the responsibilities of a CM grow larger. It’s exciting when your community becomes successful, but sometimes it means that the CM responsibilities become too much to handle. At some point, you’re going to have to start thinking bigger.

This week, we learned about the importance of scaling and how it will be beneficial to the future success of your community. Once your community is growing out of your own reach, you have to start looking to your community members for help. Richard Millington (FeverBee) suggests implementing processes that scale. The 11 processes he mentioned are as follows:

  • Recruit, train, manage and motivate volunteers.
  • Rewriting guidelines if they are violated too frequently
  • Encourage members receive a prominent by-line in the news article.
  • Setup a community e-mail address which several volunteers can access and reply to.
  • Teach volunteers to recruit and train other volunteers.
  • Ensure members can identify and remove bad posts.
  • Automate members inviting their friends.
  • Let members apply to run various forum categories.
  • Allow members to create their own groups, initiate events, start live-discussions.
  • Start a tradition of regulars welcoming newcomers.
  • Write detailed guidelines for doing your job.
Now what? Be ready for opportunities, and don't be afraid to take them! Taken from

Now what? Be ready for opportunities, and don’t be afraid to take them!
Taken from

All of these posts revolve around the same idea: let your community members help you out. Your community members should become ambassadors of the community, and you can rely on them to post content as well as moderate it. It’s a community, so treat it like one. Give your members responsibilities, and reward them for their help. This has two benefits. The members get the sense of pride and accomplishment knowing that they are an influential part of the community, and you get the satisfaction of knowing that the weight is being lifted from your shoulders. Now you have time to focus on thinking of what the community can do next!

So… you just finished CMGRclass and you’re about to graduate. Now what?!

This is one of the best classes I’ve taken at Syracuse. In only a few short months, I feel as though I am prepared to step into the world of Community Management–or at least prepared enough to test the water. Before this class, I will honestly say that I did not know what Community Management was. Now, I’m expanding my job search to include positions in this field. The course has absolutely prepared us with the skills necessary to become successful, but it was also great to read the article dedicated to aspiring Community Managers.

A few of Vadim Lavrusik’s 10 tips really stood out to me.

Be authentic “it’s not just about having a voice, but having an authentic one”. A company can easily set up social media accounts and call it a day. Starting a community is about going the extra mile to be personable and make relationships. This is only possible if you’re true to yourself and you are authentic. No one is interested in joining a community or supporting a brand they cannot relate to. Be more about the people, and more about being yourself, and don’t become a “faceless” brand.


Comcast is a great example of "being authentic". They are personable and all about their members! Taken from

Comcast is a great example of “being authentic”. They are personable and all about their members! Taken from

Listen, add value, and build relationships — this goes hand in hand with being authentic. It’s incredibly important to listen to the conversations between members in your community. This is how you’ll gain feedback that can be used to make changes that will better your company or community. Even if you’re not a community manager, these three tips are crucial to success. Building relationships is so important. You never know who will need your help down the road.

Think like an entrepreneur and be quick to adapt — you need to have a vision and be ready for anything. Being quick to adapt was a reoccurring theme this semester and something I can definitely vouch for. This summer, during my internship, I was complimented many times for being ready for anything and able to fix or make changes quickly. A little bit goes a long way.

Lastly, the biggest “now what?!” of all — getting a job!

The job search won’t be fun (or easy), but now I know what to look out for. I know that the job description will reveal a lot about whether or not a company is right for me. If you’re an aspiring Community Manager, you should be confident that your potential employer knows what Community Management is and is utilizing it the right way. For example, if a job description for a CM says “manage social media accounts and that’s about it”, you probably would not be utilizing your talents and skills.

Now what?! For me, I’m not sure, but I’m excited to see where my CMGRclass lessons will take me!

4 Job Description Red Flags for Aspiring Community Managers

There are lots of positions for community managers, and for those that are interested, the hardest part can be knowing what’s the best fit for you. A position for one place might seem like a great opportunity – but how do you know that?

When you’re looking for a job, there are all kinds of things you want to see. You’re looking for something that fits your qualifications, is located in a desirable area, and is with a good company. The only bad part is that you don’t know what you’re going to get until you actually start the job, and even then it’s easy to feel stuck when the position turns out to be less than ideal.

In #CMGRclass, we’ve talked a lot about how some companies just don’t know what to do with community management, and thus don’t know what to do with a community manager. Here’s how to find out what if a company might not quite get it yet just from the job description.

1. A lack of personality


Does the job description give you a sense of the work environment at the company? If the job description seems formulaic, it might be a sign that the company doesn’t understand the kind of person they’re looking for – or worse, it doesn’t understand what kind of company they are. Look for cues on company culture within the job description so you can really know if it’s right for you.

2. Non-specific description


“Experience with social media,” “understanding of analytics,” “we’re expecting you to cover everything and anything.” Okay, you might not see that last one, but if the job description seems like a catch-all for web buzzwords, continue on your search. This is yet another sign that this company probably doesn’t know what community management is really about.

3. All you can see is “Social Media”


If you’re serious about taking a community manager role, you should already know that community management is not social media. Yes, you should have a good grasp on how to fit them into an overall community management strategy, but it should not be your job to manage social media accounts. That’s a social media manager’s job.

4. Too good to be true


If the job makes promises, like 9-to-5 hours … do your research. It’s okay to be skeptical. A company culture that believes work only happens only in 8 hours of the day probably doesn’t understand how community management doesn’t sleep. Even worse, it might force you into becoming that community manager that wakes up the next morning with a total social media meltdown on your hands. You can always check LinkedIn to see if the company has a good team in place! If you can’t find other community managers on their bench, look for another listing. This one isn’t for you.

While some of this advice comes from my personal experience looking at job descriptions, huge thanks to Erin Bury and Jenn Pedde for providing the inspiration for this blog post! Go check out their posts for more on what to look for in a community management job.

Have you seen any truly horrible community manager job descriptions that just get it all wrong? Would you ever apply to a red-flag listing so you can tell them what community management is?

An Open Letter to Aspiring Community Managers

So you’ve decided you want to become a Community Manager. Congratulations! In this letter I’m going to talk about two things: you and your community.

Image Courtesy of Pablo Casuriaga.

Let’s start with you, ‘cause, hey, you’re pretty darn awesome. If you want an idea of what a Community Manager’s job is going to be like, read through Erin Bury’s blog post, “Community Manager Job Description, A Definitive Guide.” Bury goes into a lot of detail about what you can expect (content creation, social media marketing, event planning, PR, customer relations, marketing, analytics and business development) and what people who need a CM are looking for. It sounds like a lot, it is, but it’s worth it.

Since we’re starting with you, let’s use Vadim Lavrusik’s blog post, “10 Tips for Aspiring Community Managers” as a jumping off point. I won’t be covering everything he talks about so I highly suggest you check out his full post (there’s also a great bonus section at the end too).

1. Be an Expert, Love your Company and be the Community’s Advocate: Before you start as a Community Manager for a company you should be well-versed in everything they do and you should like the company and product. “Good community managers are ones that are genuine advocates and evangelists for their products and their users.” This also means you should understand where the user is coming from. If it’s hard to connect with them imagine it’s you and you’re giving advice to yourself or to friends or family. Be respectful and give as much information as possible.

2. Be Authentic, Listen and Brush Up on your Communication Skills: The key to being authentic is being you: don’t try to be someone you’re not. For example, I am an enthusiastic person by nature and when I write to people I tend to use exclamation marks a lot and smiley faces. Listening is a very important skill to have, especially when it comes to others. Like being authentic, people will be able to feel comfortable around you and won’t be nervous about sharing feedback. It will help you build relationships is others know you’re willing to hear what they have to say. Effective dialogue is important. The role of a community manager is to connect with others. This also extends to writing, being a good writer will help you when it comes to responding to your community members.

Image Courtesy of Elkokoparrilla.

Let’s skip ahead now. Congratulations, you’ve created a fabulous community and it’s growing! But now you’re feeling overwhelmed. You’re finding yourself checking every email, making sure no one’s fighting and making sure everyone’s okay when you realize: you’ve turned into a parent. You’re running around taking care of everyone but yourself. It’s good to check in with your children and make sure everything’s okay but make sure to let them shine!

So what can you do? You have a fabulous community but you need help. So where do you turn? To your oldest, most outgoing and motivated members, of course! They are the ones who care about this community just as much as you do and who will help you prioritize.

“But wait,” I hear you say, “Hannah, it’s my baby, I don’t want to hand over my responsibilities to others!” Relax. Take a deep breath. It’s okay to delegate responsibilities! No one can run a community all by themselves. It’s okay to ask for help. If you’re unsure where to start, Richard Millington founder of FeverBee has eleven suggestions on how to lighten your load that serve as, “both technical, administrative and personnel-oriented.” I’ve shortened and combined them below (for the full list, click here):

1. Volunteers: Get a hold of some of your best and make them ambassadors for you. (Unsure why you should have some? Click here.) This is will also help you when it comes time to recruiting new volunteers. One activity volunteers can do is greet the newest members.

2. Guidelines: Are people continuing to break guidelines? Maybe it’s time to change them. This is an exercise that works well outside the of Internet too – most of my classes spend the first day talking about class guidelines to make sure we respect each other. This also extends to administrative guidelines, like how to resolve disputes with your company’s best interest (be fair but make sure you don’t promise something you can’t deliver on).

3. Content: Let some of your most trusted community members be in charge of content. If they’re writing for you make sure their name is featured prominently, they’ll feel good about themselves and you’ll have less work to do. Make sure part of that responsibility is going through comments and approving or denying bad posts.

4. Administrative: Create a community email address that your ambassadors have access too that can allow multiple people to access. This way the email load is divided. If you chose to do this make sure there is a system to document which member responded to what issue. Responding to the same person twice or three times is nice, you care, but if it’s five times the member with the issue might get irritated.

5. Acknowledgement: We’ve covered it a little above but here’s something else you can do: if one of your ambassadors excels in an area your company covers, let them try running a program (a forum, Q&As etc.)

Image Courtesy of Enrique Martinez Bermejo.

Yay! You are now one step closer to becoming a community manager! All that remains is for you to go out and try it! It’s a lot of fun and I promise you’ll find it to be rewarding. It’s hard at times but don’t forget to take deep breaths, ask for help when you need it and remember: have fun.

Lots of love,

For Community Managers: in the comments below share advice you wish someone had given you and if you’re interested in becoming a community manager tell me know why: were you inspired by something? Have you done something like this before?

Community Management: How to Get Hired

Land a job as a community manager! (photo via

The job of “community manager” hasn’t necessarily been defined before a few years ago, especially in the digital space. But students are flooding from colleges after graduation to potential employers in an effort to get hired as a community manager. But what are employers looking for? How can you prepare for your interview? Is this industry right for you?

Here are three skills/tips you need to get hired as a community manager:

1. Strong communications skills

This one seems obvious, but some people think that just because this job is “digital” but this job has plenty offline aspects as well. A community manager must be a strong writer, speaker and really understand people. A public relations background is always helpful, especially in time of crisis and dealing with the consumer. It’s a people business, so if you don’t like people then you probably shouldn’t be applying! The “management” aspect of the job also falls under this category. The best bosses and managers have employees that love them because they’re strong communicators and get their message across. We learn about the importance of transparency but you can’t be transparent unless you know how to get your message out there. The business is all about storytelling, which is why strong communications stills are so important.

2. Organized

Organization is key and your employer will be able to sense if you aren’t organized. If you aren’t organized you’ll probably be in way over your head in the business. A community manager deals with so much data and information. There are tons of numbers to analyze and make sense of and then apply to your strategy. One major aspect of community management is content curation. Bringing together a ton of different content from different platforms and making sense of it is another reason why community managers need to stay organized. Without good organizational skills, it would be hard to make sense of why you were curating the content and the message behind it.

3. Be a member of your community

This is the most important tip of all because if you aren’t a member of your community and truly engaged in it, you wont be successful as a community manager. You must be able to understand the community members and I don’t think that’s possible unless you’re a member of the community as a whole. So if you’re trying to get hired, don’t go into a job interview and have no idea about the company or community because you wont get hired. Research the community and start playing a role in it before heading into your interview. Show your employer that you care about the community, because if you can be a part of it, you can manage it.

Fore more great tips for prospective community managers, check out this article.

How To Get A Job As A Community Manager

“We’re in the age of social media.” How many times have you heard that before? It’s true! We are immersed in a world where social media has become part of our lives. The first thing some people do in the morning is check their phone and check their social media. It’s also the last thing some people do before they go to bed at night. Such a high dependence on social media has led to an increase in the need for a community manager, or someone to cultivate communities around products, brands, and services. When looking for a job as a community manager, it’s important to know what to look out for.

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 6.12.43 PMThe Job Description

In an article by Erin Bury, the typical job responsibilities of a community manager are listed. They include content creation, social media marketing, customer relations, and gathering analytics. A common misconception of community managers is that they sit on Facebook and Twitter all day and read tweets. It’s important to note that community managers do much more than that. Creating strategies, analyzing data, and connecting with the right people is all part of the job description.

What They’re Looking For

In addition to having the skills, it’s also important that you have the right attitude and work ethic for the community management position. Hiring managers and recruiters will be looking to make sure that you fit the part. According to Bury, it’s also important to have an outgoing personality, writing skills, social media experience, and an interest in the industry. When looking to work for a certain brand, it’s important to research that company and make sure you have what they’re looking for. Lots of companies will often have job descriptions on their website, making them easily accessible to those who are interested.

What Else?

Bury does a great job of outlining the different skills necessary to be a good community manager. In her post, she also shares examples of community management job descriptions. While Bury does a great job of covering all the bases of looking for a community management job, it’s also important to remember that a job/brand has to fit your personality too. While a company can list what they’re looking for in a community manager, it’s also important that you consider what you’re looking for in a company. Different brands have different tones and work styles. Make sure you find something that fits in well with you, too!




Top 3 Tips for New Community Managers

It is crazy to think that it is the last week of the semester. With all these wonderful topics we have discussed, it is a great idea to wrap up the semester discussing some last tips for aspiring community managers and potential jobs and the job outlook for community managers or social media managers. One of the articles this week titled, “10 Tips For Aspiring Community Managers” by Vadim Lavrusik really gave great insight into some “do’s” if you get the chance to become a community manager.

Lavrusik’s Top 10

Lavrusik’s top ten were as follows:

1. Be an expert of your product or company
2. Love the product and company
3. Work on your communication skills
4. Blog and have a social presence
5. Be authentic
6. Be multi-skilled and prioritize platforms strategically
7. Listen, add value, and build relationships
8. Engage online and off
9. Think like an entrepreneur and be quick to adapt
10. Empower your colleagues to be community builders

While I truly think these are all extraordinary tips, there are 3 that really stand out to me.

My Top 3


Photo courtesy of Dirk Bartels and Olaf Lewitz

Photo courtesy of Dirk Bartels and Olaf Lewitz

Be an expert of your product or company – This is a big one for me. There are so many instances in which I have personally experienced someone working for a company and doesn’t have a clue about their product. While this person might not be a community manager, I can definitely see how crucial it is to have knowledge of the product and company. I mean, you are trying to build the brand and influence the community. You should definitely know a good deal about it. I love the quote in the article stating, ” It’s important to research the relevant aspects of the company with a “fine tooth comb mentality” because you truly do have to do your homework. A community manager is very important to the brand, and in my opinion, if you don’t know the ins and outs of the product or organization, it can be a big disadvantage.

Be multi-skilled and prioritize platforms strategically – I always knew that you would have to be multi-task and be multi-skilled in order to be an effective community manager. But, I didn’t exactly know how important that would be until the last panel we had. Jenn Lopez who is a community manager at Moz, really opened my eyes to this. She discussed how it is so important to be able to do multiple tasks. In her department, she makes sure everyone has the skills to do any job. That way, if someone falls ill or someone simply isn’t there, other people can step up and help. Every day could be different for a community manager, and that is something I have learned in this class. Being prepared by having numerous skill sets is a plus because like already stated, you never know a skill that could come in handy when you’re engaging with your community!

Engage Online and Off – the more I research and learn, the more I find this important, especially for an aspiring community manager. It’s obviously crucial to engage online with the community, but it is also very important to engage offline. When we had the last panel, Topher, a community manager at Google discussed how having community manager hangouts and different meet ups have really influenced him and the people he has met in these hang outs have become his mentors. Meeting up not only improve your communication skills, but it can also build long-lasting relationships. A great quote from Lavrusik’s article is as follows, “Though online community is important, connecting with people in-person will help strengthen the relationships you build.” With someone seeking a community management position, relationships and communication are key and engaging offline may be able to help you get into that position that you are seeking.

Question to consider

While these are my top 3, they may not be yours. Ultimately, I think the biggest question would be:

Listen up!: Using comments, blogger outreach, and ambassador programs to build your community

When trying to grow or maintain your community, it is essential to provide your audience with unique opportunities to interact with your brand. Comments, blogger outreach, and ambassador programs are all paths through which a CM can better connect with the community. Read on to see what I’m talking about.

Read between the lines

As if it hasn’t been said enough times, Buzzing Communities reminds us that the customer is always right! ALWAYS. Take it from someone who has angrily reached out to brands on social media many times, I always remember which brands were pleasant to deal with, and which were not. Online conflict resolution is not only vital in that it calms dissatisfied customers, but the manner in which this resolution is dealt with speaks highly to the brand — and the reason why it’s included on this list.

Blogger Outreach
Why is this even necessary?

Unlike journalists, most bloggers are not constrained by traditional media models. In The Best Practice Guide for Effective Blogger Outreach, an eBook by InkyBee, it is noted that bloggers have instant and exponential reach. They are also a source of “earned media,” a relationship that is based on a real connection — both on and offline. PR professional Sally Falkow said that a BlogHer study showed that women in the US rank blogs as their “number one source of information.” That’s a lot of people. That’s a lot of power.

The first steps

Once you decide blogger outreach is the way you want to go, you need to devise a plan. First, consider all of the possible outcomes that, according to Jenn Pedde’s “Building Community in Blogger Outreach” presentation, blog outreach can yield:

  • SEO/link building
  • Increased sales
  • Engaged customers/users
  • Product testing
  • Being the dominant voice in your industry
  • Being the most trusted voice in your industry

Next, InkyBee recommends identifying the blogs where the target audience lives. And Pedde reminds us that not all blogs are created equal. In fact, according to a chart entitled “Blogger Outreach: Tiers of Blogging and Link Building” (Fig. 1) in her presentation, there are five tiers of blogs: news outlets, large blog outlets, influencers, specific subject, and everyone else.

Blogger Outreach: Tiers of Blogging and Link Building (via Jenn Pedde's "Building Community in Blogger Outreach")

Fig. 1: Blogger Outreach: Tiers of Blogging and Link Building (via Jenn Pedde’s “Building Community in Blogger Outreach”)

Perhaps the most important piece of advice offered from InkyBee is to remember to personalize your pitch to the blogger. Investigate how they prefer to communicate — Twitter, Facebook, Quora — and capitalize on it. You need to offer something that mutually beneficial; no one likes to walk down a one-way street.

Keeping it going

Once this mutually beneficial relationship is established, be sure to not let the relationship die. You’ve worked this hard – so keep it up! Thank them, continue providing them with good content, and maybe treat them to a nice lunch 🙂 Be sure to also store his/her contact information and maintain and updated blogger database.

Brand Ambassador Programs
Say what?

brand ambassador program, as defined by Mack Collier:

… allows for an ongoing, working relationship with special customers who are fans of your brand. Their job is to stay in constant contact with your customers, not only promoting you to these customers, but also giving you invaluable feedback on what your customers think about your brand.

As a result, as a CM, you gain a greater understanding of your target and can pass along valuable insights to your marketing and advertising teams. Brand ambassador programs are especially helpful for larger companies, who find it overwhelming to connect with their consumers.

Collier offers 10 tips for creating a brand ambassador program. Three of my favorites are:

  • Spread the world internally as well as externally
    • If you don’t have the entire organization behind any given initiative, it’s doomed to fail
  • Make membership exclusive
    • You want to ensure that you are giving “membership” to the customers who are true advocates to the brand and who are truly committed. No phonies allowed!
  • Give your advocates direct access to the brand
    • Be sure that your ambassadors have access to some executives or people of significance at the company. These people are the “brand’s biggest defenders and advocates,” so it is essential that their voice is always heard by someone who has the power to enact change.

Buzzing Communities also recommends that brand ambassadors meet at least one of these criteria:

  • High levels of activity
  • High levels of expertise or passion for the topic
  • Distinctive contributions
  • Interesting real-life positions
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Great contacts
  • Overall strategic fit


Many agencies and brands who are looking to reach college students are now targeting these same students to be their brand ambassadors (image via MrYouth

Many agencies and brands who are looking to reach college students are now targeting these same students to be their brand ambassadors (image via MrYouth

Choose wisely!


Which of these three avenues do you think best suites your brand? Try them out and let me know!