Monthly Archives: December 2013

Being More Than Just a Representative

Monitoring Social Media is One Thing… Being a Community Manager is So Much More

Social media and community managers seem to be closely affiliated; however, their roles are drastically different. Some companies need to have a community outside of social media, while others would simply be wasting their time and money. But how do you decide whether or not to have a community, and where do you get started?

 

What should a social media manager or an online community manager be doing for your company?

Vanessa DiMauro, in an article titled “Social Media Manager vs. Online Community Manager: Same or Different?,” talks about the different roles of a social media manager and an online community manager within an organization.

Social media is tied to sales & marketing. Online communities are tied to product development & customer service. In the end, it all equates to money. Photo taken by Zachary J. Prutzman. All rights reserved.

Social media is tied to sales & marketing. Online communities are tied to product management & customer service. In the end, it all equates to money.
Photo taken by Zachary J. Prutzman. All rights reserved.

Social media managers can be tied closely to marketing and sales – they try to drive leads, raise awareness of products/services, give visibility to the company and its products, increase sales, and increase event attendance. They are trying to have as many people know about the company as possible.

Online community managers take on a role that can be tied more closely to product management and customer service, with a little bit of sales as well. They take feedback from customers and implement it into product development. They increase the utilization of the products. They answer customers’ questions and seek to reduce call center traffic by allowing customers to help each other. And they promote events and achieve customer retention/satisfaction.

 

Does your company even need an online community?

For most companies, social media itself is enough – there is no need for a larger online community. The key indicator is complexity; is the market and/or your product complex enough to deserve a community?

Simple, cheap products -- such as Sharpies -- do not need a community outside of social media.  Photo taken by alecs apple. All rights reserved.

Simple, cheap products — such as Sharpies — do not need a community outside of social media.
Photo taken by alecs apple. All rights reserved.

When it comes to low complexity markets, social media is king. An article by The Community Roundtable, titled “Differentiating Between Social Media and Community Management,” uses Sharpie pens as an example of a low complexity market. The product is simple, and the company just needs to create awareness and a sense of connection to the brand. Sharpie’s business model does not support spending hundreds of dollars to create a deep relationship with a customer who buys five bucks worth of product. Also, customers rarely do background research on products that are relatively cheap, and do not need a “How to Use Your Sharpie” pamphlet (it’s pretty self-explanatory).

On the other hand, high complexity markets and complex usage markets need to develop an online community (according to The Community Roundtable’s article). In these types of markets, the decision-making process is much longer and it is tough to achieve conversion. An example of this would be the Adobe Creative Suite, which is extremely complex (and expensive). Customers benefit greatly by interacting and building relationships with other customers, along with being recommended towards affiliated product and service providers. And in these markets, the price point is much higher – meaning that the business model supports this type of community engagement.

 

So you need a community… where do you get started?

If you’ve decided that building a community via social media the way to go, there are a few things you should know to help you get started. Megan Berry, formerly of Klout, has put together a great list of how to get your social media community off the ground. You can find it here.

If you’re trying to build an online community platform separate from social media, Stephanie Gehman has produced a nice article that looks at the approach that JetBlue has taken towards developing their community. You can find that article here.

5 Important Things to Know About Brand Ambassadors

Image Courtesy of Beth Kanter

As an undergraduate at Syracuse University I served as a Student Ambassador, Peer Advisor, Tour Guide and blogger for my home college (Visual and Performing Arts) and as a Global Ambassador for the SU Abroad Office. I was also approached to be a campus representative for a study abroad blogging site called Students Gone Global. I knew that through all these activities I was serving as an ambassador but that had never occurred to me, before the readings we had this week, was that I could also have been called a brand ambassador.

A brand ambassador is a marketing term referring to someone who promotes services or products for a company or organization. These ambassadors are meant to “be” the company: they are supposed to dress, talk and share the same values and ethics as the people they are representing.

Below is a combination of things I learned while serving as an ambassador and representative and insights from Britt Michaelian’s post, “How to Build a Fierce Loyalty for Your Brand” and Mack Collier’s post, “10 Things to Remember When Creating a Brand Ambassador Program”:

  1. Loyalty: If you treat your community well, people will want to become ambassadors for you. If you treat your ambassadors well they will do anything for you. Example: once I was given the title “Student Ambassador” I stopped complaining about showing up at events at 7AM and leaving after 5PM.
  2. Loyalty and Social Media: Michaelian brought up a really good point: “it is a beautiful thing that we can connect with people from all over the world in an instant on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ etc., but to meet face to face and connect in person brings the relationship another level. A level of loyalty that simply cannot exist when only online. Example: at the beginning when SGG asked if I wanted to be a campus representative I said “of course!” without really thinking about it because who would know if I wasn’t living up to those duties?
  3. Research: Collier mentions the importance of knowing who the advocates are within your company: researching who’s always commenting, liking, sharing, interacting and asking questions will probably give you a clue as to who you should grab as an ambassador. Another trick would be to mention applications, if the people you’ve been keeping track of take the time and initiative to fill them out, chances are they’re really invested in your company. Example: I wouldn’t say no to any task I was given. No matter how much homework I had or when I had to be at work, if there was a prospective student interested in a tour, I’d volunteer.
  4. Exclusivity: This is very important. Everyone wants to feel like they are important and valued by the people he or she works or volunteers for; but not only that, not everyone in your community would be a good ambassador. Collier sums this up perfectly, you want to weed out the customers that aren’t committed to the brand, or the program. The true advocates for your brand will already be doing much if not all of what you would require of them as members of the program.” This fits perfectly with another point Collier made, that it’s better to have, “10 truly passionate brand advocates than 10,000 members that are merely ‘meh’ toward the brand.”
  5. Acknowledgement: As Collier says, “we all love money, but for a true brand advocate they usually want other things.” Example: During the first year I volunteered for VPA I joked with family that what would perfect is if they started to pay me. Over time I came to realize that going to events was one of the best networking things I could do and it’s because of this that I was asked to be a Student Marshal for graduation.

These are just a handful of things that came to mind while reading about brand ambassadors. What are some other things people should know about ambassadors? Let me know in the comments below if you’ve ever been an ambassador for a company and what were some of the pros and cons.

 

My Experience Building a Social Brand & Ambassador Program

This week in #CMGR class we read about social brands and building ambassador programs, which are two topics I consider myself being familiar with. In fall 2012, during my sophomore year in college, I enrolled in IDS (idea, design, technology and startups) 401. The IDS program is a hands-on experience that guides you through idea curation and execution. After completing all three classes, I now have a startup company, Soulscarf that focuses on giving back.

Each soulscarf comes with the above hanging clothing tag.

Each soulscarf comes with the above hanging clothing tag.

Soulscarf is a scarf company and we donate 20% of the proceeds to the charity that corresponds with the color heart on your tag. We just hit our one year anniversary (yay!). Although we are growing, we are no where near where we aspire to be. Each day, I learn more and more and I have a feeling that my learning process is going to be never ending.

While reading Britt Michaelian’s piece, I was able to connect with what he was saying. Michaelian brought up a lot of good points about how social brands connect with their audience and in my opinion, everything he said was correct. I found that not only do social brands connect with their audience, but we also connect with other social brands. We believe that helping others is the key to success. For example, TOMS recently launched the TOMS marketplace. A marketplace full of social brands where customers can shop their products. By creating this marketplace, TOMS has given social brands a new selling avenue as well as a new window of opportunity.

I have also learned that social brands are willing to share more information about their company to other social brands. When speaking with another social brand startup, we usually end up sharing every detail. Our “secret sauce” is not a secret. We want other social brands to be just as successful as we are.

As a startup, having an ambassador program is an opportunity that I jumped on. Mack Collier wrote a piece that explains how to build a successful ambassador program. I also agree on everything that Collier wrote. Here at Soulscarf, we have an ambassador program that we call “Campus Reps.” The Soulscarf Campus Representatives act as a liaison between their school and Soulscarf. They have their own email portal and are also featured on our website. When a new product comes out, they get a sneak peak and also a free sample.

When building the Campus Rep program, I wanted to start small and gather reps from a concentrated area. I started in my home state of Michigan and was able to work with a rep from every large university. Right away, I noticed that most of my sales were coming from Michigan. I believe that having a majority of our reps from Michigan as well as having grown up in Michigan gave Soulscarf the opportunity to have vast growth within those areas.

Building a social brand is something you need to be extremely passionate about in order to succeed.  Appropriate content and communication are a must and should not be overlooked. You are not just representing your brand, but you are also representing the cause(s) that you give back to.

Below are some of my favorite social goods. They’re perfect gifts that keep on giving for the holidays!

Flamboyant Body Cream from Tiossan. Price: $38.00

Flamboyant Body Cream from Tiossan. Price: $38.00

Cranberry Infinity soulscarf from Soulscarf. Price: $44.00

Cranberry Infinity soulscarf from Soulscarf. Price: $44.00

Charcoal Suede Pop Desert Wedges from TOMS. Price: $89.00

Charcoal Suede Pop Desert Wedges from TOMS. Price: $89.00

Poppy hat from Krochet Kids.

Poppy hat from Krochet Kids. Price: $37.95

 

Doing Your Homework: The Key to Becoming a Great Community Manager

Reading

CMs need to learn on-the-go. From moriza on flickr.

The easiest way to become a terrible community manager is to focus solely on your own community.

Does that seem contradictory? It shouldn’t. A past panel mentioned that community managers aren’t just managing members – they’re also managing communities within communities. Same goes for the other way: your community is probably one among many other communities just like it. If you’re going to get anywhere with your community, you need to be a full incorporated member of sister communities, too.

So what’s the biggest thing you can do to strengthen your community management skills?

It’s simple: research.

In a presentation on Blogger Outreach, Jenn Pedde (our own #CMGRclass leader!) offers some advice in a presentation one how to stand out from the crowd in the sea of community managers.

KNOW YOUR BLOGS

This is a logical first step for CMs. Understanding where your blog exists among others is the best way to understand your position and to whom you need to reach out.

RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH

Another step to building a community is reaching out. A great way to spread the word is to create an ambassador program: an integrated team of people who love yours community and want to help it grow. When creating this team, Mack Collier insists that research is key to understand who will be the best people.

You can’t just sit back an pick the most active people: you need to watch, listen, and converse with people. Research, after all, isn’t just reading up!

EVERYTHING IS STRATEGIC

From Britt Michaelian’s blog post, she emphasizes how people are rejecting traditional marketing, and instead they crave connection.

Community managers are driven by this demand to supply connection, and most likely they are the kind of person that’s naturally good at it. What Michealian reminds us is that it’s important to remember how every action by a successful community manager is backed by a strategy. Every exchange is carefully crafted to maximize returns to the community.

Although “strategic” and “crafted” sounds like community managers aren’t genuine, it’s actually a good thing. CMs, after all, want people to find connections in their community. That’s their job. If a community manager can help someone make that connection, they try their hardest to establish it. Wouldn’t you want someone to do that for you?

This means that community managers are consistently watching other communities and community managers and learning from their every move. Where have they made mistakes? What has made them a big success? What are the best tried-and-true methods? When is it a good idea to step outside the box?

Being a community manager is like being in a relationship: they are not easy to maintain, they take a lot of work, and you learn from the past to get better next time. The only way to keep afloat is to constantly learn, make mistakes, reevaluate, and try hard.

What do you think about researching for community managers? If you’re a community manager, do you actively research throughout your day or week? Or is it more passive?

Moderating Is Cool… If You Have Time

Moderating is Anything but Moderate

I quickly discovered that moderating is not easy. The amount of posts that come in every day can quickly get overwhelming, especially if you have other things on your plate. It was difficult to keep up with all the comments that were being left on the page.

By the middle of the week, I realized that I needed to change something about my approach. I set up alerts for the Google+ community on my phone so that I could reply to posts if I was free. If not, I scheduled a time period every day to check back in with the community. One scheduled daily check-in + alerts = success.

 

Contests Work

Using contests - such as having community members post their Klout score - promotes user-involvement.

Using contests – such as having community members post their Klout score – promotes user-involvement.
Screenshot taken by Zachary J. Prutzman. All rights reserved.

One thing that I discovered while moderating this week is the fact that contests work. Janine McElhone had mentioned on the Google+ community that she used Klout to measure some metrics on her social media pages. I checked out the website myself and found that it was very interesting to see the metrics on your own personal social media sites. It displays the impact that you have on your friends or followers through a variety of graphs and statistics, then sums it all up in a Klout Score.

I thought that visiting this site could be beneficial to everyone in the class, but it is repetitive to keep saying “Hey guys, you should really check out this link.” Since no one had used a contest before, I thought this might be a good way to get people to visit the site and post their score for others to see. By offering a free dinner to the person with the highest Klout Score, I had a plethora of people posting their scores.

But I soon found that the contest turned dry because Janine had posted such a high score. I found a way around this, however; I told the community that I would post an embarrassing photo of myself if 10 people reported their scores. I think that this truly got more people involved in the competition, regardless of their Klout Score. The key wasn’t the score – it was to get people to visit the site and learn something about metrics.

 

Difficult to Change User Behavior

Changing user behavior is incredibly difficult, no matter who the user is. All rights reserved by homecaregiverstore@gmail.com.

Changing user behavior is incredibly difficult, no matter who the user is.
All rights reserved by homecaregiverstore@gmail.com.

One thing that I noticed throughout the semester thus far is the fact that our class has been using the Google+ community much more than it has been using Twitter. I tried to post some information on Twitter, but it seemed to be going nowhere.

It is very difficult to change user behavior – this is something I have encountered when it comes to application design. Unfortunately, I did not come up with a creative way to get the community to use the Twitter hashtag. I challenge future moderators to achieve this.

3 Dos (and 1 Don’t) for Reaching Out to Bloggers

This week’s topic of discussion dealt with blogger outreach, or, fostering a relationship with, and offering services to, online writers who might prove beneficial to a brand or company in some capacity. From class, we’ve learned that connection is key, but there are definitely right—and wrong—ways for going about it.

Image courtesy of Social Media Marketing University

DO…

1. …Have a goal in mind.

Blogger outreach starts in-house, a point stressed in the ebook, “The Best Practice for Effective Blogger Outreach,” which tells businesses to have objectives lined out. Much in the same way that an army can’t go to battle without a strategy, a business can’t extend itself online without an idea of why. Identifying one’s objectives also means identifying a target audience, effectively narrowing down the wide pool of bloggers on the Web to a relevant selection.

Tips:

  • Research potential target audience first. You should know everything about them going in—not the other way around.
  • Social media isn’t the only factor to keep in mind. PR and brand awareness is good and all, but not if they don’t translate into some sort of revenue.

2. …Be creative with your methodology.

According to “12 Ways Strong Social Brands Connect With Their Audience,” Britt Michaelian makes a point of saying that it’s not enough to just have a voice online; it should also be different from anything else online. Easier said than done, yes, but it helps if you’re already in touch with blogger lingo and etiquette, as referenced in “Building Community in Blogger Outreach.” Do what you see other prominent bloggers doing; tap into their interests and make it work to your advantage.

Tips:

  • As in real life, don’t be afraid to have a quirky personality. “Weird” or “eccentric” just means being one step above the white noise of the Internet.
  • The Denny’s blog, for instance, benefits from being hosted on Tumblr: They can post topical things they see other Tumblr users responding to and reblogging themselves.

3. …Build loyalty for your brand.

The best way of going about this is offering accessibility. In Britt Michaelian’s “How to Build Fierce Loyalty for Your Brand Community,” she argues for helping audiences feel “wanted and needed within the community.” By creating spaces for discussion and thinking in terms of we than I, brands can maintain conversation that will slowly but surely lead to support from within the community.

Tips:

  • Extend across social media platforms. The more places for discussion, the more loyal customers.
  • Lead, but don’t make it apparent. You’re not there to herd people around; you’re there to engage them.

DON’T…

1. …Forget to be human.

This seems to be at the crux of everything we’ve learned this semester, but that’s because it doesn’t become any less true the more we learn about community management. Press releases and cold calling (…blogging), then, are ill-advised ways of reaching out to bloggers. Instead, stay honest and stay personable. Don’t be afraid of humanizing a brand—thinking small-scale also means paying more attention to detail, which works miles on online readers.

Share your thoughts—or any other dos and don’ts—in the comments below!

How To Connect With Your Audience

This weeks topic was all about comments, blogger outreach, and ambassador programs. One article that I agreed with most was titled, “12 Ways Strong Social Brands Connect with Their Audience” by Britt Michaelia which gave great tips for brands to connect with their audience. A great quote in this article is as follows,

“The deeper we get into the social media age, despite its ever changing tides, the more clear it is how important connection is for establishing a bond with your audience.”

That is for certain. We are becoming more and more reliant on engaging with our audience. While there are twelve ways that successful brands connect with their audience, two of these in particular stood out to me and I will explain why.

Photo courtesy of Amanda Ryan via Google Images “labeled for reuse”

 

 

The Top 2

While I have to admit that all 12 of these ways that social brands connect with their audience are important, the two that struck me were:

  • They engage in meaningful conversations with their followers on a consistent basis.
  • They realize that without their audience, their message would not be heard, so they express and show gratitude often.

First, I think it’s pretty simple to understand that in order to connect with your audience, you are going to have to converse with them. But, the first bullet point states that you must engage in meaningful conversations with your followers on a consistent basis. That is where it differs from just simply engaging. Meaningful and consistent really make this bullet point stand out to me. There is a difference between a conversation and a meaningful conversation. Does the conversation pertain to your business? Will it positively help your company in any way? Also, the other word consistent is also very important. You can’t expect to connect with your audience if you are rarely engaging. Being consistent will keep the audience engaged. How many times do a week do you engage your audience? Are there days when you do not converse at all with the audience? All of these questions are ones to consider. I know that I personally do not like it when it feels like a brand goes M.I.A. and doesn’t respond or engage the audience for a while. This really puts a deep impression on them and routinely engaging with followers can eliminate this completely. 

Image courtesy of phat-kat-creative via Google Images "labeled for reuse"

Image courtesy of phat-kat-creative via Google Images “labeled for reuse”

Second, in order to connect with your audience, brands need to realize that they are nothing without their audience. Without them, their message would not be heard nor would it mean anything. This reminds me of a sport I particularly like. I am a big fan of snocross racing (snowmobile racing) which relies on fans and the audience. They are nothing without their audience. One of my favorite racers in particular realizes that he is nobody without them. He always has his race trailer open for people to come and engage with him in between races, as well as actively engaging with his fans via multiple social media platforms. It’s easy to see why he’s the most liked guy, and he has his audience to thank for that. He continuously thanks his fans (the audience in this case) and shows gratitude. This is pretty much the same as the second bullet, which is that the brand has to realize that without their audience, their message would not be heard, so they take the time to express their gratitude. Engaging with your audience makes all the difference and realizing how important they really are can go a long way. Showing your gratitude towards your audience can go even further.

Conclusion

I am not saying that these two are definitely the most important 2 from this article, but to me, they stood out. I think all twelve really encompass ways to connect with your audience. I ultimately think a little can go a long ways in terms of reaching out and engaging with your audience. Is it so hard to take 5 minutes out of your day to shoot a quick, “Thank you so much to our followers! Without you we wouldn’t be here!”?

Questions to consider:

Based on the list of 12, would would your Top 2 be and why?

Are there any more that you would add to the list?

 

My Week as a Moderator

Screen Shot 2013-11-24 at 11.15.55 PMI took on the role of moderator this week for the second time and the experience was a little more eye opening as I was moderating alone this time rather than with a classmate. I was also in a unique position because there was no assigned reading so the class was able to spit ball a little more than usual about interesting topics. A major disadvantage, however, was the fact that I moderated at a very busy time for students and didn’t see the high levels of engagement that many see during other weeks, which made discussion difficult on some topics.

Which network is the RIGHT network?

Many community managers must deal with this question on a daily basis. What content is best for a given social network? As moderator, I found that no one was engaging on twitter for whatever reason, so I posted the majority of my content on Google+. But I was cross-posting some content to twitter and now that I think back, I’m realizing that those two audiences are exactly the same, so what’s the point of posting the same content on each? Maybe they’ll see it one place but not the other? I think different content does better on different platforms but it’s harder to tell what that is in this small scale example.

Successful Conversation

I was so proud of one of the conversations that developed during my week as moderator. It was surrounding the subject of a brand’s influence and if they had an ethical obligation to help out when tragedy hits. Of course, they don’t have any legal obligation, but what about special ethical one? Some argued that there’s no real ethical responsibility but it really helps their public image, while others argued that with influence comes responsibility. Social media managers, community managers and public relations professionals are really starting to have a voice in the overall mission and objectives of companies, so this is an important question to be asking ourselves.

A great career

One item of content that came up during the week was the Wall Street Journal’s list of best and worst jobs of the year. I asked the community who was interested in actual pursuing the position as a career someday. The fact that community manager ranks in the top 40 of the list is definitely an incentive. I think the line of work is so appealing because of the daily interaction with people, even though it’s digital. Social media is obviously a huge up and coming industry. Combining that with building interactive and engaging communities sounds like a fun line of work. The negatives are that it’s a 24/7 job. You never really get a break in this line of work because communities don’t rest. You always have a responsibility to always be sparking conversation when it’s dull. And most importantly, you need to be ready to respond in a time of crisis.

How a Community Pays Off… So You Can Buy a Robot

Building an online community can be incredibly frustrating. Getting people on board with your community is a difficult task, especially when there are no other members. However tedious the process of acquiring members may be, it is well worth it in the end. As Dino Dogan points out in his article, “How To Build a Community of Fanatics,” community members will actually start doing your job for you… for free!

 

You’re Not a Robot

One huge thing to remember when dealing with the online world: you’re not a robot, and neither are the other members.

“No one wants to interact with a brand, a logo, a picture of your dog, a cartoon, or worse,” Dogan said.

People are starting to talk behind your back, saying that they think you're a robot... Show your face. Use your name. It makes a difference. Photo uploaded by Dan Coulter. All rights reserved.

People are starting to talk behind your back, saying that they think you’re a robot… Show your face. Use your name. It makes a difference.
Photo uploaded by Dan Coulter. All rights reserved.

People want to interact with other people. By doing two basic things, you can convince that you do not have robotic arms:

  1. Use a picture of yourself (a close-up of your face)
  2. Use your real name.

By adhering to these two simple rules, it will have a subconscious effect on others. It shows that you stand behind your words and actions; you’re not hiding behind a screen name and a puppy dog. You’re Zachary Prutzman, and you have something to say.

 

… Seriously, Though. You’re Not a Robot.

I don’t think I’ve stressed the whole not-a-robot thing enough. So I’m going to talk about it some more.

When starting a community, you need to reach members on a personal level.

David Spinks proposes a fool-proof community building strategy in his blog post, titled “How to Build a Community From Scratch.”

Step 1: Pick up the phone and call a community member. Ask them about themselves and their experience with the company.

Step 2: Invite them to a private Facebook group for your customers.

Step 3: Introduce them to the group and help them get involved in the discussion.

This sounds difficult, I know. But building a community will pay off in the future (keep reading – you’ll understand soon enough). You don’t have to call all your community’s members. Start with one, then the next, then the next. Making a personal connection shows that you value their opinions.

 

It’s Pay Day 

Finally, you’ve escaped the talk of robotics. It’s a relief. But not nearly as big a relief as building a successful community… cause now you can sit back and relax. Have a beer (I recommend having multiple beers, but to each his own).

***Quick side note: The rest of this article is only true if you have built a community of “fanatics.” Members must be active and willing to participate. If you have not reached this point, you need to read some more things on “How to Not Be a Robot.” Sorry.***

So, how will these “fanatics” make your job easier? Well, Dogan points out a variety of reasons:

  • Engaged members are the ones that will market for you while you sleep (… robots don’t need sleep. Maybe I should be a robot.).
  • They will field technical questions from other members.
  • They will fulfill your help-desk tickets.
  • They will recruit others to do the same.
  • They will do it all for free!

One thing that Dogan stresses is that members must be enthusiastic about your community… and this enthusiasm cannot be bought with money.

… but you could buy a robot. Just saying.

CMGRClass Panel: If the Hat Fits, Wear It!

One of the biggest themes throughout the semester has been the idea that a Community Manager must wear many different hats. In the past few years, the CM position has become more and more relevant and, because of that, it is still evolving. In previous posts, I’ve discussed how all Community Managers are unique, and responsibilities for each may vary. We’ve learned about how to make a community strong and how to get members engaged, but it’s important to dig deeper into what makes a strong Community Manager. Because the position is so demanding, it requires a very qualified individual.

Taken from Klout.com.

Taken from Klout.com.

This week, #CMGRclass was lucky enough to have panel of experts from four social and community-based companies: Lea Marino from Cycle for Survival, Topher Ziobro from Google Local NY, Jennifer Sable Lopez from Moz, and Sahana Ullagaddi from Klout. Many of our panelists (namely Topher and Sahana) agree with the “different hats” idea. What does this mean? How can a CM prepare himself/herself for such a responsibility?

A Strong and Diverse Background

A Community Manager has a wide variety of responsibilities, and most Community Managers need the diverse background to match. After watching each of the three panels, I noticed a trend among the panelists. Many panelists had previous jobs unrelated to the field of community or social management, but their past experiences have allowed them to be successful. The experts from this week’s panel were no exception.

Taken from https://plus.google.com/+GoogleLocalNewYork/posts.

Taken from https://plus.google.com/+GoogleLocalNewYork/posts.

Jen Lopez studied Journalism in college with a PR focus. After that, she worked in web development, technical consulting, SEO, and crisis management. This work allows her to answer customer service questions from a technical perspective as well as have a grasp on key community topics such as SEO, content, and crisis.

Lea Marino studied Public Relations in college. Post-graduation, she worked for a digital agency, app start ups, and social media agencies. This made her a powerful communicator.

Nothing’s Perfect Right Away

This goes hand in hand with having a strong background. These panels always help remind me that you won’t find the perfect fit right away. As Topher mentioned “mistakes are great to make,” and you won’t get it right on the first try.

Topher worked in sports marketing for his college’s athletic department and then at the Admissions office of a graduate art school.

Taken from twitter.com/Cycle4Survival.

Taken from twitter.com/Cycle4Survival.

Sahana studied economics in college and specialized in international development. After working as a “boring” management consultant, she realized her passion for people. It was this passion that led her to a career in Community Management!

Lea mentioned a conversation she had with her parents post-graduation regarding her internship experience. As a PR graduate who disliked any

internship she had, she worried that she wouldn’t find a job she would enjoy. She worked at a digital agency spent time with small start up companies, but she found her niche in social media. She used her PR skills and utilized social media as the perfect outlet to become a gatekeeper.

The Right Type of Person

Another trend amongst panelists (past and present) became clear–all seemed to posses an impressive amount of skills that allow them to be successful. They each mentioned what skills and traits are the most important for a successful Community Manager.

Jen: “you have to have the ability to make decisions quickly. If you don’t know the answer, you have to figure it out.”

Lea: you need to understand how to communicate digitally, and you must be empathetic. You have to understand “what’s being said behind the

Taken from Moz.com

Taken from Moz.com

words”.

Sahana: you need to have the “ability to receive feedback well, take it, and do something with it”.

Topher: “energy is hugely important” and you need to show that you can take challenges to know how to balance certain situations.

A successful CM is the perfect combination of skills, personality, and a strong, diverse background. It may not be for everyone, but if the hat fits, wear it!