Daily Archives: February 17, 2014

Community Moderation: My Facilitating Experience

This past week, in #CMGR class, I was designated to be the moderator (or facilitator) for the week. What does this exactly entail? Well, I had to basically initiate and stimulate, and sustain the conversations of the class community. That’s quite a bit to handle (*Cue the mini freakout*)!

Going into the week, I didn’t really know what to expect, or what I was really doing, in fact. Yet, there were a couple of valuable things I learned along the way: being a moderator is more difficult than it seems and moderating a community becomes easier as time goes along.

Local Citation Builder. "NA". 18 October 2008. Online Image. Flickr. 17 February 2014.

Local Citation Builder. “NA”. 18 October 2008. Online Image. Flickr. 17 February 2014.

The Challenges

According to Buzzing Communities, a book written by Richard Millington, the correct definition of being a moderator is to be a facilitator of sort. In my case this past week, I would categorize myself as acting like a managerial facilitator, one who sets the agenda for the community and directs the flow of discussion between its participants (2012). While playing the managerial facilitator role, I stumbled upon a couple of challenges:

  1. Providing Appropriate Content

One of the main responsibilities of a community moderator is to provide meaningful content that will spark discussion among its members. At the beginning of my journey as moderator, I wasn’t quite sure what type of information to start with; I knew the topic of the week was about Twitter and epic Twitterverse attacks/fails, yet with a subject that broad, where do you begin?! Another thing I was concerned about was discussing a topic, such as community management, one that I, myself, wasn’t familiar with before and one that my fellow classmates might not normally talk about on a regular basis.

I found that starting broad and getting more specific really helped, warming up the floor to the relating topics of the week. Then, the more specific questions were posed, which got more people conversing in the discussion. At first, my posts weren’t getting a lot of feedback, which being honest, can be discouraging. But, I learned to not give up, because as my moderation period progressed, I found content that I thought my classmates could relate to, connect to our class topics, and ultimately talk and debate about with each other.

2. Encouraging Participation

Another duty of a community moderator is to encourage participation among its members in the discussions, doing so by guiding members’ contributions, and ensuring plenty of activity on multiple posts (Millington, 2012). At the start of moderation, along with my uncertainty on chosen content, I also was feeling down because people weren’t responding to my posts. I didn’t know what to do; I didn’t want to be a nag and bug people to respond to my posts, because that’s no fun and really isn’t promoting a welcoming environment to contribute to. But at the same time, I wanted others to think about the content I had prepared for that day.

10703840764_c14b309849_o

Chan, Reginald. “NA”. 6 November 2013. Online Image. Flickr. 17 November 2014.

Thankfully, and eventually, my fellow classmates caught on to my posts and some great conversations started blossoming. How did I accomplish this? I really just tried to post SOMETHING everyday; if a post wasn’t getting a lot of feedback I would switch to an opposing topic, and would get some responses. I also tried to ask open ended questions in order to get a variety of answers from the participants. I learned, that in order to be an efficient moderator, you’re not just in charge of creating these conversations, but you’re also participating in them as well. If you’re not going to talk, who else will?

While it may have taken a bit to catch on, I did have some great participants. From being a moderator, listening and responding to other people’s thoughts really helped me to catch on to the topics at hand.

What did I learn?

Looking back on my moderator experience, I realize I went into this blindly; I had no previous experience with community management, and didn’t really have a clear idea of what it was or what it entailed. Now that I can say I’ve been a community moderator, I feel that I’ve learned so much about how to engage and learn with others, all in an online setting. If I had to sum up my lessons learned, I would say…

  • Community Management is a lot harder than it sounds- it takes creativity and dedication to ignite meaningful discussions
  • Trying to think of engaging and appropriate content is key for the activeness of a community
  • Encouraging member participation is undesirable, but sometimes necessary for responses
  • Switch up the “flavor” of your content
  • Pose open-ended questions to the members of the community
  • Be consistent and don’t give up

So, if you were like me, skeptical about trying community management and moderating out, I would say go for it! Like anything, the more you try it, the better you get at it. After this experience, I would definitely give community moderating another shot

 

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Tweet No Evil

Image via Flickr

Image via Flickr

The ancient Japanese proverb ‘See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ has had many meanings over the years. The most widely accepted opinion would be to always keep pure and honest intentions when interacting with those within your community. This can be done in many ways like only surrounding yourself with positive people, thinking encouraging thoughts, and making sure that everything you say only has good intentions around it. Think about that for a second. And now think about Twitter. At the time of its creation, this social media platform was used as a digital diary for those who wanted to divulge their inner fears or insignificant thoughts. Fast forward to today where it has evolved into one of the most accessible communication tools that we know today.

Twitters users are able to connect with their friends, family, and most importantly, favorite brands on a very personal level. Whether they’re using their 140 characters to try and win a contest or to show their latest latte purchase, these engagements have proven the foundation of a healthy online community. This doesn’t mean that a community manager can only expect to hear about the good things. This type of unique transparency also opens the doors for critics to come in and truly speak their mind.

An example of this would be a fictionalized case study done by The Harvard Business Review. In this example, a CEO, a director of social media, an account manager, and the head of communications are brought together to solve a PR crisis that takes place over Twitter. The company planned to create a hashtag that would allow people to tweet in and win roundtrip plane tickets to the destination of their choosing. When they saw the negative feedback that they were getting, they sat and deliberated about whether or not to cancel the content and make everything go away.

There are many instances that can cause the Twitterverse to turn against you:

  • Publicity gone awry
  • Any change in a product or service (malfunction, new features, etc.)
  • Rogue employee (case in point: Justine Sacco)
  • Corporate change such as a massive layoff

While there are no special recipes that can help your company survive an attack from your Twitter community, there are some things that you can do to ensure that you can weather the storm and come out on top. Here are a few things to remember when Twitter turns on you:

  1. Acknowledge what happened. One of the first things that any community manager must do is acknowledge when your community has any grievances. Whether it’s a tweet stating that you’re listening or even a Q&A to ease people’s concerns, you cannot ignore your community.
  2. Honesty is the ONLY policy. One of the most important qualities of a community manager is their ability to be an honest and open communicator. If you have a strong community behind your brand, and you want to keep them, you must never tell a lie. Not only will your followers lose faith in you, it ruins your credibility with them and any potential followers they may be connected to.
  3. Don’t silence your audience. Sometimes, your community just needs to get their aggression out. They want to know that you value their feedback and not just their attention for your benefit.
  4. Document what you’ve learned. Each mistake is a learning opportunity. Whether you get the outcome you desired or not, you will be able to walk away with knowledge about how to address a situation like this again in the future. It’s better to be prepared than surprised.
  5. Don’t let the Twitterverse scare you. There are always going to be situations where someone is unhappy due to one reason or another. A successful community manager doesn’t let a hurdle stop them, but rather uses it as a learning tool and a stepping stone to their next goal.

Can you think of any points that I’m missing? Do you have any experience with a Twitter Crisis? Feel free to comment or tweet me at @AlexisMadison20.

Good Community Management Helps Shine Rainbows Over the Stormy Twitterverse

The Case Study: When the Twitterverse Turns on You outlines a social media campaign on Twitter for Canadian Jet, a fictional airline with a lackluster reputation. The plan was to use the hashtag #CanJetLuxury for a Twitter contest that would reward the user who posted the most creative tweet with a set of round-trip tickets. It sounds innocent enough but those who work in the Twitterverse know that brand-sponsored campaigns are easy prey for trolls and disgruntled customers.

After a few short hours, the hashtag was hijacked with accusatory tweets such as “Arriving a day late to your daughter’s wedding #CanJetLuxury.” The team went into a panic. The article closes by asking if they should throw in the towel.

So, Should Canadian Jet Cancel the Contest?

Absolutely not. By definition, a campaign is a systematic course of aggressive activities (dictionary.com). It is not a Twitter announcement followed by second thoughts.

online_community

When you bring your branded message into Twitter’s public stream of consciousness, you should not expect sunshine and rainbows. You expect to create the sunshine and rainbows.

After all, isn’t that what community management is about –bringing dazzling experiences to people? Helping them discover why they love you, over and over again?

The problem posed in this case study is only a problem because the company’s conversation about what to do when faced with negative tweets was supposed to happen long before the campaign launched. This failure to plan raises questions about their Twitterverse aptitude.

Want to check your readiness for the Twitterverse?

Here are Five Diagnostic Questions About Your Twitterverse Aptitude

  1. Are you energized by the opposition? Andrea Kemp, the company’s account manager from Wrigley & Walters who advised Canadian Jet, thrived in this high-pressured environment.
  2. Do you know what you are getting into? Critics can reduce your beloved hashtag into a mere “bashtag” if you mismanage the campaign.
  3. Do you see the glass as half full or as half empty? Do you disregard positive tweets when faced with a negative one? (Warning: In cases like  #AskJPM the glass was quickly emptying. Recognizing that shows your realism, not pessimism.)
  4. Do you give the silent treatment? Social media is inherently social so if you are not prepared to respond to what is in front of you this might not be the best venue.
  5. How is your agility? Be responsive to changing conditions when sailing through the Twitterverse. This does not mean that you cannot plan. It simply means that your plan needs to account for the possibility of inclement weather.

What Can We Learn?

There are three lessons to be learned from this case study.

  1. #CanJetLuxury was out of touch. While the campaign was a great way to breathe life into their brand, it seems like organizers expected the announcement  of the Twitter contest to absolve them of any hostility that had developed in the previous years.
  2. They gambled. They did not have a plan in place for negative tweets, even though they were aware of the risk.
  3. They held a meeting when they should have been tweeting responses. They should have countered the negative tweets immediately, rather than reassessing the campaign as a whole.

Have you ever suspended a campaign? We would love to learn about your experiences in the comments below.