This was my first time moderating any sort of discussions. I am more comfortable as a member, commenting and sharing additional articles to the community. It was a unique experience for me to take control of the discussion, and a great way to be introduced to community management without too much risk.
Going into my moderation week, I felt fairly confident. Our group on Google+ was getting great activity, with awesome comments and thoughtful discussions. It was great to share articles with the class and hear their opinions on issues raised in those articles. I was ready to step in as moderator to continue the great discussion for CMGR Class.
I had one main goal I set for myself at the start of the moderation; to post one article each day that I had found to be especially interesting. Not only was that the minimum requirement, but looking back at previous moderation weeks, it seemed like posting more than one link each day overwhelmed the community. I also had the unique situation of moderating midterm week, the week before Spring Break. I had to be aware of the time that people were able to spend on the Google+ community, as they balanced projects and studying.
An objective of a community manager is to listen, in order to understand what the community is most receptive to. This is why part of my goal is to only post articles that I found to be useful and thought-provoking. My reasoning: if I enjoyed reading it, others would too. In the Moderation chapter of Buzzing Communities, Richard mentions the sharing of information is a way to drive discussion between members (Millington, pg 69). I aimed to focus on quality over quantity in order to drive activity.
Since this was the week before break, I decided to focus on reinforcing the definition of community management and exploring the strategy involved. For me, it always helps to revisit what community building means at its core in order to apply new concepts/analyze strategy. Towards the end of the week I shared articles written that simplified the community building process. These articles were the ones that I found were the most interesting, and a result they received the most conversation and positive response.
It felt great that the articles that strongly resonated with me were helpful to others. Another topic that had a good discussion was whether Snapchat was an appropriate social media platform for a brand to spend time on. Members brought up great challenging points about the viability of Snapchat for a community tool, and that discussion was the highlight of my moderation week.
While I understood that it was a busy week for everyone, I still didn’t get the level of activity that I expected. It was also hard to know when to step in the comments and when to step back. There was a balance between probing the conversation and dominating it, and I feel like that was a skill that needed to be developed over time.
Another obstacle I ran into was that there was no readings for my moderation week. This meant I was left to create my own theme for the week, which ended up being slightly more difficult than I thought. I had to trust that others were interested in revisiting the core role of community managers.
Twitter was not as active as Google+, which was my fault for not focusing on it as much. I posted a total of three tweets during the week, two from my personal account using the hashtag #CMGRClass and one from the @CMGRClass Twitter account. The tweet about Ellen’s phone use during the Oscars got three click-throughs and a reply. I tweeted an article about why community managers build community, and that got one click-through and two favorites by non-classmates. I wish that I had found more things to share on Twitter.
A unforeseen disadvantage to my goal was that I spent a lot of time finding articles. Since I was only sharing things that I thought would be worth posting, I had to read more than I posted. All of our readings always say that time management and scheduling is an important part of community management, and this week I glimpsed the scope of time and effort put in.
I enjoyed being more central to the discussion and guiding the conversation. Everyone was very constructive and thoughtful in their comments, which is all you could really ask for.
Looking back, I know I could have done better in responding to comments and asking probing questions. I was too worried about dominating the conversation and that inhibited my ability to lead it properly.
A large part of moderating involves trial and error. I realized that the only way to truly become a great community manager is to actively apply the concepts to your community. This assignment was great since it gave a taste of moderating a community, but nothing compares to the adjustments needed when you are managing a community in the long term.