Daily Archives: March 25, 2014

Thoughts on Moderation

GoogleCommuntiy

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.

Setting Goals:

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.

Pros:

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.

 Cons:

 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.

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Screenshot from Hootsuite

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.

Takeaways:

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.

Librarians and the Community Management Profession

The life of a library is their community.

In David Lankes book The Atlas of New Librarianship he believes “the mission of librarians is to improve society though facilitating knowledge creation in their communities,” (p.83). His book argues that knowledge is created through conversation that is fostered by librarians and it’s the librarian’s job to facilitate for their community, inspire participation within the community, and calls librarians into action to advocate for their libraries to their community.

Oliver Blanchard writes in his book, Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization that a community managers, “…four principal function [are]: representing an organization in online forums, being the voice of ‘the community’ inside the organizations, mediating disputes in online forums, and helping manage the development, publishing, and curating of the organization’s digital content,” (p.137).

On the surface, librarianship and community management do not seem to have much in common.  Yes, both involve a community but librarianship is said to be a dying profession while community management is a new one. However, after interviewing Meg Knodl I found the role of a community manager can align itself with librarian and help the profession move forward.  Meg is currently the community manager for Hennepin County in Minnesota.  She posts for the Hennepin County twitter and Facebook accounts as well as coordinates with other department’s social media.  However, Meg started off as a community manager for a library.

In the interview Meg discussed ways of how community management and librarianship work well together.  One point she makes is a community manager has to be able to advocate and cheer for whatever brand or organization they work for.  A librarian needs to fight for their library not only for their own benefit but for their community and for society.  The tools and theories used by community managers are a perfect fit for librarians.  The use of social media to get messages to the community and to build relationships is important.  Community managers are there to connect people with others who have common interests and librarians can facilitate in the same way.

What works best within a community should be determined by the community. This idea fits both with a librarian’s job and a community manager’s job.  Meg said a community manager has to be aware of what types of platforms their community is willing to participate in.  The same is true with librarians.  They have to create programs their community wants.  For both profession it does not need to be online. For example Meg mentioned literacy programs for a library and capturing marriage photos for the Hennepin County community.  Both examples show how each profession brings together the community.

The community is what makes a library special.  Librarians have always been community managers and worked for and with their community.  Librarianship does not have to be a dying profession. One of the ways to insure this does not happen is to incorporate the modern techniques of the community manger profession to what librarians have already been doing.

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