Author Archive for Alexis Madison

Moderation Week: My Chance in the Big Leagues

This past week, I was tasked with the assignment of being the #CMGRclass moderator. My job was to introduce new content to the class that would help us further discuss the topics we’ve been reading throughout. This week’s topic was listening and planning. Each member of our class has had a different experience with social media and community management both on a personal and professional level. My main goal was to not only create a discussion about the topic at hand but to also allow people to reflect on their experiences and teach everyone else about some new practices that we may not have heard of before. Once I had my goal set, I could finally start my moderating journey. While there are many things that a moderator is in charge of, three of the most important are the introduction of content, engaging with the community, and monitoring, not dominating, the conversation.

listening

Image via Flickr.

Finding Content

On my quest to find the perfect content, I tried to find articles that were informative, yet open ended. I wanted people to have the opportunity discuss some of the topics further without feeling like the article was right above all else. Each article explained a different practice used by community managers in either the listening or planning phase. In my opinion, each article brought up points that not only tied to this week’s topic but also tied into our previous lessons on community management vs. social media management and content curation.

What I learned: Just sharing any piece of content with your community is not worth much if it doesn’t relate to the topic of conversation at hand. Learn to find information that really matters, share it, and wait for the feedback.

Asking Questions

One of the golden rules when moderating and interacting with a company is to ask questions that will build on the current discussion and allow it to really prosper. While I did think that having the information from each article under my belt gave me a good starting point of discussion, I would have liked to have had more information in order to ask better questions. I was lucky enough to have community members who introduced everyone, including myself, who introduced new ideas and were able to keep the conversation going.

What I learned: You will never have enough questions going until the end of time and this is where your community’s engagement can work in your favor. In the end, it’s not about the quantity of questions, but the quality of each question.

Domination vs. Conversation

I am naturally a very talkative person. While I do consider myself to be an extroverted introvert, I can talk for hours about anything; especially if it’s something that I’m truly interested. One of the areas that I had a struggle with in the beginning was the difference between domination and conversation. Because I am so used to overtaking a conversation, I had to learn quickly that this type of verbal takeover is not conducive to fostering a good community. The members of the class didn’t sign up to hear me voice all of my opinions. They joined to really discuss different ideas and learn from one another. Rather than posting a piece of content and adding my comments, I would try to pose a question and like people’s comments as a way of continuing my engagement and not overtaking the entire experience.

What I’ve learned: When you dominate a conversation, it’s like you’re having it with yourself. Give your community the opportunity to really speak up engage with them without overwhelming them.

Takeaways

This experience taught me so many interesting things about the life of a community manager. In order to truly be successful, you must remember that it’s not always give and take. This type of black and white interaction can turn your community into one of the most boring situations in the world. However, if you pose a few questions and give the community time to actually engage using social media, you will see the transformation immediately. All in all, the overall experience was great and while I was nervous the entire time, I enjoyed taking that role within a community. Hopefully that won’t be the last time I’m in that role.

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.

Social Media Manager vs. Community Manager – What’s the Difference?

Inside-the-mind-of-a-community-managerWith Community Manager Day (#CMAD) now in the past and the countdown for its 5th birthday is officially underway, I have come across an interesting yet important question that has not really been addressed. Community Manager Day is used to celebrate the achievements and progress made by individuals who make it their goal to foster and engage a digital community. The big question that comes to mind is what is the difference between a community manager and a social media manager? The two terms seem to overlap since both positions deal with the same communication medium, but there are some definite differences between the two positions. As stated in this article published by The CR Blog, when answering this question, the first thing you must look at is the difference between the first part of each title: ‘social media’ and a ‘community’.

When talking about ‘social media’:

  • The network around each set of content is not as closely linked to each other
  • The content released is not typically used to bring the network closer together but rather just to add to the current social conversation being had
  • Comments made on content are not used to start a conversation

When talking about ‘community’:

  • Members of a community are actively engaged and interact with each other consistently
  • There is a common purpose that is acknowledged by all community members
  • Content is used to spark a conversation and engagement from community members

BONUS: There is a strong emphasis put on relationships and authentic connections rather than followers

Low Complexity Markets

The major difference between these two is the motivation behind the work that they do and the effects that it has on the content they produce. Social media managers produce content for simplistic networks. “In low complexity markets and use cases, the focus is on social media because the relationships don’t need to be deep.”

This is the type of market where the content isn’t used to connect people to each other, but rather to provide an infrastructure to connect people to a brand.  While there is a sense of familiarity established with the brand, creating a tight knit network doesn’t matter as much as profiting off of a product.

This is where social media comes in handy. A social media manager can produce content that will highlight your brands best qualities by publishing UGC (user generated content) and responding to followers talking about your brand.

High Complexity Markets

Managing a community involves complete engagement within a high complexity market. This is the type of market in which services, products, and users are completely intertwined. All interactions circle around one common idea or purpose which a community manager must always be aware of.

Within these markets, a true community is formed around the content that is shared. These people not only follow each other’s content, but they share ideas and information with the goal of building meaningful relationships. Through these relationships, users can continue to explore their interests knowing that the content they are receiving comes from liked minded individuals

Using well developed communication and listening skills, a community manager sets the tone for these relationships while letting them form organically; providing support and guidance along the way.

All in all, these two roles are very different and yet vital in their own ways. If I had to summarize it in one phrase, I wound say that a social media manager will take good care of your brand and your following but a community manager will take great care of your community and those within it.