Author Archive for Anne Marie Suchanek

Best Scheduling Practices For Community Managers

Running a community is no easy task, especially when several social media networks are involved. Community management is demanding, and it’s important to meet the needs of community members while also posting relevant content for members to discuss. Because of the various activities that a community manager must keep track of, it’s important to know how to effectively use a calendar.

Author Richard Millington of Buzzing Communities offers the following tips:

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Calendars can get messy! Make sure to use a system that works best for your community

1. Don’t forget about offline content! Although lots of information is online, don’t forget to stay in touch with what’s happening around you physically.  Millington points out that “you can look at both online and offline content produced within the sector to identify…popular categories.”

2. Plan out your weeks – Millington discusses how different categories of news should be posted daily while certain categories of posts can be reused every week. This variation is okay, as long as it is planned out accordingly. Using a calendar to figure out which content should be posted on certain days of the week is helpful when determining to push content.

3. Don’t forget about subcategories – It’s not enough to put that you’re going to talk about something as generic as “news” on a particular day. Millington emphasizes the importance of subcategories, and to be specific when defining posted content. Eliminating ambiguity helps define clearer goals for you and your team.

Although Millington’s tips are helpful, he fails to mention different methods of keeping track of all these tasks. Some helpful tools to keep you in check with all of these tools include:

1. Google Calendar – If you’re an avid fan of Google, have a Gmail account, or like color coded calendars, Google Calendar is a great way to keep track of different schedules. Your calendar can also sync up with your phone which allows you to view and modify your schedule while on the go.

2. Physical Wall Calendar – Lots of companies like to see things written on walls rather than on small computer screens. If you have a lot of space in your office, utilizing the space on a whiteboard can allow you to write all over your schedule, which is something you can’t necessarily do in a digital environment. If you have a wall that you want converted into a large whiteboard space, that can be easier to create than you think!

3. Wiggio – Wiggio is an online calendar that allows you to create events that can also sync with your other calendars. With SMS alerts that keep you on track, you won’t have to worry about what you need to do at each point throughout the day. The calendars can also be viewed by certain groups, which can be incredibly helpful for when you are working with a large team.

Regardless of how you schedule your calendars or the medium in which you choose to update it, it is important to stay organized and stay up to date with the content that needs to be managed within a community. Using the tools and techniques above, you can be well on your way to effectively managing a community!

How do you keep track of scheduling within your community? Do you have other tips or advice? Let us know in the comments below! 

How To Get A Job As A Community Manager

“We’re in the age of social media.” How many times have you heard that before? It’s true! We are immersed in a world where social media has become part of our lives. The first thing some people do in the morning is check their phone and check their social media. It’s also the last thing some people do before they go to bed at night. Such a high dependence on social media has led to an increase in the need for a community manager, or someone to cultivate communities around products, brands, and services. When looking for a job as a community manager, it’s important to know what to look out for.

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 6.12.43 PMThe Job Description

In an article by Erin Bury, the typical job responsibilities of a community manager are listed. They include content creation, social media marketing, customer relations, and gathering analytics. A common misconception of community managers is that they sit on Facebook and Twitter all day and read tweets. It’s important to note that community managers do much more than that. Creating strategies, analyzing data, and connecting with the right people is all part of the job description.

What They’re Looking For

In addition to having the skills, it’s also important that you have the right attitude and work ethic for the community management position. Hiring managers and recruiters will be looking to make sure that you fit the part. According to Bury, it’s also important to have an outgoing personality, writing skills, social media experience, and an interest in the industry. When looking to work for a certain brand, it’s important to research that company and make sure you have what they’re looking for. Lots of companies will often have job descriptions on their website, making them easily accessible to those who are interested.

What Else?

Bury does a great job of outlining the different skills necessary to be a good community manager. In her post, she also shares examples of community management job descriptions. While Bury does a great job of covering all the bases of looking for a community management job, it’s also important to remember that a job/brand has to fit your personality too. While a company can list what they’re looking for in a community manager, it’s also important that you consider what you’re looking for in a company. Different brands have different tones and work styles. Make sure you find something that fits in well with you, too!

 

 

 

Advice for Future Community Managers

On November 19th, our community management class was able to listen in on another panel of community manager experts. This week’s panel consisted of Lea Marino from Cycle For SurvivalTopher Ziobro of Google Local NYC, Jennifer Lopez from Moz, and Sahana Ullagaddi of Klout. Each individual was able to offer different pieces of advice to our class, especially ones who were looking to work as a community manager after graduation. While each panelist was able to add on or agree with what other panelists were saying, each person was able to contribute their own piece of advice based on their own experiences.

Jen Lopez encouraged the ability to plan ahead. Being able to hear information and quickly turn it into something meaningful is an incredible skill. Asking yourself questions like “Is this a big deal?” allows community managers to make things happen. Good community managers know what to do with information they’re given – quickly. If community managers don’t know the answer, they should know who does. Being able to think quickly and think on your feet is invaluable.

Lea Marino stressed the importance of empathy. Although it’s not necessarily something that  can be taught, it’s important to know how to express empathy through digital channels. It’s not enough to through in an emoticon; it’s important to be able to understand what is being said behind those words and smiles. Connecting with people on a deeper level is important. It enhances your communication skills, which are so important to this field.

Sahanna Ullagaddi discussed the importance of wanting to learn. Many people don’t know what they want when they start working in the community management field, so being able to absorb lots of different types of information is important. Being able to hear information and then follow up can make you a great community manager. While learning, it’s also important to share what you think. Having your own voice can make you your own person, and an even better manager.

Topher shares his advice with the class via Google + Hangout

Topher shares his advice with the class via Google + Hangout

Topher Ziobro talked about the importance of energy. Your energy will allow you to take on challenges and express your excitement for something. Social channels need to be energetic throughout the day, and so do you. Projects may run late into the night, and you might have to too! It’s important to keep up that energy and remember that social media doesn’t necessarily end at 5pm everyday.

All of the different pieces of advice that the panelists contributed allowed each member of our class to think about what skills are necessary to be a community manger. Each community manager was able to contribute something different to the table, and all of their advice was incredibly valuable!

Do you have anything to add? Do you disagree with anything? Let us know in the comments below! 

How To Connect With Your Digital Audience

It is no longer enough to connect with people in a physical realm. Although the value of making connections in person cannot be undermined, building relationships people often happens online. It is through social media that brands and business can connect people based on a common passion or interest. Community managers for these brands have emerged to combat new problems: captivate an audience and keep them coming back for more. These new digital challenges certainly comes with obstacles. Blogger Britt Michaelian has written a piece about ways in which strong social brands connect with their audience, and how to best keep users engaged.

Give Them What They Want

One of the things that Michaelian highlights in her piece is to remember that “strong social brands are givers.” The society that we have grown accustomed to floods us with information. Thus, social media brands must continue to give to their community. Learning how to give back socially can make a brand stand out from its competition.

Michaelian participates in a panel at UCLA about social media

Michaelian participates in a panel at UCLA about social media

How Do You Do That?

Michaelian shares her tips for how to be a socially giving brand. Some of these tips include:

  • Engaging in meaningful conversations with followers on a consistent basis – Don’t tweet just to tweet. Make sure that posts are meaningful.
  • Share, RT, comment and like content on the profiles of their supporters – It’s important to encourage a positive vibe within a community. Share that support.
  • Keep their social exchanges positive and uplifting – No one likes to hear bad news. Make sure you’re a voice that people want to hear.
  • Realize that without their audience, their message would not be heard, so they express and show gratitude often – Community managers can’t be community managers without a community. Be thankful for the people who interact with your brand.

Be Realistic

The tips that Michaelian provides in her article are all uplifting and positive. While it is important to constantly have a positive attitude online, it is also important to be realistic. Online, it’s crucial to remain transparent and be as human as possible. This allows people to feel more comfortable and connected with a brand. It’s important to remember that the news brands have to share will not always be positive. Community managers should be able to show a range of emotions in order to better connect with the news that they are trying to share. Although Michaelian shares tips such as admitting when you’ve made a mistake, many of the tips she leaves discuss remaining happy and positive. Your community will appreciate if they feel like they are talking to a real person at the other end of the computer screen rather than someone who is always happy go lucky. Remember to be real!

How else do you connect with your audience online? Share in the comments below! 

Best Practices For Handling Social Media During A Crisis

In our increasingly digital world, it’s undeniable that social media has grown as a primary method of sharing information, especially during a time of crisis. Whether it’s citizen journalists sharing pictures taken through their mobile devices or major new sources live tweeting during disastrous moments, social media is a common tool that all people use. The use of social media to share information during such times has been debated heavily. In fact, I’ve personally written an article or two about the topic. The ways in which social media is used during a crisis must be handled in a particular manner, and certain policies should be put in place to make sure that communication is handled professionally and accurately.

Quick Tips

Taken from Whaling's presentation, the chart shows the increased relevancy of social media to communicate information

Taken from Whaling’s presentation, the chart shows the increased relevancy of social media to communicate information

As Heather Whaling (founder of Gebben Communication) simply says it in a presentation about crisis communication, “social media is the new phone. You can’t ignore it.” Whaling is right. Social media is constantly buzzing, and the thoughts shared by people must be addressed. In order to handle this effectively during a crisis, Whaling offers some quick tips

  • “If you’re not quick, you’re not relevant.” – Social media doesn’t stop. It’s important to be timely with the information you share and respond in real time. Otherwise, you could be deemed insufficient by your community.
  • Avoid wasting time in a crisis by creating a clear process in advance – Every company should have a process that they follow during a crisis. By having this type of methodology set prior to a disaster occurring, people can follow protocol in order to effectively handle the situation.
  • Monitor thoughts shared online – Having a set of search queries to follow allow you to follow certain topics that people are discussing. By searching keywords or hashtags, responses to different conversations can be followed.
  • Respond where the relevant conversations occur – It can be impossible to respond to every single tweet or comment that someone has about a disaster. Make sure to respond when it’s appropriate and when it will have the most lasting effect. It’s important to make efficient use of your time.

Other Advice

One of the most important things that the tips above do not cover is to make sure that you’re sharing the right information. The accessibility of social media and the ease at which it is to use can be as dangerous and it is advantageous. The ability to share facts quickly makes social media a phenomenal tool. However, the ability for false rumors to quickly spread makes it as dangerous as it is advantageous. Before sharing any information online, make sure that is has been confirmed. Sharing rumors won’t allow you to build yourself as a credible source.  

Conclusion

While companies and brands will have different policies regarding social media during a crisis, it is important to follow certain guidelines when handling social media accounts. Having a plan ready, allowing yourself to focus in on certain conversations, and making the most of your time are all essential to effectively using social media during a crisis.

Do you have any other advice for how to use social media in a crisis? Share in the comments below! 

The Best Way To Build A Community

One of the most rewarding aspects of being a community manager can be knowing that you helped to create a strong and engaged community. However, it can be incredibly difficult to build such a highly engaged community. While a brand, product, or service may have a lot of followers or subscribers, it’s important to build a community with members that are proud to be a part of that membership. Author Dino Dogan addresses this issue in an article he wrote entitled “How To Build a Community of Fanatics,” where he provides step-by-step instructions to build a community with avid users.

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Some advice from Dogan’s article

The Breakdown 

By breaking down the process into six steps, building a community instantly becomes more of a progressive process. Intention, knowing your audience, being human, customer service, having fun, and positioning are all things that Dogan considers fundamentals to building a strong community. By providing evidence and examples behind why each of these steps is so critical, Dogan is able to build up credibility and effectively support his claims. However, Dogan concludes his article by telling the reader he’s “left out one enormously important component from this list.” He allows readers to share their opinions and ideas about a potential seventh step.

The Possibilities

The lack of comments on the article still leave present readers wondering what that missing ingredient is. It seems as though Dogan did a thorough job of outlining the different steps necessary to build a community, so his missing piece of advice could be hard to determine for some. However, based on our readings and panelist advice throughout a semester of #cmgrclass, it seems that Dogan really forgot to mention the importance of building relationships, which is an essential part of community management.

The Importance of Community Management

The biggest part of community management is making a community. Although Dogan discusses how to get people initially attracted to the information, he doesn’t discuss how to get them to stay nearly enough. Community managers are not only supposed to understand their audience (as mentioned in the article), but they are also supposed to cultivate relationships between them. Community managers should understand the different dynamics of a community and use that to leverage different relationships. A community isn’t a community unless people participate and talk to one another. While the advice Dogan writes in his article is all valuable and valid, it’s important to not lose sight of what a community should actually be.

Do you have any other advice for the best way to build a community? Let us know in the comments below! 

Lessons Learned From a Panel of Community Experts

On October 15th, our community management class was able to conduct a Google Hangout with three people directly immersed in the world of community management and social media. Nick Cicero of LivefyreDavid Yarus from MRY, and Morgan Johnston from JetBlue were able to share aspects of their personal and professional experiences. Each of the social media savvy experts were able to contribute different pieces of valuable advice to the class and help extend our learning experiences from classroom activities and discussions.

Morgan Johnston shares advice with the class

Morgan Johnston shares advice with the class

Push The Limit Morgan Johnston discussed people who come into the field who don’t necessarily understand the rules within an organization. Questions like “You mean I can’t get away with this? Why not? Why are we doing this?” pushes people to be a better community manager. It’s important to ask questions and find out why people are doing what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and how they’re doing it. Not only does it provide someone with knowledge, but it allows you to reevaluate policies that are being followed.

Social Is More Than Being Social Nick Cicero heavily discussed the involvement of social within different enterprise corporations. Community managers work with other departments such as marketing, public relations, and communications to ensure that the same information is consistently conveyed by the company. Because there will always be interplay between different departments., “you don’t have to be the hero even if you are the guardian.” Community managers hear what the community thinks and therefore feels a sense of ownership, but it’s important to remember that lots of departments that work together to promote the same idea. The different voices of these departments all have to shine through while wrangling many of the issues a company may face.

We Are All People On Either Side of The Screen Perhaps the most important piece of advice came from David Yarus, who reconnected social media back to the people and the more humanistic aspect of the job. He stressed that we were all humans on one side of the computer screen. He urged us to text people rather than send overly formal emails. People respond well when they’re treated as such. David said that remembering to be human gets you back real results.

Each of the panelists had different experiences that contributed to different advice that each student took away from the experience. All of the panelists spoke wondefully and I’m appreciative of the time they shared with us.

Do you agree with the advice above or have anything to add? Let us know in the comments below! 

Lessons Learned from Emily Egan, Mindshare’s Community Manager

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Emily Egan, the community manager of Mindshare. Located in New York City, Emily works to help different brands bring their social media presence to life. to In a  Google Hangout we had, Emily and I were able to talk about her different experiences she’s had as a community manger. Although we discussed different aspects of her job and how she deals with things such as evaluating metrics and creating a content calendar, the things that stuck with me the most were parts of her own experiences and her growth as a community manager.

Google Hangout with Emily

Google Hangout with Emily

Sometimes It’s Okay To Not Know

Before Emily got involved with social media, Emily barely knew how Twitter worked. Concepts such as retweets and modified tweets were completely foreign to her. By talking to friends and experimenting with different social outlets, Emily was able to learn about different aspects of social media and community management. She learned the difference between being active on social media personally and tweeting for a brand after being asked to take on social media at a restaurant. After meeting the right people and building up skills of her own, Emily was able to land a job at Vaynermedia working with social media. She has grown into a social media guru since then and now works at Mindshare managing social media for different brands.

Not Everything Is Worth Fighting For

When discussing how to handle negativity within a brand, Emily talked about picking and choosing battles. People often turn to social media to complain, and often times conflicts can be resolved with social media. However, not all people who complain need to be responded to. Emily shared that some tweets are better left ignored while some tweets can be responded to to resolve issues. The decision between engaging and ignoring can be reached based on compromise with a client. It’s important to know what to react to and how to react appropriately. This allows brands to pick and choose how they handle issues with clients.

Be Personable, But Speak Loudly 

The most important thing I took away from my discussion with Emily was that it’s important to be personable with a community but also speak to as many people at once as possible. Communities can get big quickly, but it’s important to keep a personable tone with people. You want to make it feel as though you’re specifically talking to them when you may actually be trying to reach hundreds or thousands of people. This personal touch can keep a community tight-knit and engaged.

I was happy to speak with Emily and relate what I’ve learned so far in class to things that she was discussing. Through her discussion of personal experiences and her job responsibilities, I was able to learn a lot about how community managers work day-to-day and confirm theories that our class has spent so much time studying. The things I learned from Emily were invaluable and I appreciate the lessons I was able to learn from her.

 

Breaking Down Social Media Metrics

The Scoop on Social Media Metrics 

The amount of information on the Internet is simply overwhelming. It can be difficult to perceive the statistical data that even one website can collect, which can make managing a website challenging. Thus, it’s important to consider metrics, or statistical tools that allow people to quantitatively measure different aspects of a website. Metrics allow managers to analyze strengths and weaknesses within their company. Knowing statistics such as which of your blog post has received the most views and how many retweets each tweet receives can help managers identify different areas of their company that need improvement.

Google Analytics is a site that allows users to track different information about site visitors

Google Analytics is a site that allows users to track different information about site visitors

A Categorized Solution

In an article on Simply Measured, 41 social media metrics are defined and outlined. Because the amount of information one can try can quickly become overwhelming, it’s immensely helpful to break them down into easily digestible pieces of information. Author Adam Schoenfeld breaks down metrics into different categories, including competitive analysis, customer service, content performance, and engagement. Each of these categories are broken down further into sub-categories which specifically mention things thats should be measured within a website.

Benefits of the breakdown

Schoenfeld’s breakdown allows users to see the different areas of social media metrics without feeling totally overwhelmed. As someone who currently works with content management system, staring at numbers can be very overwhelming, and sometimes it’s difficult to determine what it all means. Breaking down metrics individually is immensely helpful when trying to make sense of data. Furthermore, breaking down metrics into easily understandable pieces allows you to track progress within each area. By taking note of which numbers are increasing and declining, the progress of your website can be easily measured.

 

Still overwhelmed? 

Don’t sweat it. There’s a lot to measure, and trying to make sense of all that information can be confusing. Perhaps focusing on one category at a time will allow you to truly understand what the numbers in one area tell you before moving onto another. Or, pick one topic from each category and focus on those things rather than approaching all of those metrics as a whole. Mastering social media metrics takes time. Start small and work your way up! By breaking it down into smaller pieces, social media metrics can easily be mastered.

What other metrics do you look into regarding your site? Is there a better way to think about social media metrics? Share in the comments below! 

Social Media Manager vs. Community Manager: What’s The Difference?

Social media has become such an integrated part of our world that it almost expected that everyone knows how to use social media. However, there are professional roles designated for brands and companies that allow social media and community management to intertwine. The two roles, social media manager and community manager, often get confused between one another. However, there are distinct differences between the two that must be noted. In an article by Vanessa DiMauro, the differences between the two are shared. 

The Social Media Manager

According to DiMauro, a social media manager is someone who “operates from the edges of the company, managing brand recognition and reputation outside of the scope of the brand website.” By acting as someone who oversees the company rather than someone who is directly communicating with users, a social media manager can provide followers with an overview of the company while also marketing, managing public relations, and working with sales. As someone who has to coordinate with different departments so much, it is important that the social media manger is well informed about higher level aspects of the company.

The Community Manger

Conversely, the community manager “operates from deep within the company, managing customer relationships with a brand or product, and each other.” As opposed to a social media manager, a community manager is much more involved with the actual people who associate with a brand of project. It is important for a community manager to know the people who interact with a brand so they can make connections, share ideas among others, and connect people within a community when necessary. A strong aspect of being a community manager relates to allowing others to collaborate and relate to one another.

A chart DiMauro uses in her article to illustrate the differences between a community manager and a social media manager.

A chart DiMauro uses in her article to illustrate the differences between a community manager and a social media manager.

Do The Lines Overlap? 

In her article, DiMauro acknowledges that although the two roles do have different responsibilities, there is certainly some overlap. However, she tries to dissolve that confusion by creating a chart that outlines the differences between the two jobs. I cannot help but still feel that  distinguishing responsibilities between the two can be confusing. Although I can see that social media managers really manage the brand while community managers manage the people and relationships, I do sense that there is a sense of overlap between the two roles. Both positions utilize similar tools in order to accomplish their jobs: social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter allow both people to monitor the people that are interacting with their company. Both may also use similar analytical tools to monitor how their community is growing and who is interacting a brand. Although this information is used in different ways, both people work with these tools to efficiently do their jobs. The social media manager and the community manager may ultimately have different goals, but the overlap between their methodologies can certainly be confusing.

Do you agree there’s a difference between community manager and social media manager? Is there anything else to add? Share in the comments below!