Author Archive for Branden Birmingham

Community Manager Panel

Our latest panel featured many great professional Community Managers. The panel featured Community Managers from Cycle to Survive,  Google Local NYC, Moz, and Klout.

Each Community Manager stated that they wear many different hats. This is something that has been talked about throughout the course. Most of the Community Managers deal with social media, clients, PR and educating. The panelists talked a lot about their experiences and how they got to where they are today. The panelists had many different paths and at first networked to get where they are today.

This panel had a focus on how to become a community manager and how they handle a busy work life. Time management is a skill that all Community Managers should possess. Each panelist stated that they wear multiple hats so they need to schedule tasks so that they are able to give their all on tasks.With time management you need to prepare for the future in case something were to happen, as your 

employees need to know how to help with your tasks in an emergency. Schedule out resources and projects as you can’t work 24/7.

Each of the panelists were asked about the skills that a community manager should possess. This was a great topic for discussion as most of these skills are what makes people unique. Some of the most talked about skills were empathy, decision making, recieving

feedback, and having a willingness to learn. An individual should be empathetic by understanding the feelings of your audience.

 A Community Manager must be good at decision making and be quick on their feet. While having many job duties is a good thing, an individual should not question a decision as it slows down process. One of the panelists mentioned that you need to take risks but be smart about it. By taking risks he was able to better his community. A Community Manager should have a willingness to learn. You will never know everything; and nothing is ever the same. Learning on the job and making mistakes is extremely common.

This panel was really beneficial because I got to hear first hand about the characteristics of a good Community Manager. This is something that I would read about online, but actually hearing people in the industry speak about their experiences was what is inspiring me to develop the skills necessary to hopefully one day become a successful Community Manager. 

Can annoying your community ruin your brand?

This weeks reading had to do with how you should reach out to users individually to build relationships with them. Facebook and Twitter are great tools for managing communities and reaching out to your users. effective outreach is the key to getting people involved. I know I personally get a numerous amount of Direct Messages on Twitter, and even private Facebook Messages. I find these to be highly annoying which is why I never respond or click on what any of the messages say. This photo to the right is one of the Direct Messages that I received today, I know I’m not going to like their Facebook page just because of this annoyance.Screenshot 2013-11-04 18.09.28


Being personal really means reaching out to a client in a way that is not spamming them. Many clients feel good when you send them messages with their name, letting them know that they are more than a like or follower, and that you are there for them. This is what being personal is; not sending out constant links and typical form letters like some companies think.

Many communities have issues with being social. Some think that being social means posting links to new products, and sending those dreaded spam emails or letters. That is not even close to the definition of social, which is reaching out and getting to know your clients and community.

Screenshot 2013-11-04 18.38.52


One company that does a great job at being social and personal is Verizon Wireless. Any time I have an issue with my phone I will go on Twitter and tweet my issue to them. Usually they will reply back extremely quickly with a friendly message and a request that y

ou Direct Message them your name and phone number so they can call and help you out. Sometimes they will also ask you what the issue is and try to solve it through Twitter as a way of trying to help out multiple customers. They are being personal by trying to be personal with a quick reply; and are asking you to Direct Message them. Even though, Verizon Wireless asks for me to Direct Message them I look at it as a positive thing and don’t hate the brand for them doing that.

Verizon Wireless is also great at being social by reaching out to their clients. I remember one time I had tweeted that “I got a new Droid #DroidUser #VZW”. They saw that I used their hash tag and reach

ed out to me on twitter saying enjoy the new phone and if I had any questions to just ask away. This is good service where Verizon Wireless is not annoying their customers or destroying their online brand.

How Do I Create a Brand New Community?

Many users today see a thriving constantly changing community where there is a generous amount of activity. Not many users see what a community was like when it started out. This week’s reading deals with How to Build a Community which is something extremely important to me as I am personally building a community for a program at my office.

Where do I start?

The article gives the secret of “one person at a time.” I have to agree with this because of the fact that as I am working to create and build my community it wasn’t successful overnight. I had to build my community user by user where I had to start with a lot of outreach within the specific program.

How do I develop a Social Media Strategy?

The article gives 3 tips to creating a strategy; calling your users, invite them to a private Facebook group; and help them get involved with discussion.

I like to email or instant message my users to show them that they matter. Instead of using a private Facebook group I had held many “community working groups” where I would ask some of my most influential early users what they wanted to see and how I could further build the community. I love to get my users engaged as it not only benefits them, but it also benefits me. I will post on a discussion board major topics to generate discussion and my users will respond to create conversation.

Where do I continue from here?

This is a question that a lot of Community Managers are constantly asking, even I sometimes ask myself this. Strategy is the most important thing while managing a community if your strategy is horrible your community will be horribly effected. Having a poor strategy can not only cause you to lose users, it will cost you many new ones. If your strategy isn’t up to par try to figure out why. The best thing I did is meet with a few staff members, and users that are constantly on the community. Working Groups have been the most beneficial by far as they have kept me constantly up to date on the state of my strategy. It is okay to update your strategy to keep up with changes within your industry but implement changes at a slow rate, if too many are implemented quickly it can have a negative effect where it will take users longer to adapt.

MRY, JetBlue, and LiveFyre all in One Place

MRY, JetBlue, and LiveFyre had community managers present a panel to the class on October 15th. Each of these companies are in different segments in the professional world. They each use social media to reach out to clients and their customers that are at the forefront of creating online advertising and social media campaigns. Each of the presenters mentioned that they “fell” into their space as there really was’t a “social media” roll before.

LiveFyre had mentioned that they think there will always be a blend of employees but now the jobs are a lot more defined; because of specialization. According to Jet Blue its not about what education or specialization you have, but what resources you can offer.


MRY has a distribution team that deals with paid, earned, experiential and owned analytics. The community managers are daily monitors; but also creatists.The CM works with creative, strategic, legal, and analytics team to be sure that the posts are to company standards, and effective



JetBlue has three teams to act as a checks and balance. Public Communications, Marketing, and customer support. The customer support team is 24/7 who monitors every interaction/mention that is on social networks. They look at all of the information to see how to make operational changes to make a better customer experience. Customer Insight is also a major team within customer support; they take surveys and measure analytics that they use to look at strategy with their customer interaction. There are about 27 people who work on the customer insight team managing the thousands of mentions per day, phone calls, and emails from customers. The mentions that JetBlue gets are mostly from customers in real time; allowing them to be proactive and change a situation before it begins.


LiveFyre has a team within marketing that deals with its customers. They are the ones who use and manage the social media to provide support to the free and enterprise users. LiveFyre uses HootSuite to see where issues are happening and use their customer support team to help figure out a solution. The strategy team has 3 people who create engagements for their customers to interact and share ideas. Some of the customers of LiveFyre are Community Managers who use LiveFyre software and interfaces. The current VP of LiveFyre was the first community manager, who they hired before engineers. This allowed them to get ahead on figuring out where they wanted to improve online discussions. As they have grown the whole support team is managing the enterprise accounts while a few people from different departments work with the free users.

What are factors in social media analytics?

Today social media analytics are measured in a variety of ways for each different tool. Users generally think that analytics are just metrics, but they are so much more. When measuring analytics users and professionals should look at Strategy, Metrics, Organization, and Technology. By looking at each of these factors you will be able to determine if you are posting information that is effective and that your clients or users want to see. This should be a main goal within your company as social media can be a huge revenue generator.

Screenshot 2013-10-14 18.13.08Strategy is key for determining if you are meeting your companies goals while posting effectively online. One great way to make sure that your strategy goes as planned is to plan for the present and the future by looking at key objectives, your companies mission and vision statements should be studied closely when determining how to post and communicate with clients effectively. By developing a good strategy starting out will help in the future as little updating will be needed on how to interact with clients. If a poor strategy is developed you will have a hard time determining the most appropriate way of outreach.

Metrics are used to measure how effective your campaign is in interactions, and outreach. Metrics are closely nit with your strategy. If your strategy is planned out poorly then your metrics will reflect that. A company can measure many different elements of strategy to generate metrics such as the number of posts, interactions, mentions, tags etc. Using tools such as backtweets are some of the most effective ways of measuring some of these analytics. By developing an effective plan you can determine how your company is doing with its presence and you can make changes if necessary.

Organization is one of the most important factors when it comes to social media analytics. It is best that a company representitave investigates resources, employee expertise, and employee involvement before developing a strategy. Today many companies have problems with this as they don’t have adequately trained employees who know how to represent a brand. This costs companies a lot of money each year if they mess up when dealing with their reputation online, thus having at least one or more trained employees is key.

Technology and how you use it is key to representing your company. With adequate resources and employee training using devices such as iPhones and iPads with software such as hootsuite or TweetChat it makes it easier to manage your presence at one time. Employees are able to manage all tweets sent to a company Twitter handle, or even hashtags and try to effectively address any complements or concerns.

Is a Social Media Manager the same as a Community Manager?

Not too many people realize that a Community Manager is different from a Social Media Manager. Many people think that they are the same thing due to the fact that Facebook or Twitter can be communities and people that run them are managing them. The two differences amaze a lot of people and if you do not take a class in Community Management then you are not expected to know what the differences are.

A Social Media Manager according to “individual in an organization trusted with monitoring, contributing to, filtering, measuring and otherwise guiding the social media presence of a brand, product, individual or corporation.” Generally, a Social Media Manager is somebody that has different experience in business, focusing in PR and Marketing. This is the person that makes a good impression about a product or service through the use of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. They also try to encourage their audience to purchase or discuss a product.

Community Managers are a little bit different, they are the ones that are managing relationships not only with their customers but their brands. This person has a background in development, and marketing. A Community Manager generally will oversee a Social Media Manager to see that things are running smoothly while running a general interest community of their own. 

After looking at the article “Social Media Manager vs. Online Community Manager: Same or Different?” I now see why people generally have a hard time being able to tell the difference between the two. Above, I did state the  “professional” definitions, but I would say that a Social Media Manager deals with representing a good or service through social media outlets, while a Community Manager builds the relationships necessary to the growth of the company and groups audience.

Today many “online managers” will play both roles of a Community and Social Media Manager as many companies and organizations find that it is not a necessity to spend a lot of money to hire multiple people to do tasks that almost go hand in hand. I know someone that works for a major organization (to remain un-named at their request) whose title is Social Community Manager. He does everything from customer outreach and product promotion to answering customers questions about specific products or services. As a one person operation it is tough to do all of these tasks at once where you should really control your Social Media presence as a team.

My Week as a Moderator

I went a whole week as a Moderator for #CMGRClass. I learned a lot about how to effectively manage a community and about how you must be on top of your community to make sure things are running smoothly. As a Moderator I felt the biggest lesson learned was time management. This was a good lesson in how to balance my time between working, school, and managing the G+ community for an entire week.

One of the most important articles that I posted was about how to be a successful community manager. This article was really effective as it had tips about the 12 most common things to do while running a community. I personally think that making connections and establishing relationships is key to success. Building relationships is what will keep your community going and your analytics will impress your manager.


During the week that I was Moderator there was a great article titled How to Craft a Blog Post.  The article had 12 points from an experienced blogger about issues he had ran into when blogging. This article had a decent amount of discussion about what the most effective key point was. I believed that the most important point was quality control, where even one small mistake can effect your credibility in your readers eyes. One comment that stuck out to me was from iSchool Professor Kelly Lux, that “The title is SO important!”. Professor Lux brought up a great point that the most traffic on blogs comes from titles that are “keyword rich, or are those that answer ask or answer a Q”.

Overall, I think that my week as a moderator went well. There was a lot of great participation from the students of #CMGRClass. Each had their own opinions which helped keep the conversation flowing.  Using Google + for moderation was a great tool as it helped me keep track of who responded to my posts. I also liked the fact that Google + allowed me to almost instantly push a post to my audience within seconds.

I ran into issues with time management during my week of moderating. Like everybody says “there is not enough time in the day”. I tried to balance work, school, and moderating, this was extremely difficult to balance and taught me a lesson on how to balance my time evenly. I learned that moderating and being a successful Community Manager is harder than it looks, and it takes a lot of experience.


Online Community History

Today online communities as we know it has became a huge way of communicating with others. In the 1970s when the Internet was created by ARPAnet E-Mail was created. Although, basic E-Mail allowed for user interaction as one could send and recieve messages. “Message Boards” were soon built into email or websites allowing for others to create a string of content that others can respond to. Message boards are quite common even today allowing for a user to interact with others on one topic. Interactions are in the form of message strings that other users are also able to see.

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) developed in 1988 by Jarkko Okarinen was one of the early Instant Messengers. Popular in the 90’s Instant Messaging started to occur. Both users had to be online; and could send each other short messages instantly. This later emerged into AOL Instant Messenger, and Windows Live Messenger.

Today online communities are built off of the innovations that we had in the past. Users that are participating in communities have increased steadily in recent years. Back in a 2001 Pew Internet & American Life Project report, 84% of all Internet users indicated that they contacted an online community and 79% identified at least one group with which they maintained regular online contact. Due to user increases many communities have sprung up in recent years that may relate to user interest, health, shopping and even travel.

Sites like TripAdvisor are an example of an online community where users are able to post photos, comments, and links about a particular place. People who do post about their experiences get responses from a manager or other appointed user. There are also interest communities such as WebMD a community relating to health and wellness. Users are able to get health advice, and learn about news and other resources available to them.

Facebook and Twitter today are two types of platforms that allow users to customize a profile and communicate with others. Facebook has incorporated many great features that were popular in the past into its site. Users can instant message; email and make their Facebook unique with a profile picture (avatar).Twitter allows for an avatar and almost encompasses a forum feature but instead lets users write a post on a news feed of 120 characters.

Online communities today would be drastically different if it were not for many of the previous developments on the web with features such as email, forums, and instant messaging.

Blogging 101

This weeks reading had to do with how to write an effective blog post; and how to be a great community manager. The reading had a list of ten things that a Community Manager needs to follow to write a successful blog post and become a good community manager. This week I am moderator for Google+ Community and the #CMGRClass Twitter; and discussion has been developed off of these 10 items. Below I will talk about some discussion of some points that students raised:

Quality Control

The topic of quality control was talked about the most where a Community Manager should make sure there are no errors in information, or spelling as it makes the post look less professional. This is not only a blogging skill but a life skill that you will run into in the corporate sector.

Making Your Posts Matter

As a Community Manager you need to be sure you are able to get your point across to your readers. If your post has weak ideas without information to back up your points your viewers will possibly think that reading your blog is a true waste of time. A post with no point or purpose makes you look less credible and steers your audience away from you. Make sure your post is on point and does not fade away from the main topic. This does usually happen when a blogger is discussing many points and posts mainly about a key point instead of the main topic itself. 

Timing is Everything 

You want to make sure you have your post submitted for your viewers to read in a timely fashion as news becomes old quickly. With social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook events go viral quickly so blogging in a timely fashion is key to making sure you are able to “break” the news to your readers. A post about Apple’s new iPhone release is key to get out to viewers on the release day, and not a week or two later.

How you blog as a Community Manager will make you or break you. As a Community Manager you need to know the basics of Blogging 101 to be a success. Getting your audience to follow and trust you will make you stand out as a successful Community Manager. The points above are the most crucial ones to making your posts successful; and if they are not followed you most likely will not be taken seriously.