Author Archive for Ben Glidden

Community Management: How to Get Hired

Land a job as a community manager! (photo via http://www.glassdoor.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/interview23.jpg)

The job of “community manager” hasn’t necessarily been defined before a few years ago, especially in the digital space. But students are flooding from colleges after graduation to potential employers in an effort to get hired as a community manager. But what are employers looking for? How can you prepare for your interview? Is this industry right for you?

Here are three skills/tips you need to get hired as a community manager:

1. Strong communications skills

This one seems obvious, but some people think that just because this job is “digital” but this job has plenty offline aspects as well. A community manager must be a strong writer, speaker and really understand people. A public relations background is always helpful, especially in time of crisis and dealing with the consumer. It’s a people business, so if you don’t like people then you probably shouldn’t be applying! The “management” aspect of the job also falls under this category. The best bosses and managers have employees that love them because they’re strong communicators and get their message across. We learn about the importance of transparency but you can’t be transparent unless you know how to get your message out there. The business is all about storytelling, which is why strong communications stills are so important.

2. Organized

Organization is key and your employer will be able to sense if you aren’t organized. If you aren’t organized you’ll probably be in way over your head in the business. A community manager deals with so much data and information. There are tons of numbers to analyze and make sense of and then apply to your strategy. One major aspect of community management is content curation. Bringing together a ton of different content from different platforms and making sense of it is another reason why community managers need to stay organized. Without good organizational skills, it would be hard to make sense of why you were curating the content and the message behind it.

3. Be a member of your community

This is the most important tip of all because if you aren’t a member of your community and truly engaged in it, you wont be successful as a community manager. You must be able to understand the community members and I don’t think that’s possible unless you’re a member of the community as a whole. So if you’re trying to get hired, don’t go into a job interview and have no idea about the company or community because you wont get hired. Research the community and start playing a role in it before heading into your interview. Show your employer that you care about the community, because if you can be a part of it, you can manage it.

Fore more great tips for prospective community managers, check out this article.

My Week as a Moderator

Screen Shot 2013-11-24 at 11.15.55 PMI took on the role of moderator this week for the second time and the experience was a little more eye opening as I was moderating alone this time rather than with a classmate. I was also in a unique position because there was no assigned reading so the class was able to spit ball a little more than usual about interesting topics. A major disadvantage, however, was the fact that I moderated at a very busy time for students and didn’t see the high levels of engagement that many see during other weeks, which made discussion difficult on some topics.

Which network is the RIGHT network?

Many community managers must deal with this question on a daily basis. What content is best for a given social network? As moderator, I found that no one was engaging on twitter for whatever reason, so I posted the majority of my content on Google+. But I was cross-posting some content to twitter and now that I think back, I’m realizing that those two audiences are exactly the same, so what’s the point of posting the same content on each? Maybe they’ll see it one place but not the other? I think different content does better on different platforms but it’s harder to tell what that is in this small scale example.

Successful Conversation

I was so proud of one of the conversations that developed during my week as moderator. It was surrounding the subject of a brand’s influence and if they had an ethical obligation to help out when tragedy hits. Of course, they don’t have any legal obligation, but what about special ethical one? Some argued that there’s no real ethical responsibility but it really helps their public image, while others argued that with influence comes responsibility. Social media managers, community managers and public relations professionals are really starting to have a voice in the overall mission and objectives of companies, so this is an important question to be asking ourselves.

A great career

One item of content that came up during the week was the Wall Street Journal’s list of best and worst jobs of the year. I asked the community who was interested in actual pursuing the position as a career someday. The fact that community manager ranks in the top 40 of the list is definitely an incentive. I think the line of work is so appealing because of the daily interaction with people, even though it’s digital. Social media is obviously a huge up and coming industry. Combining that with building interactive and engaging communities sounds like a fun line of work. The negatives are that it’s a 24/7 job. You never really get a break in this line of work because communities don’t rest. You always have a responsibility to always be sparking conversation when it’s dull. And most importantly, you need to be ready to respond in a time of crisis.

Community Management: The Intersection of People and Tech

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 3.16.19 PMPut a bunch of community managers in a room together and you’ll most likely hear conversation about a few different topics. But two things that come up more than most other subjects are technology and people. This is essentially what happened when #CMGRClass brought together four successful community management professionals in a Google Hangout on Tuesday. Through the different backgrounds of each person, I found one similarity, both have had interest in tech and people since their college days, which is what can get you into the field.

Community managers from Moz, Cycle for Survival, Klout and Google joined the class to talk about how they got to where they are today. For a student like me, this information is a great way for me to apply myself in hopes of one day becoming a community manager.

Moz

Moz started as an SEO consulting company and produces software and dabbles in analytics. Jen, a community manager on staff, works to educate its community about SEO, regardless of whether or not they pay for Moz services. Jen studied journalism in college and focused on public relations early on. She started in the technology field out of college as a web developer but she still had a passion for writing and talking to people. She came about Moz and started out as a technical consultant but found herself leading a lot of the training sessions, talking to clients and writing. What made Jen unique and perfect for the job of community manager was that she knew her community well. In fact, she was just like the people who were in her community. That was her most interesting point. Community managers are most successful when they themselves would like to be a part of their own community because they’re serving people just like themselves.

 

Cycle for Survival 

Cycle for survival is an indoor team cycling event that raises money for research of “rare cancer” diagnosis. 100% of every dollar raised goes to research. It’s a peer to peer fundraising model and Lea says her job as community manager is to just give the community what it needs to run a successful event. Lea graduated from Syracuse University with a public relations degree but really wasn’t happy with the work she was doing with her internships. She was working at a digital marketing company when she recommended that their business should get on Twitter. That’s when social media really became her focus. She was great with the people element as a PR major and was combining it with her love for tech to deliver the information people needed.

Klout

Klout is a digital influence tool that we’ve talked about a lot in the class so far. It measures how influential a user is using an algorithm that brings in statistics from social networks of the users choice, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or others. Sahana, the community manager, focuses on content marketing, social media management, public relations, product marketing, email marketing day-to-day during her job. But she also has been helping community members become more influential through education. She studied economics in college, and joined a management consulting firm but didn’t like it. She was really drawn to tech and is very passionate about people. She wanted to interact with them in an authentic way everyday. She started with social media at a startup and went from there.

Google

I don’t really have to explain what Google is. Topher, a community manager in New York for Google Local NYC, uses online interactions and in-person events to encourage people to explore and share. He started in sports marketing but wanted to pursue art. He moved to the city and organized meet ups with others interested, the offline form of a community. He worked at an art college in the admissions office and established social media accounts to draw in more people. He increased international applications though his use of tech and his interactions with people.

See any similarities? All four love tech and are great with people and are well on their ways to successful community management careers.

There’s No “I” in Team

#CMGRClass - 10/15 Panel

#CMGRClass – 10/15 Panel

After hearing from a few community management professionals it’s clear that no matter what kind of community you have, it takes a team to maintain it and it revolves around customer engagement. Three great examples of people who know a thing or two about community management are Morgan Johnston from JetBlue, David Yarus from MRY and Nick Cicero from LiveFyre. They all agreed that a community wouldn’t exist without a strategically created team behind it, and that transparency, engagement and treating humans like humans are keys to success. They also all come from different types of companies with different communities, but those core values stay the same throughout.

JetBlue:

Johnston said that the first principals of JetBlue were talk and engage with customers. It was a strategy that translated nicely to the social spaces. JetBlue is known for its engagement with customers, but with such a large audience, it takes a solid team to manage the thousands of mentions the social accounts get every day. Johnston said social has become everyones responsibilities. With educational programs teaching more social theory and with social becoming an important part of lives of millennials, everyone has that base knowledge of social media so everyone has to contribute to those responsibilities.

JetBlue’s operation is broken up into three teams: corporate communications, which handles the overall narrative, marketing, which tells brand stories and customer support, which handles the day-to-day engagement JetBlue is known for. There is also a group looking at customer insights. They examine all analytics, which allows the strategists to make adjustments as a brand.

Key point: It’s all about transparency. The customer should know why you make the decisions you make.

MRY:

Yarus said MRY thrives on brand ambassadors. The communities they manage are small and consist of influencers and thought leaders, which is different than JetBlue’s community. It all come down to knowing the community and what information will work will among them.

Yarus said distribution broken down into paid, owned, earned, experiential and analytics groups with a flat power structure that allows all members of community management to have an equal say. He noted that the community manager is the most vital piece of the puzzle as they are the eyes, ears and voice of the people.

Key point: “We’re all people.” Why does everything have to be so formal? Treat people like people for real results.

LiveFyre:

Cicero said LiveFyre’s community is made up of community managers, giving yet another interesting perspective on the field. It doesn’t matter if you have a background in digital, social or community building, you still need to understand how to communicate to be successful. Communication may seem basic, but it’s a tool many lack. It goes back to Yarus’ point about treating people like people. If you know how to communicate as a person, your community will respond.

Cicero said the marketing and customer service teams handle the community management. But LiveFyre didn’t hire a strategist until Cicero last December. He noted the importance of a strategist in determining overall voice and crisis management protocol. LiveFyre’s role is interesting because since their customers are community managers, they take on more of a mentorship role. But it all came back to being a team player and knowing how to work with these customers when they need help with their communities.

Key point:

 

Creating a Community with Downy

Downy sells fabric softener, dryer sheets and other products that will make your life softer and smell better. But Downy’s online communities haven’t always reflected that. According to 360i strategist Nicole Hering, who now works with the brand, she and her coworkers took over a “crummy situation” when 360i took over this past July.

Nicole took the reigns from Procter & Gamble, one of the largest consumer products companies in the world. According to Hering, years ago the size of the community was the most important metric and P&G still believes that. “When they first launched the community they had a lot of media dollars they could put behind the growth of the community,” Hering said. “What they had actually done is buy the cheapest fans they possibly could and then put a lot of coupons on the page.”

Building the community

P&G was taking pride in the fact that they had built a huge following. But when Hering took over, she tried to help them understand that there’s one metric far more important than reach — engagement. Engagement has been the key word for Hering and her crew, whether it be with creating a content strategy or calculating the ROI. P&G built a superficial community of people Hering referred to as “coupon trolls” but since then, after focusing on the target demographics, the Downy community has turned into an interactive, engaging community that actually advocates on behalf of the brand.

Getting the users invovled

The best way to advocate on behalf of a brand is through user generated content. But does Downy have a community that will embrace UGC? Yes. It’s large, it’s well-established and Hering has the wheels turning on ways to get them more involved. One way has been to ask them which hard parts of their lives need softening as a part of their #softside campaign. Using user-suggestions, Downy has posted visuals of life’s hardest moments being softened, like crossword puzzles. But Hering could be doing more. She’s currently just taking suggestions from users rather than actually using content they create themselves. It says a lot about a community that is willing to go out and create something for a brand.

 

Study the data

Hering is all about the statistics. P&G has kind of forced her to be, since they rely so much on data to make decisions. “We are trying to have the numbers almost tell a story,” Hering said. And what’s the most important stat to Hering? Shares. She says that in her opinion, shares are currently the most important metric out there because it means so much more than a like or a comment since it’s like wearing “a badge on their social shoulder” and saying “I am an advocate of this brand.”

On the right track

Hering knows she still has a long way to go to convert the community from a coupon hungry, shallow audience, to an engaging consumer base that’s ready to advocate for Downy. But she’s on the right track. Using metrics, demographic targeting and user generated content, she is establishing a community based on engagement rather than size.