Author Archive for Jared Mandel

Moderation, Round Two

Having done it before, you would think it would be easier the second time – well, it was! After being the weekly community manager for CMGRClass a few weeks ago, I learned so many things about what it takes to aggregate content, start and keep up conversations, and do it all across multiple platforms, while keeping it meaningful.

When I had the opportunity to do it all again this past week, I was exciting to put what I had learned the first time together to do an even better job the second time. Most of what I tried worked, but other things did not. First with the good…

The Good

What I had trouble with the first time while moderating the class discussion was balancing Twitter and Google+ conversations. I was confused as to what I should post where, and when I should do it. I sort of started off with a let’s wing it attitude, but that proved to be a little difficult and hard to keep track of. This time I had a more concrete plan.

Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 8.24.24 PMFirst, I recognized that it was near the end of the semester, so I used that to my advantage when deciding what to post on Google+. I used the idea that people would be excited to talk about the end of the semester, to start conversations that were nostalgic and reflective on what we had learned in the previous weeks and months. People seemed to really like that. I also interjected into the conversation some of my own ideas each time I posted something, so that people felt like I too was taking the initiative to be a part of the conversation just as they were – something I learned from reading “Buzzing Communities.” 

Next, I decided to vary the content more from Google+ to Twitter. Instead of posting the same content in a different way, I posted different content. For Twitter, I decided to stick with fun facts and little tidbits of information that people might retweet or favorite. That is exactly the behavior that I saw from people. On the other hand, Google+ content was focused more on conversation starters and longer form discussions.

The Bad

What did not work for me so well was the way in which I initiated my own thoughts into my Google+ posts. I realized soon after I started that I was being a little inconsistent. On some posts I added my own insight right into the post, in others I added my own comment. I think it worked better posting later in the comments, because doing it the other way made my initial post much longer and less appealing for people to read in the first place.

There was certainly less participation this week than there was when I previously moderating class discussion, but that is likely due to the timing of the week. It think that planning out the content to better suit the time frame really did help, though, because it applied to what was on people’s minds at the time.

In the End

Overall, I enjoyed moderating the class discussion for a second time. I think that with each time you do something, you learn something new and hone your skills a little more, and community management and moderation is certainly no exception.

What do you think about my job as moderator. How did I do? Come on, lay it on me – the good and the bad!

Lessons From and Army of Leaders

Words of wisdom. We traditionally look to the older and wiser for advice, but in today’s digital and social world it is often the young and the savvy who can teach us a thing or two about social media and community management. As part of #CMGRClass we had the opportunity to hear from an amazing panel of leaders in community management today, who had advice ranging from how to build an effective brand presence to effectively interacting with individuals in an ever growing online community.

The panel who we had the opportunity to hear from were leaders from names like Vimeo, Policy Mic, Lenovo, and Foursquare. All who offered unique perspectives on community management and social media.

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Common Themes

It’s no surprise that when you put great minds into one room, or one Google Hangout, they’re probably going to think alike. And that was certainly true. One on the main themes that I heard throughout the panel discussion was about connecting with individuals. This goes back to the idea of creating and building meaningful relationships with members of your audience.

Also, building on relationships, it’s important to make your audience feel important – like they matter. Being direct and tailoring your conversation or message was a key takeaway for me.

Furthermore, it’s important to stay grounded as your community grows. While the above may be easy as you are starting your community, as it grows to hundreds and even thousands of followers, staying on track and being true to yourself or brand becomes more and more difficult, but not impossible. That is why it is always important to have a plan.

Make the Audience Feel Special

One notion that stuck in my mind after the talk is that in order to make your audience feel special and keep them coming back, you really need to know your followers and understand them. You need to listen to their questions, comments, concerns and needs, and even better you need to be able to anticipate. Anticipate what they want, what will make them happy, and what will build trust.

Gavin talked about treating people like VIPs. With something like the Foursquare beta program, loyal users have the ability to have an impact on the future of a product, and this empowers them as well as builds a meaningful relationship that is two-way and beyond just a conversation.

I can relate to this having been an early buyer into a new product launching this summer called Coin, which is an electronic credit card device that stores up to 8 cards at once. As an early buyer, not only was I given a 50% discount, but I get frequent updates and access to their VIP site where I can updates on its progress and exclusive information. I don’t even have the device in my hands yet, and I feel “special.”

3 Pieces of Advice

While the panel offered tons of great advice, you would get bored reading an entire synopsis of what they said, so here are my three main pieces of advice to pass along:

  1. Don’t just create a community, build one – build trust, relationships, and recognize those followers who are extra special and loyal to your brand. Do something extra for them.
  2. Be a leader not a follower – unique ideas and a unique personality will set you apart. Those who follow other brands will be behind the curve before they even start. Don’t try to fool the follower, they’re smarter than you think. “Be proactive, not reactive.”
  3. Worry about the numbers, but don’t obsess – Depending on where you are with your community, your numbers might be big or small. What’s more important are the quality of your online relationships. Use metrics to your advantage, but don’t obsess over the numbers

What do you think of the advice? Do you agree or disagree with anything the panel discussed?

7 Days, 12 Posts, and Countless Conversations

Over the course of one week, I took to my keyboard, put on my listening cap, and moderated. I experienced a week in the life of a moderator, and to my surprise it was fun, busy, and challenging at times. My responsibilities included moderating the #CMGRClass conversations on Google+ and Twitter. This was my experience.

The first few days

The conversation started off seeming like it might be a bit challenging. Moderating a conversation on multiple challenge with many people requires listening and participating while maintaining a good balance and free-flowing conversation. Once the conversation started, things seemed to smooth out as days went on.

One of the first challenges that I noticed was deciding where to post certain content and conversations, and when to use Twitter vs. Google+. Even more challenging was not getting caught up in one or the other and neglecting one of the outlets. They both needed to remain active.

Differing content

Early on, I decided what content I would post where. Google+ would be used for posting most of the articles and reading content that would be educational and spark conversations, and Twitter would be used for more asking questions, and also posting lighter reading. I liked using Twitter for quick one sentence questions and answers because of its nature – the dreaded 140 character limit. Much more in-depth conversations were had on Google+.

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It’s also worth noting which content was most successful. Those tweets and posts that included a specific call to action like a question or call for opinion tended to get more traffic and conversation overall. Those which simply included a link had less comments and conversation, likely because there was no reason for the community to interact beyond reading the post of linked article.

Timeline

I wanted to be sure to post at least one thing each day. I tried to schedule a certain time each day where I knew I would be free to sit down, converse, and post. Things don’t always go as planned, though, so adapting my schedule was important.

What I found, was using mobile application for Twitter and Google+ were imperative to my success, because being dependent on a laptop or desktop computer was too restrictive. I now cannot imagine being a community manager without have a smartphone or equivalent mobile device.

As I mentioned earlier, posting and responding became easier as the week went on and as the conversation flow grew. I did not have a schedule, but went more with the flow of the conversation and the feel or attitude of the community to decide what posts people were reacting well too and when I might consider changing the type of posts I am posting.

Summary and what I learned

  1. To be a good moderator or community manager listening and understanding your audience is very important
  2. Moderating can be time consuming, but always being “plugged in” helps keep up with the flow
  3. Community management can certainly be a full time job, depending on the community, its involvement and the responsibilities
  4. Not getting caught up in one community is key to a successful widespread strategy

Participants

  • Gabby Montano
  • Lindz Silver
  • Sarah Ostman
  • Elaina Powless
  • Kelly Lux
  • Devon Balk

Metrics

Google+: 12 original posts from moderator; 21 comments and non-moderator posts

Twitter: 11 original posts from moderator; 2 favorites; 3 retweets; 6 conversations (moderator involved)

Walk in the Shoes of a Social Media Manager

If you want to know what it’s like to be a social media manager, just as Maren Guse, Assistant Director of Digital and Social Media at Syracuse University (SU). She’s one of the brains behind the operation that keeps SU tweeting, posting, and sharing.

Introductions First

Guse is responsible for content across SU’s main flagship social accounts including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram, among others. I had the chance to sit down with her and pick her brain about what it means to be a social media manager to her.

“What I do is oversee the accounts on social media under the flagship accounts, so everything that is branded “Syracuse University.” What we do is provide content on those channels and then develop conversations around that content that relates back to our brand.”

The Brand

Yes, SU is a brand. After all, they have an image to uphold, and social media can either be a blessing or a curse for any brand. When done right, social media with the help of an effective social media manager can have large and positive impact on a brand.

The first thing that I learned from Maren is that in order to do your job well you need to understand both your brand and your audience(s). Most of the time you will have multiple audiences, and that is important to recognize too.

The Audiences

What do I mean by multiple audiences? Well, for instance, Maren monitors and interacts on multiple social channels, like the ones I mentioned above. They don’t all have the same audience, so Maren needs to recognize those unique audiences and tailor content on each platform to best fit the needs of the users. Facebook has a more alumni based audience, where Twitter is made up of mostly current and prospective students. See what I mean?

The Job

Maren explained her job as a social media manager well,

“It means to develop conversations with people and foster dialogue around a brand, but also to get the University into those conversations.”

Sometimes it is starting conversations, other times its joining in on conversations, and other times it just means listening. All of these are important, and all of them require planning. Any effective social media manager knows that you can’t just sit down in front of a computer and start tweeting. Maren explains that content calendars help plan day-to-day content, and regular meeting help create long-term plans too.

Yes, it is social media, which means it can be unexpected at time. That’s where listening becomes important, and then thinking on your feet comes into play.

Maren also spoke about using tools to help you collaborate and manage. Tools like Google Docs and Tweetdeck are Maren’s go-to, but anything that helps a social media manager listen and interact across multiple channels, and to collaborate with their staff will do.

The Take-away

The biggest take-away from my conversation with Maren was to always be listening, always be adaptive, and always be human. By being human, a brand can make connections, create a community, and build meaningful relationships.

Are you a community manager, do you aspire to be? How do your experiences compare? Comment below or tweet me @JaredMandel

Apology Accepted, Maybe.

The case study “When the Twitterverse Turns On You” looks at a common occurrence for companies and brands on Twitter – backlash and negative comments. It happens all the time, to all brands, good and bad. This particular case study is fictionalized, but portrays an all too common situation: a company that decides to use the power of Twitter to host a conversation or contest. The idea is to get people talking about their brand, which gives them visibility to the public as well as a platform for creating a positive relationship with the public. The one problem: the public is unpredictable.

In the fictional case, an airline decides to hold a Twitter contest that uses a hashtag and the creativity of the tweeting public. The problem, however, arises when the tweeting public decides to use the hashtag and get creative by bashing the airline with negative comments.

Some notable brands that this has happened to over the years include The Home Depot, Nokia, McDonald’s and Price Chopper. Price Chopper decided that when someone tweeted at them with a negative comment, they would respond with in a not so positive or understanding way. This was a mistake.

Negative tweet from Price Chopper customer.

Another brand that has had a notable fail is Nestle, who on Facebook rather than Twitter, decided that censoring negative comments on a post, attempting to delete comments, and pushing back at customers’ comments was a good move. You guessed correctly, it wasn’t.

Nestle’s negative comments on Facebook.

So what can brands do when no so positive comments or conversation comes up on social channels? The best thing to do is simply “be human.”When I say be human, I mean listen, understand, and fix. The reason customers complain is because they either genuinly care and want you to change, or because they are looking for a reaction. By reacting negatively, brands are only hurting themselves. It makes them look bad, doesn’t do anything to fix relationships with customers who care, and gives those making negative comments for reaction exactly what they want.

On the other hand, brands that take action to listen and do their best to fix the problem with the mentality that “the customer is always right” will usually see positive outcomes. Those who care will feel cared for and respect the brand, and that is what building relationships is all about. Many brands think that apologies are a sign of weakness, but in reality they are often a sign of strength.

Social Media Goes Down in History

We tweet, we like, we follow, and we share. But it wasn’t always that way. If you tell your parents to tweet about something, they might look at you like you have three heads. It speaks to how new social is and where its biggest impacts lie. But the fact is, social has been around for a really long time – just not in the same way that we think of social today.

Here’s a brief timeline of the evolution of social to what we know it to be today:

1950s Phone Phreaking —> 1960s Email —> 1969 ARPANET —> 1970s MUD —> 1978 BBS (Bulletin Board System) —> 1990s Modern Social Networking

So what is all of that? Let’s start with phone phreaking. Sounds phreaky, but it’s not. The term refers to Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 11.40.26 AMpeople who used go rogue on the telephone lines to try and use circuits to make free calls. Many phreaks ended up hacking into corporate unused voice mailboxes to host the first forms of blogs and podcasts.

Next came email. Okay, we all know what email is, but in the 1960s, email was very exclusive. The Internet was not publicly available until decades later, but a basic infrastructure for email did exist in which both computers that were looking to exchange communication messages needed to be online at the same time. Email has certainly evolved since then, but think about it, aren’t we almost always connected now on our smartphones?

ARPANET in the late 60s refers to the Advanced Research Projects Agency. ARPANET was an “early network of time sharing computers that formed the basis of the internet.” Two key words jump out in that description: “time” and “sharing.” Isn’t the basis of modern social media based around real-time sharing? Hmm, we’re on to something here.

By the 1970s social started to become more sophisticated with virtual worlds like MUD and real-time information sharing platforms like the Bulletin Board System, which allowed people to upload and download files as well as post and share information and news.

Finally came modern social networks and social media in the early 1990s. By 1991 the Internet was publicly available, and that created a rush to be the biggest and best social network out there. Many failed, few still exist.

The history that social has painted is an interesting one. It shows us that being social is in our nature. We want to interact with others and create communities where we can be social. So now that we have taken a peak at the past, let’s look into the future. How are you social now, and how do you imagine us being social in the future? Share you comments below or tweet me @JaredMandel!