Author Archive for Jessica McDonald

Top 3 Tips for New Community Managers

It is crazy to think that it is the last week of the semester. With all these wonderful topics we have discussed, it is a great idea to wrap up the semester discussing some last tips for aspiring community managers and potential jobs and the job outlook for community managers or social media managers. One of the articles this week titled, “10 Tips For Aspiring Community Managers” by Vadim Lavrusik really gave great insight into some “do’s” if you get the chance to become a community manager.

Lavrusik’s Top 10

Lavrusik’s top ten were as follows:

1. Be an expert of your product or company
2. Love the product and company
3. Work on your communication skills
4. Blog and have a social presence
5. Be authentic
6. Be multi-skilled and prioritize platforms strategically
7. Listen, add value, and build relationships
8. Engage online and off
9. Think like an entrepreneur and be quick to adapt
10. Empower your colleagues to be community builders

While I truly think these are all extraordinary tips, there are 3 that really stand out to me.

My Top 3


Photo courtesy of Dirk Bartels and Olaf Lewitz

Photo courtesy of Dirk Bartels and Olaf Lewitz

Be an expert of your product or company – This is a big one for me. There are so many instances in which I have personally experienced someone working for a company and doesn’t have a clue about their product. While this person might not be a community manager, I can definitely see how crucial it is to have knowledge of the product and company. I mean, you are trying to build the brand and influence the community. You should definitely know a good deal about it. I love the quote in the article stating, ” It’s important to research the relevant aspects of the company with a “fine tooth comb mentality” because you truly do have to do your homework. A community manager is very important to the brand, and in my opinion, if you don’t know the ins and outs of the product or organization, it can be a big disadvantage.

Be multi-skilled and prioritize platforms strategically – I always knew that you would have to be multi-task and be multi-skilled in order to be an effective community manager. But, I didn’t exactly know how important that would be until the last panel we had. Jenn Lopez who is a community manager at Moz, really opened my eyes to this. She discussed how it is so important to be able to do multiple tasks. In her department, she makes sure everyone has the skills to do any job. That way, if someone falls ill or someone simply isn’t there, other people can step up and help. Every day could be different for a community manager, and that is something I have learned in this class. Being prepared by having numerous skill sets is a plus because like already stated, you never know a skill that could come in handy when you’re engaging with your community!

Engage Online and Off – the more I research and learn, the more I find this important, especially for an aspiring community manager. It’s obviously crucial to engage online with the community, but it is also very important to engage offline. When we had the last panel, Topher, a community manager at Google discussed how having community manager hangouts and different meet ups have really influenced him and the people he has met in these hang outs have become his mentors. Meeting up not only improve your communication skills, but it can also build long-lasting relationships. A great quote from Lavrusik’s article is as follows, “Though online community is important, connecting with people in-person will help strengthen the relationships you build.” With someone seeking a community management position, relationships and communication are key and engaging offline may be able to help you get into that position that you are seeking.

Question to consider

While these are my top 3, they may not be yours. Ultimately, I think the biggest question would be:

How To Connect With Your Audience

This weeks topic was all about comments, blogger outreach, and ambassador programs. One article that I agreed with most was titled, “12 Ways Strong Social Brands Connect with Their Audience” by Britt Michaelia which gave great tips for brands to connect with their audience. A great quote in this article is as follows,

“The deeper we get into the social media age, despite its ever changing tides, the more clear it is how important connection is for establishing a bond with your audience.”

That is for certain. We are becoming more and more reliant on engaging with our audience. While there are twelve ways that successful brands connect with their audience, two of these in particular stood out to me and I will explain why.

Photo courtesy of Amanda Ryan via Google Images “labeled for reuse”



The Top 2

While I have to admit that all 12 of these ways that social brands connect with their audience are important, the two that struck me were:

  • They engage in meaningful conversations with their followers on a consistent basis.
  • They realize that without their audience, their message would not be heard, so they express and show gratitude often.

First, I think it’s pretty simple to understand that in order to connect with your audience, you are going to have to converse with them. But, the first bullet point states that you must engage in meaningful conversations with your followers on a consistent basis. That is where it differs from just simply engaging. Meaningful and consistent really make this bullet point stand out to me. There is a difference between a conversation and a meaningful conversation. Does the conversation pertain to your business? Will it positively help your company in any way? Also, the other word consistent is also very important. You can’t expect to connect with your audience if you are rarely engaging. Being consistent will keep the audience engaged. How many times do a week do you engage your audience? Are there days when you do not converse at all with the audience? All of these questions are ones to consider. I know that I personally do not like it when it feels like a brand goes M.I.A. and doesn’t respond or engage the audience for a while. This really puts a deep impression on them and routinely engaging with followers can eliminate this completely. 

Image courtesy of phat-kat-creative via Google Images "labeled for reuse"

Image courtesy of phat-kat-creative via Google Images “labeled for reuse”

Second, in order to connect with your audience, brands need to realize that they are nothing without their audience. Without them, their message would not be heard nor would it mean anything. This reminds me of a sport I particularly like. I am a big fan of snocross racing (snowmobile racing) which relies on fans and the audience. They are nothing without their audience. One of my favorite racers in particular realizes that he is nobody without them. He always has his race trailer open for people to come and engage with him in between races, as well as actively engaging with his fans via multiple social media platforms. It’s easy to see why he’s the most liked guy, and he has his audience to thank for that. He continuously thanks his fans (the audience in this case) and shows gratitude. This is pretty much the same as the second bullet, which is that the brand has to realize that without their audience, their message would not be heard, so they take the time to express their gratitude. Engaging with your audience makes all the difference and realizing how important they really are can go a long way. Showing your gratitude towards your audience can go even further.


I am not saying that these two are definitely the most important 2 from this article, but to me, they stood out. I think all twelve really encompass ways to connect with your audience. I ultimately think a little can go a long ways in terms of reaching out and engaging with your audience. Is it so hard to take 5 minutes out of your day to shoot a quick, “Thank you so much to our followers! Without you we wouldn’t be here!”?

Questions to consider:

Based on the list of 12, would would your Top 2 be and why?

Are there any more that you would add to the list?


Tips from various Community Managers

This week’s panel for CMGRclass was one word: great. It is amazing to see people that technically have the same title, but are different in some ways. It’s also great to see all the different backgrounds that they come from!

Jen, the director of community at Moz, Lea, the community manager for Cycle for Survival, Sahana, who focuses on the community and marketing aspect at Klout, and Topher, part of the community team for Google all brought different aspects to the table that were very beneficial.

I spent most of my time during the hangout jotting down notes that I thought were relevant and good points. Come to find out, it seemed like I typed almost everything they said, because that’s how important I felt it was. How many pages did I type in Word regarding this panel? 5 single spaced pages. May be a bit much, but this is something I know I can always refer to.

My two takeaways

While clearly there are a million things I could write about, there were two takeaways in particular from the panel that I thought were great. First, the different traits that are most helpful to them that should be focused on and second, their mentors.


It was really neat to see the traits that each community manager felt was important. A quick recap of each panel member’s thoughts were as follows:

Jen-Being able to figure out what to do next is huge. Having the ability to take something and make a decision on what happens next is very important as well as having the ability to make decisions quickly.

Jenn speaking with #CMGRclass

Jenn speaking with #CMGRclass

Lea- Empathy is very important such as having the ability to empathize what is actually being said behind the words. Also, curiosity is crucial. Constantly looking to be better and being curious to learn is a great trait to have.

Sahana- Her five traits she believes are important are: the hunger to learn, being able to take something and actually doing something with it, being able to speak up and share your opinions and feedback, being perceptive, and being able to prioritize and knowing what’s most important and what’s not.

Topher- Energy is very important. How you display your energy and show your interests are crucial traits. Having the energy to tackle any task at any time is a trait that is valued for a community manager.


Topher speaking with #CMGRclass

Topher speaking with #CMGRclass

It was very interesting to see the different mentors these four community managers have had along the way. A recap of the four panelists responses are as follows:

Topher – He has had a combination of mentors, ranging from a girl named Julia who is the editor for the creative’s project, to all the great community managers at different meet-ups.

Sahana- An assortment of individuals have helped her along the way. She owes everything to her mentors because they taught her so much. She has a couple people she has kept in touch with via e-mail as well as different chats, such as #CMGRchat.

Lea- The people who send e-mails of emotional love are her mentors. Getting out and hearing from people at meet-ups have been a sense of mentoring for her. Receiving the e-mails that inspire you have been a guidance for her.

Jen- It’s extremely hard for her to pinpoint one or two people. She has found that just by being in her community, she has gained many mentors. Not one person knows everything, so different people mentor you in different ways. She has mentors when she reaches out to her community and gets answers.

Lea speaking with #CMGRclass

Lea speaking with #CMGRclass


Ultimately, this was a very unique panel with many different backgrounds experience and educational wise. There were many great things that were taken away from this panel and many tips that we can all use in the future were given. I think my favorite part of the panel was the different traits, because it seemed everyone had different answers but they were all great. I truly think being curious and willing to learn is the top one for me. Things are always changing and you have to go with the flow. You have to expect the unexpected and be ready to act upon things quickly when they arise. Without the sense of curiosity, you might not be ready to make those decisions. I think if I could take away one thing from this panel (even though there are endless), I would have to say it is crucial to manage your time well and be open to learning new things plus giving yourself an emotional break every once in a while!

Sahana speaking with #CMGRclass

Sahana speaking with #CMGRclass



What were your favorite thoughts on the panel?

Did one trait seem more important that others?

Do you have a particular mentor?


What NOT to do in your community

This week we learned about listening and planning when it came to your community. A great article by Deb Ng titled, “How to Annoy Your Community and Ruin Your Brand’s Reputation in the Process” showed ways in which your presence in your community can ultimately become annoying. We all want to find ways to increase likes, or increase the presence in our community. However, there is a difference between times when you go too far, or what the article says as what is personal and what isn’t.

Photo courtesy of Gail Williams via Flikr Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Gail Williams via Flikr Creative Commons


What NOT to do

So many people think that personally reaching out to people and asking them to like your page is appropriate. To me, it sounds desperate. People will come and I don’t think it is professional to do that. It’s better to have earned likes and followers rather than buy them. A quote from the article states,

“Here’s when it’s ok to auto spam all the people who follow you on Twitter to ask them to Like your Facebook page: NEVER.” 

Even if you are trying to be nice and tell them that you will “like” them back, that is not okay. All that it is doing is being annoying and can ultimately hurt your brand.

Suggestions on things TO do

Some suggestions which are not too invasive can be to share content people like, ask people to join your page publicly but acknowledge WHY they should, participate in the community, and respect the community. During my semester long social media strategy project last year, my client started with 50 likes. By the end of the semester and the suggestions that offered, he was over 100. While that might not be too much, it doubled which in my eyes is pretty good. He didn’t reach out personally to people for them to “like” the page. Rather, he posted great content relating to auto enthusiasts and also sparked interesting conversations and offered contests. This is the type of content that people like and will follow.

The other big thing is my client Nick listened to the people. He effectively altered his business to what the customers wanted. He listened to their opinions and stories on what they think he should offer and have in his shop. That brought about more followers and “likes” without him having to do what you shouldn’t do: spam your community. In my opinion, if someone did that to me, I would be a little stand-offish and wouldn’t like it. I think the big thing is we have to think about what we would feel in that situation, and if we wouldn’t like it done to us, then don’t do it.


Finally, it’s up to you to figure out how to effectively market your brand and build the community the way you want it. But, you can’t be desperate. I think my biggest takeaway from this week is that in order for you not to annoy the community and ruin your brand, you have to let them come to you, and it’s ultimately up to you how you rope them in. With interesting content, respecting the community, and participating, the community can be successful.

Some questions to consider:

Are there any other suggestions to consider?

Can you think of a time where it’s okay to spam your followers?


Building Your Community

Building a community can happen when you least expect it. According to a great article by Dino Dogan titled “How To Build A Community of Fanatics”, communities are great to have and there are many important tips that need to be followed in order to build a successful community.

Where to start

Many think that you start a community by planning and thinking about how you want a community. But in fact, many communities come about by not even having the intention to start one. Dogan stated,

It all starts with intention. It all starts with your intention, but not the intention to create a community.

For example, if we have a problem that we would like to solve, we intend to do something about that problem. We may start a blog to express our concerns, but we may not have intended to start a successful problem-solving blog about product X which has grown into a successful community.

Photo courtesy of Niall Kennedy via Flikr Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Niall Kennedy via Flikr Creative Commons

Once the community has emerged, it is crucial to make it successful. How do we do that? Well, the first thing we need to do is get to know our audience. I often write about a project I worked on last semester regarding a start-up do-it-yourself auto garage business where I developed a social media strategy. The owner, Nick, had to get to know his audience and believe me, once he got to know them, it really helped. Nick has gotten to know his audience over the past year and their opinions are what have shaped the company. He caters to them and listens. He reaches out to the audience and sparks engagement. The audience will most likely be the customer’s in the future and by knowing them, you can already know a little bit about them before they come to the shop.

Some more basics

Also in Dogan’s article, he states that it is important to be human and to have quality customer service. We all hate having something automated spit back information at us. Nothing is better than having someone actually talk to you, not a robot. Having people like us communicate and interact with the community is key. Dogan stated,

In short, a community will expect a certain level of service from a real human. Be that human.

There are many different ways that we are expected to talk to the community. I think the biggest takeaway is that we need to be vocal with the community, and what we say has to have meaning. Is what we are posting important? Are we just posting irrelevant content?

That leads to customer service. There were excellent points in Dogan’s article regarding customer service. Some key points:

  • acknowledge people as soon as possible
  • treat people like humans, not just a number
  • do not lecture at people

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 4.26.39 PM

It seems that in today’s world, we do things a million miles an hour. We become impatient if we are not responded to immediately. Whether you can immediately fix the problem a community member is having or not, it’s important to at least acknowledge them and let them know they are working on it. In the example in the photo, a person asked about a problem with the server. IBM Redbooks immediately responded to let them know they are aware of the problem and are working on restoring it. I believe that they will appreciate the quick response and will be more understanding rather than not hearing anything at all. Great customer service can contribute to a successful community.

Anything else?

Well, this already seems like quite a bit when we are trying to build a community. But, one of the most important tips according to Dogan when building a community is to have fun! Be creative and think about what the community would like. Be spunky not boring. Find ways to attract the attention of the community. Obviously building a community is a ton of work, but it can be worth it. You have to have some fun, because the last thing we want to happen is it becomes a grind engaging with the community.
What are your thoughts on this?
Can you suggest other tips to build an engaged community?
Have you had an experience where you have dealt with an automated message rather than a human? How was that experience?


Learning from a Community Manager Panel

In class last week, we were very fortunate to have a Google+ Hangout which included David Yarus from MRY, Nick Cicero from Livefrye, and Morgan Johnston from JetBlue. This was an extremely interesting chat because each of the men were from different backgrounds and their jobs and responsibilities were a bit different. They each offered unique perspectives on topics that we have been learning about so far this semester.

What the CM/SMM does according to the Panel

It was very neat to see each of the men’s opinions on the role of a community manager or social media manager within their organization.As for David, a community manager at MRY monitors and strategizes while working with creative,strategy, and analytic teams to construct the foundation for their strategy. Also, they are the ones that may be writing the actual posts that we see.

Morgan Johnston speaking to CMGR class

Morgan Johnston speaking to CMGR class

As for Morgan at JetBlue, he focused more on the social role, which was a bit different than the others. Social responsibilities were split up among 3 teams: corporate communications, marketing/commercial, and customer support. Corporate communications does the storytelling, the marketing/commercial focuses on creating content, and the customer support are the ones focused on engagement. So, when it comes to engagement, the customer support team is the part of JetBlue that responds to tweets and other social media engagement.

When it comes to Nick at LiveFyre, there are many different departments that work in different areas, but when it comes to community managers, customer service is the department. He states that there is a marketing team that focuses on marketing, and a customer service department that manages the communities. However, the marketing team works in tandem with the customer service team to find opportunities in social conversation.

Metrics & Analytics

We were able to get a glimpse of different tools that each company uses for monitor trends. Morgan and Nick talked about what their company uses. Nick stated that they use Hootsuite, which is a social media dashboard where you can manage multiple social networks, schedule different tweets and messages, track mentions, and analyze traffic. He states that they use it so that they can identify where specific instances are happening and maintain an effective level of communication.

David Yarus speaking with CMGR class

David Yarus speaking with CMGR class

As for Morgan, they use a tool called ExactTarget Social Engage which allows multiple people to be involved and helps manage the conversation. This tool offers features that support engagement growth and makes it easy to scale up and deliver the kind of engagement that customer’s want. It was interesting to see that no one uses tools designed by the company, but it was very interesting to see the different type of tools that they use to monitor trends, since last week we learned about many different metrics.


Important Takeaways

Like previously stated, this was a very interesting panel discussion because of the different backgrounds and companies of the speakers. It was an eye-opening discussion when they all stressed how they work with so many other teams to make sure everything is consistent across the board. When I originally thought of a community manager or a social media manager, I would think of a particular department,  or a community management department. My thinking has now changed and this discussion has led me to believe that the more teams that work together when it comes to social responsibilities, the better. With all of these different people and departments, you get more layers of expertise and the group benefits as a result. Everyone working together can increase engagement and can produce successful social media/community strategies.

It was also interesting to see how many positions there are that have to do with social media and the community. While we really focus on social media managers and community managers, this discussion really showed how many careers are in this field. Who knew customer support could be where community managers reside? Who knew that marketing teams would work in tandem with community managers? It was great to see the connections and learn about positions in these exciting fields.

Nick Cicero speaking with CMGR class

Nick Cicero speaking with CMGR class


  • If you were to ask David, Nick, or Morgan a question, what would it be?
  • Have you worked with any of these monitoring tools like Hootsuite or SocialEngage?
  • Is there anything you would add?


Learning from Community Manager Tim McDonald

I had the pleasure of interviewing Tim McDonald, former community manager and now currently Director of Community at Huffington Post. Questions that I asked Tim corresponded with the topics that we have been studying this semester. Topics ranged from: differences between social media manager and community manager, search engine optimization (SEO), blogging, and metrics & analytics.

Tim’s Comparison of Social Media Manager vs. Community Manager

During the interview with Tim

It was very interesting to get Tim’s take on the differences. We have learned thus far that a social media manager is more focused on the brand, whereas a community focuses more on relationships and the community. He refers to a social media manager as a “social media marketer”. An excellent quote by Tim is as follows: “, “Social media marketing to me is more of a bulldozer- you are pushing information out. Community management is about being a magnet and attracting people and drawing them in.” This was a great takeaway from the interview and I felt as if it was a great yet simple way to explain the differences.


It was interesting to see that in such a large organization like Huffington Post, they have people that are solely dedicated to SEO. He states that even though that are people that are simply focused on SEO, it’s important to at least have an understanding and an awareness of it when working on Huffington Post. At Huffington Post, he doesn’t have to implement it, but he has to have an awareness of it. It might be different at a smaller company, where you don’t have particular people delegated for this particular thing. You may in fact have to be the implementor at a smaller company. It reminds me of an IT manager. You do not have to be extremely technical, but you should at least have an understanding of the concepts and processes.


Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 3.21.50 PM




When it comes to blogging, Huffington Post is practically one big blog, so obviously, blogging is extremely important to them. Tim states that there is a huge emphasis on blogging there, but he also emphasizes that personal blogging is extremely important and allows your to establish your brand. There wasn’t too much to say, other than blogging is extremely beneficial and important to not only the company, but to you. Seeing how successful Huffington Post is when it’s practically a blog goes to show how important and beneficial blogs really are.

Metrics & Analytics

This was an interesting topic during the interview, since Tim stated that they are very fortunate and actually have people that build tools right at Huffington Post to monitor trends. So far, we have learned different kinda of metrics, such as audience metrics, engagement metrics, social listening & monitoring, customer service, demographics, etc. Some examples of the kinds of metrics that are studied at Huffington Post are: when posts are being shared, what the engagement will be on the post (how many re-tweets, replies, clicks), and  how many active registered users month after month and week after week. While there are many more, those are the few that he touched upon. One of my favorite quotes throughout the entire interview was when he was talking about metrics & analytics. He stated, “We need to stop looking at the big numbers, and start looking at the little numbers that create big results.”


It was really great to get a community manager’s perspective on the topics that we have discussed so far this semester. It was great to get a real-world example of the importance of these topics as well. Tim provided great insight and allowed me to learn a great deal not only about Huffington Post, but about the role that a community manager plays. Lastly, when speaking about a community manager, Tim states, “We are the experts of nothing, yet we know the experts of everything.”

The entire video can be viewed here: Interview with Community Manager Tim McDonald

Moderating #CMGRClass on Twitter & Google+

My moderating week did not go as well as planned. It seemed everyone who moderated before had many people involved and participation was much higher. On the flip side, I learned new things regarding moderating and while I thought this week was tough just to jump back and forth from Google+ and Twitter with only a few comments, I know that there is so much more involved regarding community management. For example, in the article by Jeff Sonderman titled How the Huffington Post handles 70+ Million Comments a Year, there can be up to 25,000 posts an hour! Now if I thought this week was challenging, I can’t imagine what they go through daily, even hourly! Although, with that volume, they have up to 30 full time moderators that work 24/7/365 in six-hour shifts where they can go through hundreds of comments an hour.

One of the biggest takeaways from this week was that regardless of how many people participated, there was still good discussion. For Huffington Post, having 100,000 comments on a post isn’t unusual and with that, you can still have a very meaningful conversation. I think the same goes with not many comments. This allows the moderator to be able to be involved in the community and participate more since there isn’t as much on the plate. I felt as though it wasn’t that difficult to respond to what everyone had to say on the posts. It allowed me to follow up with some questions.

Photo courtesy of Jon Gossier  via Flikr Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Jon Gossier via Flikr Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Fabrizio Van Marciano via Flikr Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Fabrizio Van Marciano via Flikr Creative Commons

My Week as a Moderator

As stated above, I was hoping the discussion went a little deeper and I had more participation. I felt that I posted just as much if not more than other weeks, and I was active on Twitter. It didn’t seem that many people were responding nor was I getting many active participants on Twitter. However, with the comments we got, we were able to have a good discussion. The standout was Anne Marie, who posted on everything we put out there on Google+. We only got 1 retweet about an article I posted, and that was by Hannah. The Twitter participation was very disappointing. I would ask open ended questions and not many would respond. I have found this to be true for most weeks though, not just my week to moderate.

I learned that I shouldn’t overpower or dominate when I am moderating and I felt that I just needed to let things flow, and ask follow up questions only when needed. I am not sure if I overpowered the class with articles I found or if simply they didn’t find what I posted to be interesting. I still think to myself what I could have done better and what went wrong. I am open to suggestions for enhancing the experience and getting the class more engaged.

Social Media Manager and Community Manger – Difference?

This week was all about differentiating between a social media manager and a community manager. Initially, like I’m sure most people did, I thought they were the same thing. One will often assume that since a community manager uses Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms, they must be a social media manager as well. That is where they are wrong. There are different duties for each manager and this week we really got to dive into the main differences.


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What’s the Difference?

My biggest takeaway from this week regarding the difference is that social media managers are generally more concerned with their brand while community managers focus more on relationships with members of the particular community. This is not to say both do not utilize social media, but they utilize it in different ways. A more simple explanation in my opinion is that social media managers are most concerned with their product or service, while community managers are more concerned with the users of that product. In an article by Vanessa DiMauro titled “Social Media Manager vs. Online Community Manager: Same or Different?”, she discussed some of their roles. According to Vanessa, social media managers are more focused on:

  • raising awareness of the product or service
  • visibility of company, products, or services
  • drive leads
  • increase of sales
  • event attendance

On the other hand, she goes on to explain that community managers are more focused on:

  • customer questions on how to use product or service
  • learning from the customers through feedback
  • customer satisfaction/retention
  • increase utilization of products
  • improve customers’ ability to get help from one another

So it seems that a Community Manager is more of a people person?

My answer would be yes. That is not to say social media managers don’t take the customers’ into account. I just think after all of the readings and comparisons this week, it is safe to say that community managers are more focused on exactly their title: the community. While both titles manage tools, a community manager is more focused about using these tools for engagement within the community.

Are there similarities?

I think so. One aspect that I believe is similar in both a community manager and social media manager is that they both create content. In an article by Deb Ng titled, “5 Things Community Management Isn’t & 5 Things a Community Manager Is”she emphasizes that a community manager is a content creator. She states,

It’s our job to communicate with the community and we use a variety of channels to do so. You’ll often see community managers creating videos and blog posts. What we post on the social networks is also considered content and we take great care in crafting these messages. You have to have a way with words and be well versed in grammar and usage to be a successful CM.

Another article from this week is by The Community Roundtable titled, “Differentiating Between Social Media and Community Management.” In this post, they go on to discuss that social media managers are in fact the content creators. So, while these two articles seem to contradict each other, I think that it shows both community managers and social media managers can create content. They may create content for different reasons, but regardless, they both do.

Questions to consider:

  • Do you think it is necessary for companies to have both a community manager and a social media manager? Can they have one person that acts as both?
  • Are there any other similarities between the two?
  • Is there an easier way to explain the differences?

It’s Harder to Build a Community from 0-10 than 10-100

For our CMGRclass, we were fortunate enough to be able to chat with Ally Greer, a community manager a and Sean Keely, a blogger for Syracuse University sports. With two different backgrounds, we were able to gain different perspectives on how to manage communities.

Photo courtesy of Enrique Martinez Bermejo via Flikr Creative Commons

A variety of different topics were discussed that ranged from search engine optimization, how they measure success, and even their strategy for starting a community. There were a few points that each of them discussed that stood out to me:

Ally – It is harder to get from 0-10, than 10-100.

  • Her initial plan was to get thousands of ambassadors for and, but much to her surprise, it was very difficult to get ambassadors. She tapped into the top percentage of users and turned them into ambassadors. It is very difficult to get people to buy in, and because of that, it’s much more difficult than you think to get a huge community. She quickly realized that what her initial plan was not going to be the final plan, and as a community manager, you have to adjust to that.

Ally – “Just because you have 100,000 users doesn’t necessarily mean you have 100,000 users”

  • It is important to think that just because you have a community of only 100, it could still be stronger than a community of 10,000. The reason for this is because if these 100 community members/ambassadors participate, it will be more beneficial than the other community of 10,000 where only 20 participate. “I have learned that it is better to have fewer members that spark interest rather than many members that don’t spark any. Just because you may be a user of the product does not mean you are part of the community.”

Ally- “You have to constantly revamp a plan”

  • She emphasizes that one of the hardest parts is that you never know what people are going to react to and you might have to try something else. What I really took away from this is that community managers have to be able flexible and open to change because there are many different people with many different personalities that you have to tend to.

Sean – “Nothing speaks more to me than going to the site and seeing that a post has 150 comments and another post has 2”

  • While there are many different analytical tools and metrics to figure out trends, nothing speaks more to him than being able to see firsthand where the interest is. When and where posts are shared as well as people commenting on stories is where he can really tell that particular content is booming. This was particularly interesting because we have learned thus far that there are many ways to look at trends and metrics, and his way is simple, yet effective. He knows what stories are being talked about and he can create further content pertaining to those popular posts.

Sean – “The demographics I have seen are all over the place”

  • Many people assume a college sports blog like this would have a demographic of 20 year old males. But, there are a lot of female and older readers. The median age is closer to 40 than to 20. So, it is incorrect to say that his site is a 20 year old male centric site. This is an important concept in community management as well as content because you can never assume what your demographic is going to be, and you have to revamp your plan and adjust your strategy to the community. Community members might very well be all unique, but it is crucial to not assume what the demographics will be because you could be mistaken.

There were so many topics discussed in this hour long chat with both Ally and Sean. While those were only a few comments that stuck out to me, there were many more. It is very interesting to see how they differ when it comes to managing content, and it’s also interesting to see other differences, such as how they measure success (Ally keeping track of activations/ambassadors and Sean by site comments/social media input). On a final note, “everything depends on your ultimate goals,” Ally Greer.