Author Archive for Janine McElhone

Community Management: Now What?!

Whenever things come to a close, I always ask myself “now what”? Now, as we’re nearing the end of the CMGRclass, I find myself asking that same question. I feel like it applies in a few situations based on this week’s readings as well as the course in general.

So… you’re a community manager with a strong, growing community. Now what?!

For new communities, a Community Manager must help create the community and build it from the ground up. Once it hits the ground running and gains some success, the responsibilities of a CM grow larger. It’s exciting when your community becomes successful, but sometimes it means that the CM responsibilities become too much to handle. At some point, you’re going to have to start thinking bigger.

This week, we learned about the importance of scaling and how it will be beneficial to the future success of your community. Once your community is growing out of your own reach, you have to start looking to your community members for help. Richard Millington (FeverBee) suggests implementing processes that scale. The 11 processes he mentioned are as follows:

  • Recruit, train, manage and motivate volunteers.
  • Rewriting guidelines if they are violated too frequently
  • Encourage members receive a prominent by-line in the news article.
  • Setup a community e-mail address which several volunteers can access and reply to.
  • Teach volunteers to recruit and train other volunteers.
  • Ensure members can identify and remove bad posts.
  • Automate members inviting their friends.
  • Let members apply to run various forum categories.
  • Allow members to create their own groups, initiate events, start live-discussions.
  • Start a tradition of regulars welcoming newcomers.
  • Write detailed guidelines for doing your job.
Now what? Be ready for opportunities, and don't be afraid to take them! Taken from http://thecommunitymanager.com/2012/04/23/the-best-and-worst-community-management-job-descriptions/

Now what? Be ready for opportunities, and don’t be afraid to take them!
Taken from http://thecommunitymanager.com/2012/04/23/the-best-and-worst-community-management-job-descriptions/

All of these posts revolve around the same idea: let your community members help you out. Your community members should become ambassadors of the community, and you can rely on them to post content as well as moderate it. It’s a community, so treat it like one. Give your members responsibilities, and reward them for their help. This has two benefits. The members get the sense of pride and accomplishment knowing that they are an influential part of the community, and you get the satisfaction of knowing that the weight is being lifted from your shoulders. Now you have time to focus on thinking of what the community can do next!

So… you just finished CMGRclass and you’re about to graduate. Now what?!

This is one of the best classes I’ve taken at Syracuse. In only a few short months, I feel as though I am prepared to step into the world of Community Management–or at least prepared enough to test the water. Before this class, I will honestly say that I did not know what Community Management was. Now, I’m expanding my job search to include positions in this field. The course has absolutely prepared us with the skills necessary to become successful, but it was also great to read the article dedicated to aspiring Community Managers.

A few of Vadim Lavrusik’s 10 tips really stood out to me.

Be authentic “it’s not just about having a voice, but having an authentic one”. A company can easily set up social media accounts and call it a day. Starting a community is about going the extra mile to be personable and make relationships. This is only possible if you’re true to yourself and you are authentic. No one is interested in joining a community or supporting a brand they cannot relate to. Be more about the people, and more about being yourself, and don’t become a “faceless” brand.

 

Comcast is a great example of "being authentic". They are personable and all about their members! Taken from http://mashable.com/2010/08/21/community-manager-jobs/

Comcast is a great example of “being authentic”. They are personable and all about their members! Taken from http://mashable.com/2010/08/21/community-manager-jobs/

Listen, add value, and build relationships — this goes hand in hand with being authentic. It’s incredibly important to listen to the conversations between members in your community. This is how you’ll gain feedback that can be used to make changes that will better your company or community. Even if you’re not a community manager, these three tips are crucial to success. Building relationships is so important. You never know who will need your help down the road.

Think like an entrepreneur and be quick to adapt — you need to have a vision and be ready for anything. Being quick to adapt was a reoccurring theme this semester and something I can definitely vouch for. This summer, during my internship, I was complimented many times for being ready for anything and able to fix or make changes quickly. A little bit goes a long way.

Lastly, the biggest “now what?!” of all — getting a job!

The job search won’t be fun (or easy), but now I know what to look out for. I know that the job description will reveal a lot about whether or not a company is right for me. If you’re an aspiring Community Manager, you should be confident that your potential employer knows what Community Management is and is utilizing it the right way. For example, if a job description for a CM says “manage social media accounts and that’s about it”, you probably would not be utilizing your talents and skills.

Now what?! For me, I’m not sure, but I’m excited to see where my CMGRclass lessons will take me!

CMGRClass Panel: If the Hat Fits, Wear It!

One of the biggest themes throughout the semester has been the idea that a Community Manager must wear many different hats. In the past few years, the CM position has become more and more relevant and, because of that, it is still evolving. In previous posts, I’ve discussed how all Community Managers are unique, and responsibilities for each may vary. We’ve learned about how to make a community strong and how to get members engaged, but it’s important to dig deeper into what makes a strong Community Manager. Because the position is so demanding, it requires a very qualified individual.

Taken from Klout.com.

Taken from Klout.com.

This week, #CMGRclass was lucky enough to have panel of experts from four social and community-based companies: Lea Marino from Cycle for Survival, Topher Ziobro from Google Local NY, Jennifer Sable Lopez from Moz, and Sahana Ullagaddi from Klout. Many of our panelists (namely Topher and Sahana) agree with the “different hats” idea. What does this mean? How can a CM prepare himself/herself for such a responsibility?

A Strong and Diverse Background

A Community Manager has a wide variety of responsibilities, and most Community Managers need the diverse background to match. After watching each of the three panels, I noticed a trend among the panelists. Many panelists had previous jobs unrelated to the field of community or social management, but their past experiences have allowed them to be successful. The experts from this week’s panel were no exception.

Taken from https://plus.google.com/+GoogleLocalNewYork/posts.

Taken from https://plus.google.com/+GoogleLocalNewYork/posts.

Jen Lopez studied Journalism in college with a PR focus. After that, she worked in web development, technical consulting, SEO, and crisis management. This work allows her to answer customer service questions from a technical perspective as well as have a grasp on key community topics such as SEO, content, and crisis.

Lea Marino studied Public Relations in college. Post-graduation, she worked for a digital agency, app start ups, and social media agencies. This made her a powerful communicator.

Nothing’s Perfect Right Away

This goes hand in hand with having a strong background. These panels always help remind me that you won’t find the perfect fit right away. As Topher mentioned “mistakes are great to make,” and you won’t get it right on the first try.

Topher worked in sports marketing for his college’s athletic department and then at the Admissions office of a graduate art school.

Taken from twitter.com/Cycle4Survival.

Taken from twitter.com/Cycle4Survival.

Sahana studied economics in college and specialized in international development. After working as a “boring” management consultant, she realized her passion for people. It was this passion that led her to a career in Community Management!

Lea mentioned a conversation she had with her parents post-graduation regarding her internship experience. As a PR graduate who disliked any

internship she had, she worried that she wouldn’t find a job she would enjoy. She worked at a digital agency spent time with small start up companies, but she found her niche in social media. She used her PR skills and utilized social media as the perfect outlet to become a gatekeeper.

The Right Type of Person

Another trend amongst panelists (past and present) became clear–all seemed to posses an impressive amount of skills that allow them to be successful. They each mentioned what skills and traits are the most important for a successful Community Manager.

Jen: “you have to have the ability to make decisions quickly. If you don’t know the answer, you have to figure it out.”

Lea: you need to understand how to communicate digitally, and you must be empathetic. You have to understand “what’s being said behind the

Taken from Moz.com

Taken from Moz.com

words”.

Sahana: you need to have the “ability to receive feedback well, take it, and do something with it”.

Topher: “energy is hugely important” and you need to show that you can take challenges to know how to balance certain situations.

A successful CM is the perfect combination of skills, personality, and a strong, diverse background. It may not be for everyone, but if the hat fits, wear it! 

Key Factors in Building a Community

One of the articles from this week had a quote that really stuck with me. “You can’t spark a community by wanting to spark a community no more than you could start a fire by wanting to start a fire.” You can’t just decide you want a community. You need to know why you’re starting one and who you’re dealing with before you can eventually gather the wood to make it happen. There are a few key factors that should be considered when starting a community from the ground and building it to become something great.

Have a Plan

As stated earlier, you really need to be prepared. First, you have to determine if your brand or product (or topic) is even meant to have a community surrounding it. It very well may be that your community is better left as a two way conversation rather than a group of people with common interests. Once you determine if a community is right for you, you have to decide what type of community you will be. This includes all aspects of planning including where your community will exist, how will it work, how often you will post, who your members are, what type of responsibility they will have, and what you will focus your content on.

There are so many factors that go into making a community great, and it’s really important to keep them in mind from the very beginning. An article I found on my own talked about that. Read more here!

Know Your Audience

This is arguably the most important factor in starting a community from scratch. You have to truly understand the audience to determine how to cater to them. According to Buzzing Communities, “the community serves to improve the lives of its members”. Without an audience, your community is nothing—in fact, it’s not even a community! Knowing your audience means:

"Psychographics" are all about understanding what is going on in your audience's heads. Taken from Google Images.

“Psychographics” are all about understanding what is going on in your audience’s heads. Taken from Google Images.

  • Understanding the demographic. Where are they located? How old are they? What do they do for a living? In other words, who are these people?! Determining a demographic is essential to figuring out what the community is going to be like. It helps determine what type of content you’ll be posting as well as how it will be presented. 
  • Understanding their habits. Once you’ve figured out your demographic, you have to get to know them personally. What Internet tools do they use? How often are they online? What do they do when they’re online? This allows you to create habits and a schedule based on theirs. Once you track activity, you can find peak hours of engagement and know when to strike!
  • Understanding their wants/needs. Buzzing Communities says, “a community manager does not change someone’s values or attitudes. Community managers identify what people are interested in and build a community around those interests.” This is very important. You can’t tell people how to think or feel, but you can cater your information and content to how they feel.

Build it Brick By Brick

How can you gather this information? It’s easier than you think! When you’re just starting out as a new community, getting to know your members is crucial. You have to take it one person at a time. You can learn more about them by talking to them personally! Of course, you can use metrics and analytics to gather information, but

Build a community brick by brick, and you'll have something really solid. Taken from http://thecommunitymanager.com/2012/02/07/how-to-build-a-community-from-scratch/.

Build a community brick by brick, and you’ll have something really solid. Taken from http://thecommunitymanager.com/2012/02/07/how-to-build-a-community-from-scratch/.

why not talk to people one-on-one? If you actually interview your first few members, you can gather a sample for your target audience and use it to make goals! For example, you need to know your audience and look at each individually to understand what type of role they will play in the community. Will they be posting content or simply responding to posts and activity? Are some of them potential moderators?

Buckle Up! 

It’s not going to be easy! Being a Community Manager is a 24/7 job, and, especially when starting out, it’s going to take a lot of time, energy, and dedication.

Amber Rinehard: Community Manager at Uber

For our midterm, I decided to interview a Syracuse University graduate, Amber Rinehard, a Community Manager at Uber in D.C. Because of technical issues (I fell down the stairs with my computer), I emailed Amber a list of questions in case I wasn’t able to have the chance for a video chat. Luckily, I was able to get in touch with her later in the week for a quick video follow-up! Although my video was present during the call, it did not appear in the YouTube video. She was incredibly patient with my technical problems, and it was great to meet and learn more about her!

What is Uber?

Uber is a service that exists as an app for smartphones that will connect you with a taxi, town car, or SUV on-demand with the touch of a button. Once you request a ride, a driver will pick you up within 5-10 minutes. Your credit card information is loaded into the app, so you don’t have to worry about exchanging cash with a driver.

The Uber Community

According to Amber, the community is made up of people who are very excited about the product. The service is for anyone, so the community is endless. As we have learned throughout the semester and from our guests in the panels, “just because you have 100,000 users doesn’t mean they’re all engaged.” In all of my questions about the community, there was never a concrete answer about the community itself, it sounds more like an audience of users.

Community Management at Uber

A day in the life of a CM at Uber seems to be incredibly hectic. The beginning of the day is spent handling customer support tickets and the second half is spent coming up with ideas for marketing. Additionally, the CMs take turns managing the social media accounts as the company has no Social Media Managers. The DC office at Uber has eight Community Managers, and they are looking to hire even more.

Uber uses GPS to show you the closest available driver. Taken from http://www.consumergrind.com/technology/uber-personal-driver/.

Uber uses GPS to show you the closest available driver. Taken from http://www.consumergrind.com/technology/uber-personal-driver/.

Our Midterm asks us to think about “What would I change?”

The Position

There are 8 Community Managers at Uber DC. In New York, there are 13-15. Additionally, there are no Social Media Managers. The CM team is responsible for just about everything. For a service of this size, and also for one that is growing so rapidly, I’d definitely suggest at least making the position titles and responsibilities more specific. If there are multiple managers, I doubt they all do the exact same thing.

Perhaps the job could be split into the following specific positions or teams:

  • Social Media Manager
  • Customer Support
  • Marketing
  • Creative Team
  • Community Manager
  • Event Coordinator

The Community

There is potential for a much greater community than currently exists for Uber. Whenever the community was discussed in the interview, it always seemed like users were simply treated as customers on an individual basis. I understand that the product is universal–anyone who needs a ride can find one–but the community experience should be much deeper than that. I’m not sure that the company has truly established what type of community it should have.

Two companies stand out in my mind for great community management: Grouper and Lyft.

  1. LyftLyft is service much like Uber allows people to request a ride from their smartphone. Uber seems to be more of an elite type of service while Lyft allows anyone to be a driver (it’s more of a ride-sharing program). You can spot a Lyft driver from anywhere because they have a giant pink mustache attached to the front of their car. It may seem silly, but it’s eye-catching, and it allows for great branding. People post constantly on Twitter and Instagram after simply seeing one of these vehicles. It gets people talking, and more importantly, it gets them interested in the service. There seems to be more of a need for a community surrounding this service than for there is for Uber.

    The pink mustache is an immediate sign that this car is Lyft-friendly! Taken from Google Images.

    The pink mustache is an immediate sign that this car is Lyft-friendly! Taken from Google Images.

  2. GrouperGrouper is a great example of how you can take something that may not have a strong “community” around it and turn it into a community-based service. Grouper is an social group-dating site, but it doesn’t stop there. They encourage people to post pictures from their group dates on Instagram so they may be featured on the website. Additionally, they utilize User Generated Content by allowing guest writers to blog about their experiences.

    A sample of Instagram photos featured on Grouper's website.

    A sample of Instagram photos featured on Grouper’s website.

Uber is an great service with incredible potential for a greater community. Hopefully some of this insight will allow them to find it.

Moderation Week: The Best Lessons

There’s only so much you can learn from books and articles. Life’s greatest lessons come from experience. At first, I was nervous to start my week as the CMGRclass Moderator, but I became more excited when I began to realize that it would help me truly grasp the feeling of being a Community Manager. My most important lessons and takeaways from the week are below.

Content

I was lucky enough to have a great topic to work with for the week. So far, we’ve learned about the factors that go into making a community great, but you can’t even get to that point until you learn how to start a community from scratch. I was able to discuss a wide range of topics, because anything related to making a community stronger has to be considered from the very beginning! I enjoyed all of the articles from this week as well as the chapter in Buzzing Communities, so I had a great time leading discussions on the topic.

Engagement

Getting community members engaged is more complex than most people think. You read about it in articles and class readings, but as a moderator, you experience it first-hand. Here are the three things I learned about engagement this week:

  • One of my posts from this week received 1 comment (a week after it was posted).

    One of my posts from this week received 1 comment (a week after it was posted).

    Learn from previous posts. Some of your posts are going to get a lot of activity, and some are going to be left alone. Learn from it! Track the type of posts that generate conversation and engagement, and craft the rest of your content to match.

  • Get a conversation going. You’re more likely to get people engaged if you ask them a question or spark a conversation. Once you have a few comments on a post, I noticed that the flow of conversation really started to move itself. When someone reacts to a post, you comment back as a Moderator, and other members become even more interested in joining the conversation.
    .
  • It isn’t going to be easy. Learning the ropes definitely takes time. I struggled with getting people to react and engage–and this was a group of people who needed to participate in order to earn a grade! I can’t even imagine how much effort goes in to getting members engaged in a community where participation isn’t obligated.

Across All Platforms

My conversation with @allygreer was the only Twitter activity for the week.

My conversation with @allygreer was the only Twitter activity for the week.

“Should a brand be equally active across both channels or try to cater their content to where the audience is?” One of my posts on the page led to a discussion about posting content across all platforms, and this helped show me that it isn’t as easy as it seems. I feel as though one platform may be more established than others and, by nature, most members will flock and feel most comfortable there. Take our class for example. The moderators and professors post content on three different platforms: Google+, Twitter, and WordPress.

If you track the activity of the semester thus far, most engagement occurs in the Google+ group. This surprises me because I assume that most class members are using this platform for the first time (myself included). As young college students, I would expect there to be more engagement on Twitter, a site we all use daily. I’m even surprising myself! Also, even though we are required to post weekly on the blogs, we aren’t commenting on them or getting engaged with posts written by others. The only activity I had on Twitter was with Ally Greer, a CM for Scoopit and a CMGRclass panel guest! I only tweeted a few times, but, because the posts didn’t receive much activity, I didn’t want to bombard the account with Tweets that weren’t generating any feedback.

Top Moment

I posted twice in one day. My first post was a question related to one of the readings from this week. It received no attention. Soon after, I sparked a conversation with a real-life scenario about my a cappella group, Groovestand. It was kind of a “what would you do?” type of situation, and the class reacted well to it! It was only a few people, but there were over 15 comments on the post, and it was a real conversation.

The topic was something that a few people could relate to but, even if it wasn’t, I think people really reacted well to a scenario that made them think and asked for their advice on a real topic. It was great, because everyone used things we’ve learned from the class as well as information they had prior, and I really learned a lot from them.

Struggles

Personally, I was having a rough week. My schedule was ten times more hectic than usual, and even personal issues had me in an off mood. I tried to make sure that my personal life wouldn’t get in the way of what I had to do as a professional (because that’s how I was treating it). It was important to me that my own feelings didn’t affect the content I was putting out or the way I was behaving to the group.

I learned that being a CM is a 24/7 job. You have to be on your toes for everything, and it’s up to you to get conversations going and continuing to flow! I had a great time being a Moderator for this class, and it opened my eyes to how important getting engaged is for the class. This is the best I’ve felt thus far in this class, and now I’m ready to take the rest of the semester head on. All in all, this week was the best lesson I could ask for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People who participated this week:

– Jaime Manela
– Zachary J Prutzman
– Aashmeeta Yogiraj

Gold Stars
Hannah Nast
– Ben Glidden

– Anne Suchanek

– Andra Kenner
– Jess McDonald
– Katie Lemanczyk

 

Panel Highlights: Communities are Unique

In this week’s panel, we were introduced to three experts–David Yarus (MRY), Morgan Johnston (JetBlue), and Nick Cicero (LiveFyre). Throughout the panel, each offered insight and shared experiences from their respective companies. Insights from this panel, as well as the material I’ve learned in the course thus far, have allowed me to draw a conclusion about community management: communities are unique, so Community Managers must be unique as well.

COMMUNITIES ARE UNIQUE

Most of the experts’ responses to Jenn’s questions were prefaced with “it depends on the type of organization you have” or “it depends on the types of roles and responsibilities you have”. It became very clear that this panel would be unique–we were hearing from three very different companies and, therefore, three very different Community Managers.

Here’s where we see some differences:

Structure — team set-up will vary across organizations. The idea of role clarity came up a few times in the chat. Important positions are becoming more identifiable, but role definitions still vary across organizations. Some organizations will have a few community managers working in a small department while others will devote several departments to social and the community.

  • MRY has many teams working together: Distribution, Creative, Strategy, and Analytics. The CMs work with all of these teams to focus on a broad spectrum of tasks including developing strategies, writing posts, and monitoring activity. All activity is sent through legal for approval (if needed), and all content is sent through analytics to track success and impact.
  • Jet Blue handles social via three teams. Corporate Communications, where Morgan lives, owns all narrative and storytelling responsibilities and has about 3 people. The Marketing/Commercial team takes those ideas and figures out how to come up with content that ties stories together. Customer Support handles all day-to-day engagement on social platforms and redirects social communication within the organization and has about 26 people.
  • LiveFyre has three main teams at play: Marketing, Strategy, and Customer Service. The Customer Service team deals with issues regarding LiveFyre, while marketing and strategy work to create campaigns and brand awareness for outside companies. The community manager is a community manager for other community managers (wow).

Content – In order to stay successful, organizations must post the content that makes sense for them. We’ve learned that not all strategies are beneficial for all organization. Each is after something very specific, and the Community Member must match that with his or her strategies.

JetBlue handles a customer issue. Taken from twitter.com/jetblue

JetBlue handles a customer issue. Taken from twitter.com/jetblue

  • MRY and LiveFyre are in a similar boat because they both must focus on creating campaigns, developing strategies, and being advocates for other companies. Their main content is not specific to each of their organizations but rather on promoting and managing the content of other sites.
  • Jet Blue, on the other hand, is incredibly customer service oriented, and they must be in order to stay successful. Most of the content monitored by the community management team promotes the service and handles customer issues.

Crisis – It’s clear that all organizations will face some sort of crisis that will require managing. Crisis definition will be different across all companies, and the means for going about crisis management will vary as well.

  • MRY: A “crisis” would occur when a student ambassador posts premature content on his or her Twitter page in which the mother corporation does not approve. Crisis management at a company dealing with young people is simple because David “treats people like people”. A simple text will clear up the situation.
  • LiveFyre: LiveFyre is unique because the CM team must stay on its toes to handle crises of multiple organizations. The crisis he discussed was an overflow of negative comments on the page focusing on hatred towards Subway and Michael Vick. In the end, they had to remove certain comments and were asked to stop communicating with the community until certain information was cleared up.
  • Jet Blue: For Jet Blue, crisis management is crucial. Jet Blue has established enough credibility to get away with certain crisis management strategies. They have been upfront enough with their customers in the past and gained a sense of trust. Because of that trust, they are able to say “we’re transparent, and we’d love to be transparent, but sometimes, we can’t give you all of the information you want to hear.”

BUT IT’S ALL THE SAME

Don’t get me wrong, it’s all still fairly similar! While specifics are going to vary, the overall concept will be the same for all. You have to do things that will make your community happy and keep your members coming back for more. The same structure or strategy won’t work for every single organization, and there is no right answer. You must have a strong knowledge of the type of organization you are as well as the type of community you have in order to understand the kind of Community Manager you need to be.

Social Media and Community Management: Why the Difference Matters

Throughout the semester, I’ve struggled with the true definition of Community Management. What is a community? What are the responsibilities of a Community Manager? When I finally thought I understood the concept, another wrench was thrown into the equation. I began to notice that I couldn’t get through an explanation of community management without mentioning social media. Are they the same thing?

What’s the Difference?

An article on The Community Manager explained it best. If you are a Social Media Manager, your main priority is getting your members to engage with the brand. Community Managers focus more on getting members engaged with each other.

Social Media: people interacting with the brand.

Social Media: people interacting with the brand.

Social Media Management

Social Media Managers are responsible for managing social accounts, giving users a person to talk to, and getting people interested in a product. If he or she is successful, the brand will gain a strong following and users will respond to posts consistently. Social Media gives consumers the opportunity to be a part of a two way conversation.

A community should consist of one conversation between all users.

A community should consist of one conversation between all users.

Community Management

Community Managers are responsible for getting a conversation started between a group of people. If he or she is successful, the community will flourish–fans will become members and members will become ambassadors to the community. If you manage a community, you are the voice of not only the brand, but also of the community. You’re there to start a discussion and engage, but you are more likely to sit back and watch users engage with each other than be the primary source of content.

Why Knowing the Difference is Important

 It’s beneficial for you.

When applying for jobs, it is crucial for you to understand your skill set and what you are able to offer a company. Understanding the responsibilities of each position will allow you to see which position is right for you. A person who has experience in managing social accounts and is applying to be a Community Manager may not be on the right track. Additionally, if you’re looking into a company who has a position titled “Social Media Community Manager,” you can avoid working for someone who does not understand the difference and save yourself from biting off more than you can chew.

It’s beneficial for a company.

An organization can really benefit from the two position being separate. When the positions are combined into one, brands/organizations are not utilizing their staff to their greatest potential. Once every company understands the difference between a social media manager and a community manager, they can hire accordingly.  It’s too much for one person to handle! If a Community Manager is responsible for managing the Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, and Google+ account, he or she probably is not utilizing their talents. Think of how much more engaged a person can be if they focus their energy on something specific. The Social Media Manager is responsible for maintaining the accounts and communicating with consumers and the Community Manager is responsible for extending those discussions even further into a community format.

work-togetherThe two should work together.

There’s a reason why the difference between Community Management and Social Media Management is a common misconception. They are often thought of as one position because the two have a strong relationship and must work well together. The community manager is responsible for keeping members engaged, not only with the brand, but with each other. This can only happen with the help of social media and the social media manager. If the brand doesn’t have a strong enough following, it will be nearly impossible for the community to grow.

 

While I’m sure there is much more to learn, I’m glad I finally have a sense of the difference between these two important positions. What articles have helped you grasp the concept?

User Generated Content: Who’s Doing it Right?

User Generated Content (UGC) is crucial for the success of most blogs and websites, especially those that are community-based. To put it simply, UGC is content that is contributed by non-moderators of a site–it may include images, videos, guest posts, product reviews, and more.

Who’s doing it right?

When creating a blog, you have to establish whether or not you will incorporate UGC. Sites with a large following would benefit from UGC–it creates a stronger sense of community among the followers! Giving your members the opportunity to contribute allows them to feel like they are a true part of the community and not simply reading or watching from the outside. Let’s take a look at some brands and communities who have successfully incorporated UGC into their sites/communities.

Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

http://www.latenightwithjimmyfallon.com/hashtags/

http://www.latenightwithjimmyfallon.com/hashtags/

What are they doing?
Late Night relies heavily on community interaction via various social media platforms. The show (and website) uses many forms of UGC, but the most prominent is “Late Night Hashtags”. Each Wednesday, Jimmy Fallon creates a hashtag and asks followers to tweet based on that topic. The following Wednesday, his favorite tweets are read aloud in a segment called “Late Night Hashtags”. This content is also posted online.

Why is it successful?
When someone sends a tweet to @LateNightJimmy, his or her followers can see it. With just one tweet, the show is reaching a wider audience than the night before. Also, the use of a common hashtag gives the show the opportunity to trend nationally (which happens almost every week). Now, even more people can see the hashtag and participate if they’d like.

Our book in class, “Buzzing Communities” discussed community blogs acting as local newspapers. Mentioning specific people is a great way to make members feel like an important aspect of the community. The “Late Night Hashtags” segment displays personal Twitter handles which encourages people to participate week-by-week. When followers tweet using the hashtag, they are more likely to watch the show that night to see if they will be mentioned on-air.

Content category repetition is also a great tool for any blog. Repetition allows your audience to know what’s coming. Followers of Late Night can expect a new hashtag announcement every Wednesday.

NOTE: While Jimmy Fallon may be a television show, his community and presence online is very strong. Online brands can learn a lot from his team’s use of UGC.

Free People

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On www.freepeople.com, customers help sell the clothing!

What are they doing?
Free People is receiving high praise for its recent campaign. They asked customers to post photos of themselves wearing Free People clothing on Instagram. Each picture is tagged with the clothing item’s name (given by the website), and the photos are featured on their website underneath that article of clothing.

Why is it successful?
The pictures are linked from each customer’s Instagram profile. When anyone visits the site and “likes” one of the pictures, it gets sent directly to that person’s account. This is a way to reward members for participating and for buying their products. The site promotes personal profiles and the photos promote the site. Everybody wins!

Being featured on the site allows featured customers to feel like they are a part of the brand. They are no longer simply buying the products… they’re helping to sell them!

More UGC-friendly Sites

Check out the following links for more sites I found using UGC to their advantage:

1. Steam – Gaming Community
2. Major League Baseball

Now that you know what to look out for, check out the sites you visit most frequently and see if they are using UGC (and if they are successful)! What are some of the sites you found?

 

Community Panel Highlights

On Tuesday, September 24th, our class had the opportunity to participate in a Google Hangout with Ally Greer, Community Manager at Scoopit, and Sean Keeley, the creator of the Syracuse Orange sports blog, Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician. The panel allowed us to put all of the content we’ve learned thus far into real-life perspective. It was interesting hearing two different sides of Community Management from people representing two very different communities.

“I Write For Myself”

Sean Keeley doesn’t spend too much time worrying about what his audience wants to read. Instead, he created a blog that he would want to read. It’s a good strategy, and it clearly yields results. However, there’s no way to know for sure if this method will work for everyone. This is successful for Sean because he knows his audience, and he considers himself to be a reflection of his members.

Instead of assuming what people want to read, community managers have to do some research. See which of your posts are the most successful and craft future posts to match. Look into your community–who are they? What are they interested in? How can you cater to them?

"Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician" taken from www.nunesmagician.com

“Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician” taken from www.nunesmagician.com

All Shapes and Sizes

Community Managers are, in a way, a direct reflection of the site. Scoopit and TNIAAM are very different sites which, because of this, warrant two very different Community Managers. Scoopit is a site all about people sharing content. TNIAAM is first and foremost a news outlet for Syracuse sports fans. While one may gather more user generated content than the other, both are heavily focused around a community. For TNIAAM, the community is specific: Syracuse sports fans with the occasional lovers of all-things-college-sports. Scoopit is for anyone, and the site can be used differently for each member.

This just goes to show how much effort needs to be put in as a CM. You have to really understand who your members are so you can decide what kind of site you’re going to be. Community is a huge part of a site’s success and, in a way, the community builds your site. They decide what goes on it and what happens next. Understanding your community will be your best tool.

Scoop.it! logo taken from www.scoopit.com

Scoop.it! logo taken from www.scoopit.com

Size vs. Strength

This was a common theme throughout Tuesday’s panel. When Ally said, “just because you have 100,000 users doesn’t necessarily mean you have 100,000 users”, it really stuck with me. Sean also mentioned that he liked the name of his blog because it acted almost as a code-word that only few understood. The blog and community itself had a sense of exclusivity to it, and Sean thought that added to the site’s appeal. So what’s more important? Do you focus on increasing the number of members in your community, or should you put your energy into creating a stronger community within the few members you currently have?

Taken from www.socialmediatoday.com

Taken from www.socialmediatoday.com

In my opinion, the strength of the community should be the priority. If you ensure that members are engaged and participating in conversations, your community has a greater opportunity to grow. People will be more excited about joining a community if they know that it has already been established and has a strong following.

My a cappella group, Groovestand, tries to stay very active on social media. We currently have over 700 likes on Facebook and are reaching for 1,000 by the end of the semester. While this is an ambitious goal, the panel and the readings we’ve covered thus far have made me think about bettering our content strategies and creating a more engaged audience before we worry about making the number of uninvolved people larger. We want our community to grow, but in this case, strength may be more important.