Community management is hard.
I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be when I went into it. I’ve been involved in social media (and dabbling in community management) since my freshman year of college, when I started managing Twitter for the SU chapter of PRSSA. Since then, I’ve managed social media for many different startups, crafted tons of social media strategy plans for classes and projects, and, most importantly, been a part of the SU social media team 44Social for three years.
When I sat down to start doing community management for this class, I thought it would be a piece of cake. I work anywhere from 8-15 hours for SU each week; social media is a part of my routine. I kept wanting to compare my 44Social experiences to managing this Google+ group, when in reality, they’re completely different. When I sit down for a 44Social shift, it has my attention (or at least my divided attention, if I’m working on other projects for the team) for three hours. Managing this community, however, was a 24/7 job. Managing the community, on top of schoolwork and exams, plus being home for Easter, was a major feat. Sometimes I would dismiss the notifications on my phone vowing to answer in five minutes, and forget about it for eight hours.
Here’s what I learned from my week spent managing the Google+ community:
- Make time: In a real-life situation, you’re going to want to monitor the community in as close to real-time as possible, because that’s when the conversation is happening. Carving a couple dedicated chunks of time into your day to check and respond to your community is crucial. You can’t rely on yourself to do it on the fly.
- Medium is key: I’m probably not the first person to say this: I hate Google+. I’m terrible at navigating it, I hate that notifications pop up when I’m on my Gmail (when I’m on my email, I’m trying to get something done, not be distracted by a notification), and there’s no native way to schedule posts. That being said, I would probably choose a different medium if this were my community, but sometimes you have to suck it up and learn how to make it work for you. Also, it was way too easy to forget that we had another community happening on Twitter, so that fell by the wayside during the week.
- Find a content source: I started trying to just find content that was interesting on the fly by scrolling through my Twitter feed. My Twitter feed is an odd mix of reality stars, PR pros, high school friends and motivational ACL reconstruction accounts (don’t ask). It’s better to find a couple hashtags or create a list of accounts that you can go to for content in a pinch.
Some of this I learned through 44Social and managing other communities, but I forgot how important they were (shows how easily we can slip into patterns and forget lessons learned). Overall, my community manager experience was definitely an interesting one, and I’m definitely glad to get another shot at it this week and apply some of the things I learned.