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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?

How to Build an Army of Brand Ambassadors – Tips from the #CMGRClass Panel

When a musician or actor gets on stage to accept a big award, they often make it a point to thank their fans. Some even go as far as to say I’m nothing without my fans. This statement can also be applied to brands because they, as well, are nothing without their fans.

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 6.30.33 PM

This week #CMGRClass held a online panel over Google+. We were lucky enough to have apanel of experts from four companies: Gavin O’Hara from Lenovo, Alexandra Dao from Vimeo, Caira Conner from PolicyMic, and Tracey Churray from Foursquare. One of the biggest themes I saw emerge from this discussion was the need to build and nurture a community of super fans, otherwise known as brand ambassadors.

Know Your Community

The first step to building an army of brand ambassadors is to get to know your community. A lot of the community managers during this panel said that community for them started out as customer service and support. They needed to answer all the tweets when customers had problems, and soon community and support melded together. Each of these community managers had to go where their customers were and be available to them through these social sites. After spending all this time interacting with their consumers, they really got to know them inside and out.

getsatisfaction.com

getsatisfaction.com

Connect Your Community to Each Other

Tracey Churray explained that Foursquare recently launched a forum for their superusers. This mutually beneficial project allows about 40,000 of Foursquare’s most involved users to have an equal baseline of knowledge of the service, and chat with each other. This forum allows the users to connect with each other and bond, but also increases chatter about the service. This thus creates a greater brand loyalty to Foursquare in general because it is constantly the topic of conversation. Foursquare also has three levels of superusers, that all lead up to the hand chosen SU3s who actually get to interact with the Foursquare engineers.

aboutfoursquare.com

aboutfoursquare.com

Help Yourself

Foursquare sometimes taps into this loyal community to get feedback about how the service is functioning in different parts of the world. One of my favorite stories from the panel was when Tracey discussed how Foursquare contacted the superusers to improve the “Chinese Restaurants” tab of Foursquare locations in different parts of the world. Chinese restaurants as we know them in America take on a different meaning in China, and Foursquare was able to talk to their users about what categories of Chinese restaurants are necessary to have in each country. This made the service more targeted and meaningful in each part of the world, and was all made possible by the suggestions of their superusers.

Situations like this get users involved in the creative process and make them feel like valuable assets of the company. Gavin harped on this point by saying “casual exchanges make [users] feel like they are peeking behind a veil and are a part of something bigger.”

Even further than this, the panelists encouraged Gavin’s nurturing of a superuser community by providing examples within their own community. Vimeo offers around the clock customer service to their premium users, and makes it a point to hightlight 5 to 6 user videos each day. Another panelist said, “Don’t be afraid to give them some inside information, before you release things (people don’t like change after launch). They are often very excited and own it because they are a part of it.”

Bring Your Community Offline

The last important aspect of a superstar brand ambassador program that the panelists brought up, was the need to bring any online connections offline, to really solidify them. Creating and encouraging opportunities for the community members to connection offline with each other, as well as you, really allows people to connect on a human level. Gavin jokingly commented that “We need to throw parties,” and although he presented this in a joking way, the message still stands. Tweeting, emailing, and Facebooking are all nice, but your job is to manage a community of people, so you must treat them as such. Brand loyalty stems from this feeling of connection and unity.

What do you think about these tips for building a brand army? What brands do you think have the best “superuser” programs? Let me know in the comments below!

Knowing your Community: #CMGRClass Panel

This week I was able to sit in on a panel with four active Community Managers. It was a great conversation discussing the types of communities and engagement tactics used in their day-to-day work.

What was especially interesting was even though every person fell under the umbrella of community management, they had very different roles and objectives in comparison. Each focused on different categories of community management, such as content management, support, moderation and engagement. These distinctions seemed to be formed by the industry, brand’s strategic objectives, and the nature of the community.

Vimeo Staff Picks Banner, a curated channel for members

Vimeo Staff Picks Banner, a curated channel for members

For example, the tech manufacturer Lenovo’s community has a different atmosphere than Vimeo’s. People who are a member of Vimeo’s community are most likely passionate about producing creative content, or enjoy consuming creative content. This community has different values and ways of interacting than the tech-focused Lenovo community. The differences in the needs and values have an impact on how a community manager encourages engagement.

Gavin O’Hara from Lenovo drove this point home even further: “The first rule of community management could easily be knowing your audience…first, who is your audience in broad strokes, and then you dig deeper… you can’t define your audience by one set of people” This point was a common theme that persisted through the panel, all of the panelists seemed to agree of the importance of listening to your community, despite the industry.

 

Vimeo

Alex Dao is part of of a community team of 22 personnel, that works congruently on interconnected layers of the Vimeo community. They have many opportunities for members to participate in the community, holding events, weekend challenges, distributing lessons, and curating channels with highlighted videos in addition to support and social media interactions. This is a great example of engaging all streams of a community, with knowing what niche groups would enjoy engaging in a certain way.

 

PolicyMic

In contrast, Cara Conner manages her community solo, concentrating on twitter chats, email, outreach, and PolicyMic’s new fellowship. This fellowship is a part of the transition of PolicyMic from thought leaders to more regular, young journalists. She hopes that the fellowship shifts the focus from web traffic to the voice and stories of the target audience of PolicyMic—Millennials. In that way the fellows are the brand ambassadors, the actual voice of the community.

 

Few posts on Lenovo's blog

Few posts on Lenovo’s blog

Lenovo

Gavin O’Hara has been with Lenovo’s community from the start, growing the twitter following from 3,000 to about 2 million. He attributes trial and error a large part of the journey, but has a good handle on his community now. Something I found intriguing about the Lenovo community were the special Facebook group set up for the committed members of the brand. This group rewards the top-tier members by interacting one-on-one with the users, and making them feel like they are a part of something bigger. These tactics of recognizing passionate members of the community creates loyalty in addition to fostering engagement.

 

Foursquare

Foursquare Superuser icons

Tracey Churray of the Foursquare community team focuses more on the support side, and tapping into the community to build a database. Foursquare’s strategy is driven by crowdsourcing users for venue updates and tips, so they have unique relationship (and even reliance) with their community. They also have established a hierarchy within their community, giving increasing levels of power to more involved members. These tiers of Superusers are specially picked, and they get perks such as previews and special editing access. It’s a genius program, and plays well into Foursquare’s gamification M.O. Users are driven to reach the next status level of Superuser, and to reap the rewards.

Takeaways

  • Above all, you must have a clear understand of your community
  • Priority levels based on activity or membership establish loyalty
  • Community Management is not solely social media- creating strong relationships is a result of diverse touch-points

Are you part of a brand community with a hierarchy? Does this inspire you to be more involved in the community?

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)

You’ve Got the Power, Now What? How to Harness Your Influence as a Community Manager

Image citation

“Flat-Pack This. Ikea unfolds its potential in China and Israel..” Industry Leaders Magazine RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Apr. 2014. .

Building is hard work. Building a house is hard work, building a “do-it-yourself” table from IKEA is hard work, even though they tell you it won’t be, and building a community from the ground up is hard work for a community manager. So once you have invested time and energy, and the structure of your community is built, you must use your newfound leadership position wisely.

In chapter five of Buzzing CommunitiesRichard Millington explains how to harness the influence of your community. As well, he exposes the powers of persuasion and divides them into three categories.

  • Content Creation

A big part of contributing to your community is putting out relevant, timely content. You can send news articles out through email, or create a Google+ page like we do for #CMGRClass. I think it is important to note that every community is different and you must find what makes your community unique, and figure out what makes your audience tick.

Overall, one strategy to encourage engagement and bridge the gap between the community manager and the community is highlighting. “You can highlight trends or opportunities within the community and shine the spotlight on members whose actions merit reward” (77). When you highlight your community it allows the individual members to feel special and gives them an opportunity to be heard. It also encourages them to visit the community every day because members love when content is about themselves.

On campus, one of the organization I am involved in has the motto Live With Purpose. This phrase can be adjusted ever so slightly to fit community management and evolve into Write With Purpose. What this phrase means is to use the insights learned about your community to share information and create content users want to read. Don’t just put content out for the sake of sharing. If you share meaningful content, your users will appreciate it and reciprocate with quality content of their own.

  • Administrative Rights

You are probably the admin on all your community’s social network sites, and most if not all community wide emails come from you. Therefore, it is your job to remove people and posts that are not appropriate, or you feel do not positively contribute to the community as a whole. Now, this is a large burden to bear, but it is a necessary one. Communities can easily get off track, or be filled with negativity if somebody is not there to monitor it all. Who would want to consistently visit a community only adds negativity to their life? You must set a standard for how community members will behave, and lead by example. Millington specifically says that, “The biggest influence upon a member’s behavior is the behavior of other members” (80). The community manager can also grant rights to other members that they deem appropriate.

  • Access to the Company

As both a part of the community, as well as a part of the company from which the community stems, you’ve essentially “Got the Power.” You’ve always got the inside scoop on breaking news, as well as everything going on inside of the organization. You are the liaison between the company and the community, and the expert on whatever topic your community was built upon.

You also must be passionate about your community. You should be passionate about the topic of your community, but also passionate about talking to people. You should want to help your community members connect, as well as make sure they have a positive experience with your brand. Being passionate about something ensures that you will preform to the best of your abilities.

What do you think about Millington’s categories of persuasion? Do you have anything to add to them? Leave your comments down below!

Brand Ambassador Programs: The Key to Any Fan’s Heart (and Connection)

According to GC Marketing Services, a brand ambassador is defined as someone who positively represents the brand; someone who both markets and educates potential customers about that company and their products or services.

TheKeyToMyHeart

http://www.mixedplateblog.com/2010/01/art-mind.html

You’ve probably heard of positions that are similar to brand ambassadors, such as campus representatives or campus influencers, for many of the different brands you know and love; they sound like pretty cool gigs, right? Being involved with your favorite companies and sharing your brand obsession with others, I could dig it.

But, you may be asking yourselves, what is the importance of these brand ambassador programs to fans of that brand? Well, these types of endeavors are important because they increase the connection a brand has with their audiences. How? I’ll prove it to you in three ways, which are mentioned in this article:

  • Membership is exclusive
  • Ambassadors receive direct access to the brand
  • Ownership of the brand is transferred to the ambassadors

1.) Membership is Exclusive 

Believe it or not, it can be quite competitive to be selected as a brand ambassador, for certain companies. Why? Companies want brand ambassadors who are truly dedicated to their company, people who are the cream of the crop. In other words, brands would rather have fewer people who are more connected to their brand than to have more people who are less dedicated to their product or service; it’s more about quality versus quantity.

What does this mean for the fans of that company? If fans are selected to be brand ambassadors, it already increases the meaning of the connection they have with that brand. It means that there is a reciprocal relationship between the audience member and the brand; the brand is important to the fan and the fan is important to the brand. When someone realizes they matter, their engagement with that company is going to infinitely increase.

2.) Ambassadors Receive Direct Access to the Brand

Once selected, brand ambassadors get some pretty cool incentives and access to the brand they love. For example, some contacts with brand executives will be provided, marketing materials and strategies are given, and even free promotional material are received to give out to potential customers.

For someone who is obsessed with a brand, this a dream come true! One can talk to the people who make this brand a success, be involved in discussions with these executives, and be in on, and ahead, of the products and services the brand is producing.

http://cheaptravelcodes.com/ethical-marketing-and-brand-ambassadors/

http://cheaptravelcodes.com/ethical-marketing-and-brand-ambassadors/

By being up-to-date with their beloved brand, any audience member would have a more meaningful experience, through the brand ambassador program.

3.) Ownership of the Program is Transferred to the Ambassadors

While being an ambassador may not seem like a position of authority, it has the potential to be. An ambassador is someone representing a brand; someone who is innovative, dedicated, connected to the brand, and helping to improve the brand by connecting with current and future customers.

Brands and companies are changing their tones; they don’t want their corporate executives to be the people running the ambassador programs. Ultimately, brands want their most passionate customers, the brand ambassadors, to be the ones connecting to other customers; brands are realizing that their ambassadors have a lot of potential and influence on members of an audience, ones similar to themselves. Basically, more power is being given to the customers and ambassadors, and to fans of a brand, that is a very cool and powerful thing. brandAmbassador

Recap:

All in all, brand ambassador programs are AWESOME, because they give fans of a company an experience that they never could have gotten otherwise. By being an exclusive member of the brand, getting direct access to the brand’s powerful people and products/services, and eventually being granted ownership of part of the brand, the ambassador program, fans and audiences are gaining influence in the companies they love. Therefore, having more meaningful engagement and experiences with their beloved brands.

In sum, power to the people, customers, and fans. And remember, the way to any fan of your brand’s heart? Make them a brand ambassador, it will be a win-win for everyone involved.

 

 

The First Rule of Ambassador Programs

Tyler Pointing Loop Film

Image via hgbleackley.com

Ever since I deconstructed Fight Club scene-by-scene in an undergraduate film class, it has pulled me back to illustrate various messages over time.

My unyielding love of Fight Club aside, there is a meaningful connection to brand ambassador programs in its storyline.

For those who have seen the film, you might be cringing a bit. How can I use one of the most iconic anti-consumerist artifacts from American pop culture as a blueprint to promote brands? The reason is not to be ironic. I just love Fight Club.

For those who have not seen it, IMDb sums up the plot of Fight Club nicely by stating, “An insomniac office worker looking for a way to change his life crosses paths with a devil-may-care soap maker and they form an underground fight club that evolves into something much, much more.”

Anyone who is considering creating a brand ambassador program might like these three take-aways from this 1999 classic:

Image by IMBd.com

Image by IMBd.com

1.       By emphasizing exclusivity, you create zealots. And, that’s a good thing for a brand ambassador program. The film’s most quoteworthy scene outlines the rules. “The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club.” By emphasizing how exclusive this group is, the founding 15 or so members who were sworn to silence could not help but share how cool it was.The MackCollier.com article 10 Things to Remember When Creating a Brand Ambassador Program recommends you make membership exclusive.

In order to have an ambassador program, you need to recruit a select group of participants. With that role, their words carry weight when talking to others.

2.       Plug your ambassadors smack-dab into your brand (the seventh tip in the article I mentioned). By the time that Fight Club members had passed their initiation, they were completely integrated into the community and ready to roll. Note: your brand might want to go about this onboarding process in a less intense manner that they did in the film.

3.       Your brand ambassador program can fuel future initiatives. The film’s climax shows a well-organized effort called Project Mayhem, which sought to deflate the consumer values the community was against. This initiative was possible because members broke the first two rules not to talk about the club. The brand community that was Fight Club had grown so large and so focused on its mission that it became more like a cult. Craziness aside, it is clear that their goals to grow as a community ultimately provided enough dedicated members to execute Project Mayhem.

How would you choose your brand ambassadors? What would you do if you were armed with a community of ambassadors to back your effort?

Building Loyalty- 4 Brands That are Doing it Right

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Building loyalty should be a priority to create a passionate branded community. In my opinion, it is one of the most important things to keep in mind when developing a strategy. People who are loyal to your brand become advocates and help you to promote the brand and broaden your audience. Having a small community of engaged core fans of the brand will be more valuable than having high visibility and an apathetic audience. When people are truly passionate about the company, the services, or the experience of the brand, it creates a community and is attractive to observers. This is where the role of a Community Managers comes in.

According to Work Smart Lifestyle’s post on strong social brands, to create this loyal following, you must connect with your audience and engage with them. It starts with a good product or service. You have to have a good product or compelling mission first in order for people to buy into your company. If they feel like your company values or brand vision aligns with theirs, they are more likely to champion your brand. This core idea ties into the concept of Lovemarks, where brands transcend the boundaries of a typical service and create a more meaningful connection to the people that follow them. This can be achieved by creating a brand experience and persona, and embodying it through social media outlets, blogs, internal services, and any other consumer touch points. A great brand will exceed expectations and provide value to their community.

Here are a few brands that have a very loyal fanbase:

 

Whole Foods

Whole Foods

Whole Foods, Whole Story

The core values of this grocery market is to provide its shoppers with high quality, organic food. The small grocery community crossed with national chain balances reliability with fresh food and a close community feel. They have established a strong brand identity, to the point where Whole Foods is associated with concrete attributes and characteristics. There is even a certain stigma of the people that shop at Whole Foods, though this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Whole Foods perpetuates the local, friendly community through their blog. They appeal to that niche target market and write posts on healthy, organic recipes. The website highlights issues such as sustainability, equal trade, and local community. In addition, the Co-CEO’s have blogs that support the vision, and sustain Whole Food’s image of a close community. Whole Foods uses blogging as a way to channel the mission of the organization and to support the community of Whole Food shoppers.

 

Chipotle

@ChipolteTweets reaches out to a tweeter with a complaint and makes a successful brand interaction

@ChipolteTweets reaches out to a tweeter with a complaint and makes a successful brand interaction

Chipotle taps into the trend of conscious fast food. They promote their use of natural ingredients and casual dining to create a brand identity. I know people who are obsessed-going to Chipotle is more like an event rather than a meal. Chipotle embodies the down-to-earth brand persona through their interactions on their twitter handle, @ChipolteTweets. They are one of the best companies for responding on twitter, in my opinion. They make everyone feel like their opinions are important to Chipotle, and builds strong relationships. This strategy engages the consumers the and creates loyalty with the fanbase.

 

YouTube

YouTubers on mainstage at VidCon Convention

YouTubers on mainstage at VidCon Convention

YouTube, the video platform, has progressed from the website people used to watch cat videos to a platform that supports rising YouTube personalities. YouTube is dependant on user content and user viewership, but they have become very smart in the way that they encourage loyalty and engagement. They now support content creators, certifying channels that have a large following and high quality content and even supporting them financially. These high-profile vloggers are then given credibility, which supports YouTube’s brand popularity. There is a sort of mutual benefit to the people YouTube chooses to support, and those people become YouTube’s Brand Ambassadors.

There is a definite hierarchy within the YouTube community, based on viewership and connections. The YouTube celebrities encourage viewers to create their own content to achieve YouTube fame, and to keep watching their favorite personalities on YouTube. The loyalty in the YouTube community is most apparent during conventions like Playlist Live and Vidcon, where masses converge from all over to meet their favorite YouTube stars.

 

Starbucks

Starbucks Reward Program App

Starbucks Reward Program App

photo 2 (1) photo 3 (1)

Like Whole foods, there is a stigma of frequent Starbuck consumers. People are crazy in love Starbucks, and this can be half attributed to the products, half to the community created through the love of Starbucks. They do amazingly well on branding and fostering loyalty with consumers.

An example of this is the Starbucks Reward Program, specifically through the app. The app notifies you when you are near your favourite Starbucks locations, and brings up your virtual card which you can scan to pay through the app. When you pay through the app, you are awarded a star, which accumulate to achieve different levels with increased rewards. This app rewards loyalists and enables an easy way for people to become loyal to Starbucks.

 

The New Blog / A Case Study

Blogger Joy Cho putting the finishing touches on her Target collection, via @ohjoy on Instagram

Blogger Joy Cho putting the finishing touches on her Target collection, via @ohjoy on Instagram

Blogger outreach is an important part of community management activities for any brand. There’s nothing more credible than an outside source, especially when that source is a place where thousands of people go solely because they want to.

Recently, I’ve noticed the emergence of Instagram into a pseudo-blog. I follow almost 400 accounts on Instagram, a large portion of which are lifestyle, fashion and event-planning bloggers. Most of them have blogs that tie into their Instagram accounts, but I would venture to guess that, like me, not all their followers read their blog. Their Instagram account becomes a second place where they can showcase their content to followers who maybe just want a few seconds of content in their timeline every day.

Brands need to pay attention to these types of people because while they might not as be as highly-engaged with one blog, they are minimally-engaged with many blogs. This requires a different strategy than, say, just partnering with one blogger. That being said, the same tried-and-true guidelines about bloggers still apply here: you need the right bloggers, the right content, and the right time. Research is key.

via @OhJoy on Instagram

via @OhJoy on Instagram

One of the most interesting blogger outreach efforts I’ve seen recently was a collaboration between blogger/designer Joy Cho (a Syracuse alumna!) and Target. Joy designed an exclusive party collection (Oh Joy for Target), full of bright colors and happy details. Joy is already an accomplished blogger, but instead of relying on her reader base, they expanded to other lifestyle bloggers in a big way. They hosted a brunch in celebration of Oh Joy, and invited several event and lifestyle bloggers to participate.

The brunch was gorgeous in all the right ways, and as you can imagine, totally Instagram-able. The next morning, my feed was filled with images from the brunch, and I didn’t even know that all my favorite Instagram accounts knew each other. Talk about six degrees of separation! Beyond Instagram pictures, there were also several blog posts, all in addition to Joy’s blog posts and Target’s blog posts. And, as a bonus, the brunch was a highly visual event, and Target has been able to re-purpose much of that content on platforms like Pinterest.

via 100 Layer Cake

Bloggers Instagramming, via 100 Layer Cake

This strategy created a ton of different relationships. It created a strong relationship between Oh Joy and Target, who will be creating three other lines for Target this year. This cements the relationship with Oh Joy’s readers and Target. It also creates a relationship between all the bloggers invited to the brunch and Target, who will be much more likely to cover Target launches in the future. Finally, it creates a relationship between all the bloggers’ Instagram followers, who then got a quick taste of the collection in an organic way.

Key takeaways from Target’s Oh Joy strategy:

  • Invest your time: Target’s investment was evident in this blogger outreach, which meant a lot more than simply spamming bloggers with a press release

  • Cast a wide net: Your audience isn’t just paying attention to one thing. They’re paying attention to many things. Make sure you’re hitting many (but with purpose!)

  • The new blog: Blogging isn’t limited to WordPress accounts anymore. Right now, Instagram can act as a blog. Pay attention to the next big thing!

What do you think about Target’s creative Oh Joy blogger outreach?

Think You Got What It Takes To Be A Community Manager? #CMGRClass

During the week of February 24 through March 2, I acted as the moderator for the #CMGRClass’ Google+ Community, as well as the class twitter account. Throughout this time, I learned many valuable lesson, but also had a lot of fun! The main theme of the week was SEO & inbound Marketing, and although I didn’t really have much experience in this topic, or moderating nonetheless, I jumped right in!

My Research

Before beginning my week as the CMGRclass moderator, I decided to research the roles and responsibilities of a community manager. I looked to one of our class books Buzzing Communities, written by Richard Millington, and found that it is important to always encourage participation by directly or indirectly stimulating and sustaining activity within the community.

I also looked to the experts to see how they manage communities much larger than the one I would be working with. The Huffington Post handles 70+ million comments a year without collapsing, so I made the executive decision to look to them as an expert in the field. One of the main points this established company made was to create “a safe, enjoyable space, and help people find content that is relevant to them.” I tried to apply this motto to my week as a moderator for the CMGRclass community.

My Content

One of my top priorities for the week was to contribute appropriate and meaningful content. I tried to post a timely, relevant, or just fun news article every day in order to spur conversation. After seeing some of my fellow classmates do their parts as moderators for previous weeks, I thought I had an idea of what kind of content to post. I started off by jumping off the topic of SEO, and shared with the class the article 20 Free Social Media Monitoring Tools You Should be Using. Many students shared what tools they use currently for managing different social accounts, as well as what they hope to try out in the future.

As well, early in the week I posted an article that focused on the similarities between design and community. I was shocked to get such a thought out response to this article by an alumnae of the class, Steve Rhinehart. Although many other classmates did not respond to this post, I think the thoughtfulness of Steve’s response made me feel like this post was successful.

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Some of the twitter activity during my time as moderator

One of my favorite moments from the week was the conversation around the change in tagline from “Got Milk” to “Milk Life.” Although this did not directly relate to the topic of the week, we are always discussing brands, and I thought this was a big change for an iconic brand. I liked that my classmates shared their opinions and then even offered a solution for the brand to evolve without alienating their current market. I think this exemplified how a community can work together to solve problems.

During the week, I also started tweeting from the #CMGRclass twitter handle. During this time I tried to share our internal conversation with the online world by using hashtags to attract those with similar interests. During this time the account gained new followers, and one classmate interacted by retweeting and responding to tweets.

At the end of the week, I handed the moderation position over to Elaina Powless, and am excited to see how she leads the discussion within the #CMGRClass community.

My Community Participants

I was so appreciative of all the contributors I had throughout my week as moderator. Many people put in the time and effort to create thoughtful responses to my posts, as well as contribute their own posts to really enhance the community discussion throughout the week.

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A list of Google+ activity on the Got Milk post

My Reflection

During this process I learned significant lessons about being a community manager, as well as talking to a community of people in general.

  • Community Managers do not get enough credit. I felt myself constantly thinking about what my next post should be, and if people will find it interesting enough to start a conversation about. This makes community management much more than a typical 9-5 job.
  • Relevant content is key. As a writer for InfoSpace, we operate off the basis write what your friends are talking about, as this is what is popular among many groups of friends, as well as what is being searched on the web. I learned that the same principle applied to my time as a community manager, but with a much fast turnover. The posts that seemed to entice many participants were events that were getting a lot of buzz offline as well.
  • Patience is a virtue. Moderating takes patience; patience to find the best content to post, patience for others to see it, and patience for others to respond and even post their own content branching off the topic. I learned to have patience in the process, and that was a hard lesson to learn.
  • “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Not everything I posted to the community stirred up an intense conversation, but that’s okay. If a post didn’t seem to be appealing I would switch to an opposing topic because forcing responses does not create a successful community. I wanted to get to a place where people wanted to respond and thus their responses would be more personal.

What’s Left to Say?

After the whole week, I am still left with a question. I know all communities are not the same, so how do you interact with your community? What are some of the most popular posts? Who are the most active contributors? Let me know in the comments below!