Tag Archive for blogging

Moderation, Round Two

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

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

The Good

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

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

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

The Bad

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

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

In the End

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

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

The 4 Pillars of Blogging: How To Create Excellent Online Content

Blogging is something we are all familiar with; these online discussion sites surround us, as they are used by most people, companies, and different organizations that touch our daily lives. Yet, blogs are also something a little unknown to us, maybe even a little mysterious. Blogging has become habitual to certain professions like community managers, professionals who try to establish communities and discussions around a company, brand, product or service.

So, you may be asking, why am I writing a blog post about blogging? Hey, see what I did there?

Well, because there’s an actual science to creating an excellent blog, a system that community managers follow very closely, in order to retain and attract more active members to their communities. And I don’t know about you, but if I were to start a blog right now, I’m not really sure if I would have the confidence to do so. Therefore, in this article by ProBlogger, the 4 Pillars are laid out to show you how to obtain the essence of blogging, one of the many tasks required of community managers today. And why am I here? Well, I’m going to explain these 4 Pillars to you, so we all can learn something new along the way.

The Four Pillars 

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Tiziani, Eliza. “4 Pillars”. 02 June 2011. Online Image. Flickr. 31 January 2014.

1.) BE USEFUL

There is nothing worse than reading something you think would be relevant to you, but actually provides nothing useful. In order to have a successful blog, you as the writer must provide your audience with information that will be practical in their daily lives.

2.) WRITE GREAT HEADLINES

It’s as simple as this, great headlines attract readers for the things they’re looking for. My example for this post, The 4 Pillars of Blogging: How to Create Excellent Online Content; I came up with this title because it included the phrase “How To.” People are always searching for how to do certain things, therefore this post would have a high probability of catching a reader’s eye. Also, I used numbers; lists are always something that attract readers because it lays out the content in a more organized fashion.

Great headlines improve your blog’s Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, which is basically a fancy term for getting your blog noticed more by search engines. This way, people are more likely to come across your blog post when searching for specific information, and certain phrases allow this to happen. Other phrases to use in headlines include:

  • The Basics of ____
  • ____: What it is and How to Use It
  • __ Steps to Become an Incredible Blogger

3.) MAKE YOUR POST SCANNABLE

In your blog posts, you don’t want paragraphs upon paragraphs of text. Why not? To put it bluntly, nobody is going to read it. People want to be able to open a blog post and scan it for the most pertinent information to them. So, how does one accomplish scannability? In a few different ways:

  • Lists- Like the Four Pillars list that is currently in numbered order
  • Bullets- Like these ones you are currently reading
  • Bolded Items- Like the bolded listed items throughout this post

All these different methods allow for readers to pick out key pieces of information, without having to dig through paragraphs of text. Ultimately, readers are going to really appreciate this and come back to your posts for more incite in the future.

4.) WRITE IN A PLAIN, CONCISE, COMMON-SENSE STYLE

People read blogs for a reason, because of their style. They’re not textbooks or difficult to read manuals, but are articles written like the way we normally talk. Blogs are an opportunity to write in a manner that we normally don’t get the chance to outside the academic or business realms. So, just write how you talk and people will most definitely understand your key points and be wanting to hear more of your voice.

Blogs also allow you to BE YOURSELF. You have a unique voice, so show it!

So, to recap, in order to start a blog with great content just follow the 4 Pillars and you’ll be on your way to blogging success!

Register for #CMGRClass Spring 2014!

The spring semester at Syracuse University starts on January 13th and there are still a few spots left in #CMGRClass. This online course is open to all graduate students and select undergraduates who have a significant interest in community building, online communications, online content, and social media. For undergrads, if you’ve taken #RotoloClass (IST 486) or the Newhouse Social Media Course you’re eligible to take #CMGRClass.  If you haven’t taken either of those courses, but have experience in an internship or student activity you may still join as an undergraduate.

#CMGRClassWhy Take #CMGRclass?

In this online class, you’ll use social media tools first hand and meet a number of professionals who are working on community management and/or social media for some of the best companies out there. This course is broken up into three parts that are designed to help you understand various aspects of community management.
1)  Content Management – Blogging is an art and different than your typical academic writing.   You’ll write blog posts about the topics in this course and learn some of the best content strategies.
2)  Social media – The tools are always changing, but there’s things you’ll walk out understanding such as important metrics and best practices.
3)  Community Building – how do you start a community from scratch?  How can your users help you to generate content? Where do you find your key influencers?

What’s new and exciting about this course?

This isn’t your typical online course. The class meets every other Tuesday at 7pm in a Google+ Hangout and once per month we’ll have guest speakers join us and tell us how they got into their roles and what their jobs are like.  Though if you can’t make the time due to work or other classes, the class is recorded for you to watch at your convenience. Students have the ability to network throughout the semester and they find out about excellent opportunities like internships and careers.

Last semester we had guests from Google Local, Cycle to Survive, MRY, JetBlue, Scoop.it, LiveFyre, Klout, and Moz, and students met community managers from a variety of different industries.

We also don’t use blackboard all too much! #CMGRClass primarily takes place in a Google+ Community group where it’s easier to interact and post fun content.

If you’re curious about this semester’s syllabus you can take a look on this site.  If you want to register, sign up for IST 600 by January 13th (or the add/drop deadline by January 21)!  And of course you can always contact the professors, Jenn Pedde (@JPedde / jmpedde@syr.edu) & Kelly Lux (@Kellylux / kalux@syr.edu) with any questions.

Best Scheduling Practices For Community Managers

Running a community is no easy task, especially when several social media networks are involved. Community management is demanding, and it’s important to meet the needs of community members while also posting relevant content for members to discuss. Because of the various activities that a community manager must keep track of, it’s important to know how to effectively use a calendar.

Author Richard Millington of Buzzing Communities offers the following tips:

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Calendars can get messy! Make sure to use a system that works best for your community

1. Don’t forget about offline content! Although lots of information is online, don’t forget to stay in touch with what’s happening around you physically.  Millington points out that “you can look at both online and offline content produced within the sector to identify…popular categories.”

2. Plan out your weeks – Millington discusses how different categories of news should be posted daily while certain categories of posts can be reused every week. This variation is okay, as long as it is planned out accordingly. Using a calendar to figure out which content should be posted on certain days of the week is helpful when determining to push content.

3. Don’t forget about subcategories – It’s not enough to put that you’re going to talk about something as generic as “news” on a particular day. Millington emphasizes the importance of subcategories, and to be specific when defining posted content. Eliminating ambiguity helps define clearer goals for you and your team.

Although Millington’s tips are helpful, he fails to mention different methods of keeping track of all these tasks. Some helpful tools to keep you in check with all of these tools include:

1. Google Calendar – If you’re an avid fan of Google, have a Gmail account, or like color coded calendars, Google Calendar is a great way to keep track of different schedules. Your calendar can also sync up with your phone which allows you to view and modify your schedule while on the go.

2. Physical Wall Calendar – Lots of companies like to see things written on walls rather than on small computer screens. If you have a lot of space in your office, utilizing the space on a whiteboard can allow you to write all over your schedule, which is something you can’t necessarily do in a digital environment. If you have a wall that you want converted into a large whiteboard space, that can be easier to create than you think!

3. Wiggio – Wiggio is an online calendar that allows you to create events that can also sync with your other calendars. With SMS alerts that keep you on track, you won’t have to worry about what you need to do at each point throughout the day. The calendars can also be viewed by certain groups, which can be incredibly helpful for when you are working with a large team.

Regardless of how you schedule your calendars or the medium in which you choose to update it, it is important to stay organized and stay up to date with the content that needs to be managed within a community. Using the tools and techniques above, you can be well on your way to effectively managing a community!

How do you keep track of scheduling within your community? Do you have other tips or advice? Let us know in the comments below! 

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.

 SEO 

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.

 

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Blogging

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.”

Conclusion

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

Overlaps in Social Media Management and Community Management

This past week we have been reading about community managers and social media managers and the difference between the two. Vanessa DiMauro conveniently charts out the roles that a social media manager has that a community manager doesn’t have. I also read many other articles that pointed out the difference of the two. You can read them here and here.

Although I see the differences, I also see a lot of overlapping. After being a moderator for a week in #CMGRclass and after managing my startups social media accounts, I have some hands on experience. After doing the readings, I keep wondering, “Can you be a social media manager without being a community manager?” and “Can you be a community manager without being a social media manager?”

Below is the chart taken from Vanessa DiMauro’s article “Social Media Manager vs. Online Community Manager: Same or Different?”

B2B Success Measure Role Accountability
Drive leads Social Media Manager Marketing
Raise awareness of products or services Social Media Manager Marketing
Visibility of company, products, services or thought leaders Social Media Manager Marketing
Increase sales Social Media Manager Sales
Event attendance Social Media Manager on public channels, Community manager on community channels Marketing
Customer questions about how to use a product or service Community Manager Customer Service
Learn from customers (e.g. feedback into product development) Community Manager Product Management/R&D
Customer retention / satisfaction Community Manager Sales
Call center reduction/ Improve customers’ ability to get help from each other Community Manager Customer Service
Increase utilization of the products Community Manager Product Management

As you can see, the two roles have different jobs. However, they are also all closely related. For example, once you start to raise awareness of a product or service you will most likely have questions. A lot of these questions will most likely be asked through social media. So, when a customer asks a question through Twitter, who’s role is it to respond? The above chart states that it is a community manager’s role.

A social media manager is constantly checking their social channels and looking at customer’s reactions. They are learning from their customers because they are listening and are aware of patterns. Maybe a “how to” blog post gets more “likes” or “retweets” then a quote does. Knowing this information is useful and they are essentially gaining feedback. The above chart states that passing along feedback is a community manager’s role.

In my opinion, a social media manager is different from a community manager, but only slightly. I think we would find that a social media manager already manages the community that they have built. I also think we would find that a lot of community managers are active on social media. Overall, I think it comes down to the companies understanding of social media and community management. If they truly understand the impact of social media they might want to hire a “Community Manager.” If a company has both a Social Media Manager and a Community Manager, I have a feeling the two department have daily face-to-face meetings.

 

My Week as a Moderator

I went a whole week as a Moderator for #CMGRClass. I learned a lot about how to effectively manage a community and about how you must be on top of your community to make sure things are running smoothly. As a Moderator I felt the biggest lesson learned was time management. This was a good lesson in how to balance my time between working, school, and managing the G+ community for an entire week.

One of the most important articles that I posted was about how to be a successful community manager. This article was really effective as it had tips about the 12 most common things to do while running a community. I personally think that making connections and establishing relationships is key to success. Building relationships is what will keep your community going and your analytics will impress your manager.

Analytics

During the week that I was Moderator there was a great article titled How to Craft a Blog Post.  The article had 12 points from an experienced blogger about issues he had ran into when blogging. This article had a decent amount of discussion about what the most effective key point was. I believed that the most important point was quality control, where even one small mistake can effect your credibility in your readers eyes. One comment that stuck out to me was from iSchool Professor Kelly Lux, that “The title is SO important!”. Professor Lux brought up a great point that the most traffic on blogs comes from titles that are “keyword rich, or are those that answer ask or answer a Q”.

Overall, I think that my week as a moderator went well. There was a lot of great participation from the students of #CMGRClass. Each had their own opinions which helped keep the conversation flowing.  Using Google + for moderation was a great tool as it helped me keep track of who responded to my posts. I also liked the fact that Google + allowed me to almost instantly push a post to my audience within seconds.

I ran into issues with time management during my week of moderating. Like everybody says “there is not enough time in the day”. I tried to balance work, school, and moderating, this was extremely difficult to balance and taught me a lesson on how to balance my time evenly. I learned that moderating and being a successful Community Manager is harder than it looks, and it takes a lot of experience.

 

SU Graduate Tackles Blogging

The Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician logo.

The Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician logo.

Sean Keely is a Syracuse University graduate who has a passion for all things Syracuse University sports. He started noticing sports blogs and channels were not covering sub-topics such as soccer. They also did not have the type of content that he was looking for. When it was time for Sean to take matters into his own hands, he decided to just create his own sports blog. Now Sean’s blog, Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician has many readers and brings in revenues.

A popular question that occurs in the blogging space is, “How do you attract reoccurring readers?” Although there may not be a “right” answer, bloggers typically have an idea of how they gained their audience. For Sean, his focus was simply writing for himself. However, using key words and amping up SEO are also beneficial to gaining traffic. There are many factors that are taken into consideration when using SEO. Blogger, Victoria Edwards lays out some key points to enhancing your SEO. In Sean’s case, he puts a focus on key words. Especially when a large or breaking news event occurs.

During our time with Sean, we were wondering if he had a relationship with the University now that his blog has many readers. Sean stated that at first the University was not involved, but he was okay with that. Now, SU is well aware of his blog and will invite him to special events or let him in on new news. Sean reached out to the University himself because he realized that he needed special access. From the panel, we also learned that Sean credits job offers from his blogging experience. One of these jobs includes his teaching position for a blogging course in the iSchool. This tells us that building a community is a valuable asset in the working environment.

At this point, it is safe to say that Sean Keely has built a name for himself in the blogging space. He has readers, access, and a “secret society” (if you know what Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician means, you’re apart of this society). He also has user-generated content, that he calls “Fanposts” and reader interactions. All of this has built a strong community made up of Syracuse University sports fans. Don’t forget to check out Sean’s blog here!

Creating and Curating Content with Ally Greer and Sean Keeley

CMGRclass had the opportunity to hang out (okay, Google+ Hangout) with Ally Greer, community manager at Scoop.it, and Sean Keeley, creator and blogger at Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician.

Ally and Sean were a great choice for this stage of our class. We’ve covered community management through the lens of SEO, engagement, blogging, and user generated content (UGC) – great topics for them to cover.

Throughout the hangout, the biggest similarity between Ally and Sean’s job is the way they rely on content created by people other than themselves.

Using UGC is a common practice, and Ally and Sean use the idea in different but effective ways. Ally’s brand relies on UGC, and the interactive nature of Sean’s community breeds strong opinions – it’s clear they’ve easily determined that UGC is right for them.

"You can give context and meaning to further engage your audience." - Ally Greer

Scoop.it’s entire platform is built around the idea that people can find what interests them, add their insights, and publish. The nature of scoop.it is user-driven, and new content is created every day by users. Day to day, Ally combs through the content and looks for the best posts and writers.

Ally also strongly focuses on creating lean content, or, content that makes a big impact with few resources. Like Ally said during our hangout: creating content takes a lot of time. Lean content means Ally can repurpose content and help her users learn from Scoop.it content better and faster.

Meanwhile, Sean uses similar tactics in a different strategy. Sean writes for his blog because he loves to, but he still wants to curate additional content. In order to do so, he’s created a fan section of his blog where fans can write and publish their own content.

"Most people are writing because it's something fun to do." - Sean Keeley

Although Sean doesn’t run a platform like Scoop.it, he’s created a section of his blog where readers can contribute. Through this fanpost section, he’s able to find good writers that match the style of his blog. In some cases, fan blogs will be posted to the main blog, and in rare cases, consistently good fan contributors can become regular main blog contributors.

Both Ally and Sean create content, but in order to better use their time and take advantage of quality writers, they had to become skilled content curators as well.

In the CMGRclass G+ community, we’ve debated the best ways to do UGC. Some communities have depended on or currently depend on UGC with varying degrees of success – like Bleacher Report or Reddit. I’ve seen UGC increasingly become a part of other blogs – the Gawker Media blogs use Kinja to generate and help curate content from users.

It seems as though the successful blogs that use UGC are one of three things:

  1. The blog is the platform, and the best rise to the top (like Scoop.it or Reddit)
  2. The blog is fully integrated with a platform, and content is curated (like Gawker network blogs and Kinja)
  3. Provide an alternate platform for people to use, and content is curated (like TNIAAM)

Do you agree with these categories? Whether you do or not – are these methods really the best ways to curate UGC?