Tag Archive for Community Manager

Qualities of a Successful Startup Community Manager

Startups are hard, there’s no doubt about that. Building up something from nothing, where the main resource is yourself and your time, is no small feat. Once you’ve gotten your startup off the ground and running, it might be time for a community manager– or, at least, for someone to take on that role.

I recently spoke with Giselle Gonzalez, marketing manager for doggyloot and startup social media extrodinaire. Giselle has been in the business of startup social media for over three years, and here are some of the things that prove her to be successful in this area.

A little about doggyloot: doggyloot is a daily deals startup for dog products. The company was founded in early 2011 and now boasts over 700,000 active subscribers, as well as a robust Facebook community.

  1. the-80-20-ruleThe 80/20 Rule: Make sure you have an idea of the balance of content you’re aiming for. Giselle aims for 80% general dog-related content (which can range from funny images to news articles) and 20% doggyloot-related content, advertising recent sales. Too much of either can throw your community off. Figure out what works for your customers and aim to stick to it!

  2. Platforms: Sometimes it seems like a new social media platform is debuting every day. Don’t get caught up in the noise; for doggyloot, Facebook is where most of their community lies, so that’s where they spend most of their time. If you’re a B2B marketing firm, your best bet might be LinkedIn. Prioritize those platforms that actually contribute to sales and community, and think critically before jumping into the noise of yet another. Your bandwidth isn’t unlimited!

  3. breakIt’s Okay to Take a Break: This is similar to #2. If you’re not sure if a platform is actually working for you, it’s okay to step back for a few months and critically evaluate what’s working and what’s not, as well as conduct research on your competition. Although doggyloot’s blog had good engagement, it wasn’t driving sales. The team is stepping back to see what they can do better.

  4. Look at Your Org Chart: Where does your community manager sit in the organization? Is she a summer intern who’s just getting into the swing of the business? Giselle is close with top management at doggyloot, which allows her to see both sides of the story: management and community. She’s a pro at communicating between the two.

  5. Giselle's Dapper Dog

    Giselle’s Dapper Dog

    Passion: Nothing is a substitute for passion. If you’re passionate about your community and its subject matter, it will shine through. Giselle loves dogs (just check out her Chihuaua’s Facebook page) and it makes her all the more qualified to answer questions and find great, relevant content.

What are your top tips for a startup community manager?

Agency Advice From a Community Manager “Lens”

Have you ever had your favorite brand reply to you on Twitter? Have you then taken a screenshot of this tweet and posted it to Facebook where over 100 of your friends liked it? Well then maybe you have a community manager to thank for the best part of your week. Now, you may think the man or woman who responded to your brand-praising tweet is an in-house community manager, but these days more companies outsource community management to agencies.

Who’s the Subject?

This week I had the chance to speak with Emily Maupai, an agency-based community manager in New Jersey. Emily currently works at 3E Public Relations, which is an affiliate of SGW Integrated Marketing Communications, one of the Garden State’s leading integrated marketing communications firms. After receiving a B.A. in Advertising from Rowan University, Emily now manages many consumer and B2B clients in industries such as health and beauty, restaurant, food and beverage, franchising, automotive, telecommunications, broadcast, and financial services.

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 4.22.23 PM

A screenshot of my FaceTime interview with Emily

I was actually able to intern for this marketing communications company a few years ago, and I know first-hand the hard work and dedication she has put into her work to build communities for her clients. Specifically, I spoke with Emily about one of her clients that she describes as a “professional lens company.” (For privacy sake, the company asked that specific information about their clients be withheld)

Why User Generated Content is the Best Kind of Content

As Emily has been growing the brand of this client for two years, the brand has become an opinion leader of the professional broadcast and cinema community. But what kind of content does she post to keep her community engaged? As discussed in class, it is important to decide if user generated content is the right fit for your website. For Emily’s client, the answer to that question is yes. Because her community is very heavy in content creation she always asks them to share what kind of projects they are working on and to share any behind-the-scenes shots they are legally allowed to post, and she says they normally do.

Author Richard Millington of Buzzing Communities supports this method as he says, “The best content for a community is content about the community.” When users are sharing these personal, behind-the-scenes shots it makes the page about the people in the community, instead of a solely a big advertisement for the brand. It also provides a reason for members to visit the page every day; to see if their content was featured, or just to see any new content from their online friends.

(2012, 01 03). Calendar-Clip-Art-Free [Web Photo]. Retrieved from www.schoolforlittlepeople.com

(2012, 01 03). Calendar-Clip-Art-Free [Web Photo]. Retrieved from www.schoolforlittlepeople.com

Plan For Success

Emily and her team emphasize the role of an editorial calendar. Specifically, they try to plan out a month’s worth of content so that they are always prepared, but also they leave room for timely and relevant news breaks.This allows the brand to embody all of Social Fresh’s benefits of an editorial calendar by being timely, organized, and professional. Emily also values having a positive relationship with her client, and she has noticed that the brand team appreciates seeing what you are going to put on the web on their behalf before it goes live.

What’s the Best Part of Being a Community Manager?

To end the interview I thought it would be fun to ask Emily what her favorite part of her job is. She summed it up nicely by saying she enjoys connecting people and helping them more easily find the information they are looking for on the web.

Questions for the Audience

  • Is the community management industry moving more towards agencies?
  • Do you believe it is helpful to have a community manager that is removed from the all-consuming, in-house brand environment?
  • Do you agree with Emily’s client approval process, where they send the planned posts to the brand before they hit the web?

Let me know in the comments below!

Walk in the Shoes of a Social Media Manager

If you want to know what it’s like to be a social media manager, just as Maren Guse, Assistant Director of Digital and Social Media at Syracuse University (SU). She’s one of the brains behind the operation that keeps SU tweeting, posting, and sharing.

Introductions First

Guse is responsible for content across SU’s main flagship social accounts including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram, among others. I had the chance to sit down with her and pick her brain about what it means to be a social media manager to her.

“What I do is oversee the accounts on social media under the flagship accounts, so everything that is branded “Syracuse University.” What we do is provide content on those channels and then develop conversations around that content that relates back to our brand.”

The Brand

Yes, SU is a brand. After all, they have an image to uphold, and social media can either be a blessing or a curse for any brand. When done right, social media with the help of an effective social media manager can have large and positive impact on a brand.

The first thing that I learned from Maren is that in order to do your job well you need to understand both your brand and your audience(s). Most of the time you will have multiple audiences, and that is important to recognize too.

The Audiences

What do I mean by multiple audiences? Well, for instance, Maren monitors and interacts on multiple social channels, like the ones I mentioned above. They don’t all have the same audience, so Maren needs to recognize those unique audiences and tailor content on each platform to best fit the needs of the users. Facebook has a more alumni based audience, where Twitter is made up of mostly current and prospective students. See what I mean?

The Job

Maren explained her job as a social media manager well,

“It means to develop conversations with people and foster dialogue around a brand, but also to get the University into those conversations.”

Sometimes it is starting conversations, other times its joining in on conversations, and other times it just means listening. All of these are important, and all of them require planning. Any effective social media manager knows that you can’t just sit down in front of a computer and start tweeting. Maren explains that content calendars help plan day-to-day content, and regular meeting help create long-term plans too.

Yes, it is social media, which means it can be unexpected at time. That’s where listening becomes important, and then thinking on your feet comes into play.

Maren also spoke about using tools to help you collaborate and manage. Tools like Google Docs and Tweetdeck are Maren’s go-to, but anything that helps a social media manager listen and interact across multiple channels, and to collaborate with their staff will do.

The Take-away

The biggest take-away from my conversation with Maren was to always be listening, always be adaptive, and always be human. By being human, a brand can make connections, create a community, and build meaningful relationships.

Are you a community manager, do you aspire to be? How do your experiences compare? Comment below or tweet me @JaredMandel

Chatting with Sunny

Syracuse Media Group

The inside of Syracuse Media Group, where Sunny works. Taken from Syracuse.com

When choosing a community manager to interview for CMGR class, I knew I wanted to talk to someone local. Syracuse has a great local community based around pride and support of the city. There is a core group of people in Syracuse who love the city and are doing great work to make it a great place to be. Sunny Hernandez is one of those people.

I first learned of Sunny through Twitter, appropriately. She seemed like the person to know, many of the people that I admire were following her and having conversations. I followed her to stay in the loop on local happenings and see how she managed her social media. Sunny gives off this vibe that makes you think that she is a good friend, and I perked up everytime I saw her in my Twitter feed even though I had never formally met her. It made sense that she works for Syracuse.com as a Community Manager, since she is able to easily engage with people through the medium of social media.

Sunny graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in Sociology. This degree came in handy in the future as she taught in the area. To raise funding for her program and to raise awareness, she ventured into the world of social media. From there she took off, becoming immersed in the local Twitter community, taking social media focused jobs, and learning about Community Management.

Her current job at Syracuse.com involves managing the Twitter and Facebook accounts, writing community blog posts, and moderating the comments section of the articles. Since Syracuse.com is the largest digital news organization for Central New York, it is up to Sunny and her team to manage the community. Syracuse.com’s digital strategy is transitioning away from solely broadcasting local news and towards being more engaging. With this in mind, Sunny is strategic about the stories that she shares on social media, thinking of what the community would respond well to. I thought it was interesting that she stated that a big part of her job is knowing the community. I never realized to the extent that Community Managers are always mindful of that, and how absolute it is. If you are not familiar with your community, then you will not be able to connect them in the best way possible.

I was also interested to hear that they do use featured posts, where they ask for photos from people in the community to feature. Sunny also will reach out to a community member who has posted a comment on an article, and ask them if they will elaborate on the topic. Sometimes they even have an article of comments that people have posted. These are all great ways to encourage discussion and promote engagement with the community.

Lastly, another interesting point that Sunny brought up was the community guidelines. These are in place to make sure that the comments that people are posting are constructive and appropriate. Surprisingly, it does a lot to help monitor the comments, Sunny refers to it when she has to talk to someone about their unacceptable comment to keep everything under control. She even finds the community self-moderating, politely pointing out the guidelines to each other. This is a sign of a great, constructive community!

It was a pleasure to talk to Sunny and discuss the community-building of Syracuse.com. The one thing that I would recommend, is to hold events to reward community members and foster a stronger sense of community. Making the community more visible and central will bring everyone in the community closer together, and humanize the people behind the posts. Overall, I think they are moving in the right direction towards achieving a close and engaged community.

Video interview

 

Interview with Ashley Shaw: Political Community Manager

I recently had the opportunity to interview with Ms. Ashley Shaw (@AshleyMoriyah) who is the Community Manager for Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla who represents California’s 14th District. Over the past years, Ashley has worked in several district offices where she focused on Community Outreach and advertising for numerous community events. During the interview we had a chance to discuss her current role as a Community Manager, how she stays so passionate about her job, and advice she has for those new to a Community Manager role.

The Life of a Community ManagerAshley Shaw

Being in the public eye is never an easy task, and when someone is the Community Manager of a political office, there is never one day that is like the rest. Each day offers something completely different and it is the responsibility of Ms. Shaw to keep the Assemblywoman’s community up to date and informed through different social media outlets. She also spends time planning different community events that help in relaying Assemblywoman Bonilla’s message as well as facilitating conversation about the needs of the community.

Love What You Do

Although Ashley has been working in the community for several years, she is still more passionate about her job than ever before. She takes pride in listening to those within the community and being an advocate for those who may not be heard. She truly enjoys hosting various events and talking to people to receive their input. One way to meet new people within the community was a budget forum event hosted by the office. Ashley and her team ran a social media campaign that invited people out to the event and provided free giveaways to those who participated. I thought this was a great way to get members of the community to participate online and in person and provide a sense of unity within the community.

Advice for Newbies

When Ashley first started as a Community Manager she was not familiar with all of the social media outlets available to her. She understood how Facebook and Twitter worked, but did not know how to utilize other outlets. One suggestion that she provided that really stood out was to not be afraid to experiment with different tools or social media sites. In her experience she has used a lot of different tools and she was able to learn the most effective ways to use them to relay different messages.

I am really glad I had the opportunity to interview Ashley and gain a stronger understanding of a community manager. It was great to learn about the different strategies she uses to reach members within her community and how she takes the time to address the needs of members.

 

Be A Community Manager Extraordinaire

What happens when your employer wants it all but only has the budget to hire one person for three or four jobs?

If you are Janise McMillan, they hire you. Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Janise for a paper about working as a community manager. While Janise makes it look easy, I soon learned that her smile and professionalism hid a secret that many not-for-profits keep—a vision beyond its budget. In other words, too many plans and not enough resources.

What started as an interview about community management became a story about how to do it all. From social media management to marketing to public relations and other priorities along the way, those who work for not-for-profits in a mid-sized city need keep many plates spinning.

Here are three ways to make things happen when you are a one-person team:

  1. Work smarter, not harder. When you have so many responsibilities, it is essential that you get value from each project.
  2. Stay accountable. Understaffed teams (or solo artists, as is the case with Janise) are bogged down in the day-to-day hustle. In order to keep projects moving across practice areas like social media and community management, make sure to talk about your goals and timelines to others. This could be a supervisor, a trusted colleague or even a friend. Make sure that your plans are made public so that you keep your accountability and focus.
  3. Come up for air. Studies show that taking a quick break can increase productivity. Make this your mantra, even when you are swamped—which might be every day!

An example of how to put these tips into practice was an open house for Janise’s company after it relocated to its new headquarters. She was able to keep active on her social media accounts, targeted the guest list and created invitations, as well as issuing all of the press releases  for the event. In the midst of this, she kept focus on her goal of community management for the event and incorporated a real-time feedback video that allowed guests to discuss their impression of the new headquarters.

This added a fun factor to the event and engaged the community. If Janise had not used the three tips above, she might not have pulled all of this off, all while keeping up with routing operations.

Do you have a secret that helps you do it all? Please share that, along with your feedback, in the comments!

My Interview with Community Manager, Katrina Steffensen

At this point in the semester, we have learned quite a few aspects about community managers and what they do. Just as a refresher, some of the things #CMGRclass has touched upon are Blogging, Content Creation, the differences between social media managers and community managers, Twitterverse fails, Search Engine Optimization, and Listening and Planning.

Yet, this week was a bit different from the normal flow of the class. My classmates and I all went on a quest to find a real-life community manager! Who did I interview? I had the pleasure of talking to Ms. Katrina Steffensen, a Channel Manager at VML, one of the world’s top digital marketing agencies. What brand does she manage? It’s one that everyone knows, and that is Gatorade.

Marsh, Jennifer. 24 February 2014. Online Image. Flickr. 07 March 2014.

Marsh, Jennifer. 24 February 2014. Online Image. Flickr. 07 March 2014.

During our interview, there were some main topics I wanted to find out: her responsibilities as a community manager, what the Gatorade online community is like, and why she likes being the Gatorade community manager so much.

1.) Her Community Manager Responsibilities

Ms. Steffensen made it very clear to me what the main responsibility of her job is: to talk to the Gatorade community members each and every day, to make those members feel welcome. How does she do that? She initiates conversations, creates content, and replies to comments on all of the Gatorade channels, which include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Google+, andTumblr.

As the main moderator of the community, Ms. Steffensen follows a kind of schedule as to when the content for following weeks is due. In fact, at VML, content is usually created 3-4 weeks in advance! One type of content that has been extremely successful, according to Ms. Steffensen, has been congratulatory messages to community members and their teams. Whenever these posts are distributed, a lot of activity is gauged from the different channels. Why is this so? Probably because huge fans of Gatorade are receiving personal feedback from the brand they love. Basically, Ms. Steffensen is constantly in content creating mode, thinking of matters, subjects, and dialogue that will really connect well with the Gatorade community, which I am going to talk about next.

2.) What the Gatorade Community is Like

Let’s learn some facts and stats about the Gatorade community:

Brasil, Ambrev. 12 July 2011. Online Image. Flickr. 07 March 2014.

Brasil, Ambrev. 12 July 2011. Online Image. Flickr. 07 March 2014.

  • Mostly made up of 13-17 year old athletes
  • Approximately 60% Males, 40% Females
  • Males more vocal on all channels

From the facts above, it makes sense that most of the Gatorade community is made up of young athletes, right? I mean, it is a sports drink. So, therefore, much of the conversations within the community surround Gatorade and SPORTS. For example, the members of the community tend to discuss what their current favorite flavors are, or why they need Gatorade to provide motivation for the athletic performance.

3.) Why Being the Gatorade Community Manager is so Fun

So, working for such a big, successful, and influential brand, like Gatorade, should be really fun, right? I would think so, and Ms. Steffensen definitely agrees.

The best parts about being the community manager for Gatorade? Ms. Steffensen is able to give extra motivation to young athletes everywhere, directly through the channels she manages. Athletes of all sorts tell their cool and amazing stories, whether directly related to the sports drink or not, through the Gatorade channels, and she is able to listen respond to them. By being the Gatorade channel manager, Ms. Steffensen is able to receive instant gratification from the conversations she has with the members of her community. This instant feeling of awesomeness is something that isn’t really achieved in other forms of communicating, especially with an online community.

Cruz, Haleey. 24 December 2010. Online Image. Flickr. 07 March 2014.

Cruz, Haleey. 24 December 2010. Online Image. Flickr. 07 March 2014.

In sum, while I was nervous about this assignment at first, I really enjoyed it and even gained a lot from it. Meeting new people is always nice, especially professionals. And, I must say, getting to talk and get to know Ms. Steffensen was an extreme pleasure. Not only did I have fun interviewing her, but I learned a lot about her job, as a community manager, and I was able to connect many of the lessons from this class to real life (*cue the clicking of the light bulb*).

After this interview, the job of a community manager seemed a lot more appealing than before. Who knows, maybe I could be the person behind a brand, in the future, making more better consumer experiences every day.

 

 

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.

How To Get A Job As A Community Manager

“We’re in the age of social media.” How many times have you heard that before? It’s true! We are immersed in a world where social media has become part of our lives. The first thing some people do in the morning is check their phone and check their social media. It’s also the last thing some people do before they go to bed at night. Such a high dependence on social media has led to an increase in the need for a community manager, or someone to cultivate communities around products, brands, and services. When looking for a job as a community manager, it’s important to know what to look out for.

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 6.12.43 PMThe Job Description

In an article by Erin Bury, the typical job responsibilities of a community manager are listed. They include content creation, social media marketing, customer relations, and gathering analytics. A common misconception of community managers is that they sit on Facebook and Twitter all day and read tweets. It’s important to note that community managers do much more than that. Creating strategies, analyzing data, and connecting with the right people is all part of the job description.

What They’re Looking For

In addition to having the skills, it’s also important that you have the right attitude and work ethic for the community management position. Hiring managers and recruiters will be looking to make sure that you fit the part. According to Bury, it’s also important to have an outgoing personality, writing skills, social media experience, and an interest in the industry. When looking to work for a certain brand, it’s important to research that company and make sure you have what they’re looking for. Lots of companies will often have job descriptions on their website, making them easily accessible to those who are interested.

What Else?

Bury does a great job of outlining the different skills necessary to be a good community manager. In her post, she also shares examples of community management job descriptions. While Bury does a great job of covering all the bases of looking for a community management job, it’s also important to remember that a job/brand has to fit your personality too. While a company can list what they’re looking for in a community manager, it’s also important that you consider what you’re looking for in a company. Different brands have different tones and work styles. Make sure you find something that fits in well with you, too!

 

 

 

Top 3 Tips for New Community Managers

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

Lavrusik’s Top 10

Lavrusik’s top ten were as follows:

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

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

My Top 3

 

Photo courtesy of Dirk Bartels and Olaf Lewitz

Photo courtesy of Dirk Bartels and Olaf Lewitz

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

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

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

Question to consider

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