Though we’ve certainly touched on and learned the basics of community management in the last several weeks, it was unquestionably more enriching to have Ally Greer and Sean Keely speak to our class and address what had otherwise been a concept confined in our readings. Hearing their experiences with community management helped contextualize everything else we’d learned this unit.
Takeaways from hearing Ally Greer speak:
Ally mentioned that, prior to being hired, she didn’t even know what being a community manager meant. She said that she had to discover and learn her responsibilities on-the-job, specifically by looking at other bloggers and community managers for guidance. The nature of the Internet lends itself to that kind of self-teaching, given that everything moves so much faster on the Web; the best people to learn from are your contemporaries and competitors.
One of the more interesting points that Ally made was that being a user of a product doesn’t automatically make one a member of that community. Through her work for Scoop.it, she had an easier head start with building a community, mainly in that she already had a built-in community to start with. Her plan to turn the top percentage of their users into “ambassador communities” definitely helped jump-start the process, all the while making her community members feel instantly included.
Takeaways from hearing Sean Keely speak:
I thought it was interesting that Sean had to start his blog first—and then go back and manage his community. He had a chance to really establish his voice first, which must have helped with going back and deciding what sort of tone to take on with his community. Compared to Ally, Sean had to build his community from the ground up, starting first with himself and then drawing people in with content that had to be niche enough to draw that kind of audience, but engaging enough to keep people there.
I find Sean’s tactic of incorporating “fan posts” onto the blog a smart move. It’s a low-risk strategy to get content on his site, providing everyday users with an outlet for writing where their visibility is in their hands. At the same time, it’s a smart means of finding new blood and bringing new staff writers to his blog. It builds his brand both ways.
Altogether, participating in the panel helped me understand what community management really entails and how to apply it in a real-world context.