Tag Archive for google+

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!

Advice for Future Community Managers

On November 19th, our community management class was able to listen in on another panel of community manager experts. This week’s panel consisted of Lea Marino from Cycle For SurvivalTopher Ziobro of Google Local NYC, Jennifer Lopez from Moz, and Sahana Ullagaddi of Klout. Each individual was able to offer different pieces of advice to our class, especially ones who were looking to work as a community manager after graduation. While each panelist was able to add on or agree with what other panelists were saying, each person was able to contribute their own piece of advice based on their own experiences.

Jen Lopez encouraged the ability to plan ahead. Being able to hear information and quickly turn it into something meaningful is an incredible skill. Asking yourself questions like “Is this a big deal?” allows community managers to make things happen. Good community managers know what to do with information they’re given – quickly. If community managers don’t know the answer, they should know who does. Being able to think quickly and think on your feet is invaluable.

Lea Marino stressed the importance of empathy. Although it’s not necessarily something that  can be taught, it’s important to know how to express empathy through digital channels. It’s not enough to through in an emoticon; it’s important to be able to understand what is being said behind those words and smiles. Connecting with people on a deeper level is important. It enhances your communication skills, which are so important to this field.

Sahanna Ullagaddi discussed the importance of wanting to learn. Many people don’t know what they want when they start working in the community management field, so being able to absorb lots of different types of information is important. Being able to hear information and then follow up can make you a great community manager. While learning, it’s also important to share what you think. Having your own voice can make you your own person, and an even better manager.

Topher shares his advice with the class via Google + Hangout

Topher shares his advice with the class via Google + Hangout

Topher Ziobro talked about the importance of energy. Your energy will allow you to take on challenges and express your excitement for something. Social channels need to be energetic throughout the day, and so do you. Projects may run late into the night, and you might have to too! It’s important to keep up that energy and remember that social media doesn’t necessarily end at 5pm everyday.

All of the different pieces of advice that the panelists contributed allowed each member of our class to think about what skills are necessary to be a community manger. Each community manager was able to contribute something different to the table, and all of their advice was incredibly valuable!

Do you have anything to add? Do you disagree with anything? Let us know in the comments below! 

Tips from various Community Managers

This week’s panel for CMGRclass was one word: great. It is amazing to see people that technically have the same title, but are different in some ways. It’s also great to see all the different backgrounds that they come from!

Jen, the director of community at Moz, Lea, the community manager for Cycle for Survival, Sahana, who focuses on the community and marketing aspect at Klout, and Topher, part of the community team for Google all brought different aspects to the table that were very beneficial.

I spent most of my time during the hangout jotting down notes that I thought were relevant and good points. Come to find out, it seemed like I typed almost everything they said, because that’s how important I felt it was. How many pages did I type in Word regarding this panel? 5 single spaced pages. May be a bit much, but this is something I know I can always refer to.

My two takeaways

While clearly there are a million things I could write about, there were two takeaways in particular from the panel that I thought were great. First, the different traits that are most helpful to them that should be focused on and second, their mentors.

Traits

It was really neat to see the traits that each community manager felt was important. A quick recap of each panel member’s thoughts were as follows:

Jen-Being able to figure out what to do next is huge. Having the ability to take something and make a decision on what happens next is very important as well as having the ability to make decisions quickly.

Jenn speaking with #CMGRclass

Jenn speaking with #CMGRclass

Lea- Empathy is very important such as having the ability to empathize what is actually being said behind the words. Also, curiosity is crucial. Constantly looking to be better and being curious to learn is a great trait to have.

Sahana- Her five traits she believes are important are: the hunger to learn, being able to take something and actually doing something with it, being able to speak up and share your opinions and feedback, being perceptive, and being able to prioritize and knowing what’s most important and what’s not.

Topher- Energy is very important. How you display your energy and show your interests are crucial traits. Having the energy to tackle any task at any time is a trait that is valued for a community manager.

Mentors

Topher speaking with #CMGRclass

Topher speaking with #CMGRclass

It was very interesting to see the different mentors these four community managers have had along the way. A recap of the four panelists responses are as follows:

Topher – He has had a combination of mentors, ranging from a girl named Julia who is the editor for the creative’s project, to all the great community managers at different meet-ups.

Sahana- An assortment of individuals have helped her along the way. She owes everything to her mentors because they taught her so much. She has a couple people she has kept in touch with via e-mail as well as different chats, such as #CMGRchat.

Lea- The people who send e-mails of emotional love are her mentors. Getting out and hearing from people at meet-ups have been a sense of mentoring for her. Receiving the e-mails that inspire you have been a guidance for her.

Jen- It’s extremely hard for her to pinpoint one or two people. She has found that just by being in her community, she has gained many mentors. Not one person knows everything, so different people mentor you in different ways. She has mentors when she reaches out to her community and gets answers.

Lea speaking with #CMGRclass

Lea speaking with #CMGRclass

Summary

Ultimately, this was a very unique panel with many different backgrounds experience and educational wise. There were many great things that were taken away from this panel and many tips that we can all use in the future were given. I think my favorite part of the panel was the different traits, because it seemed everyone had different answers but they were all great. I truly think being curious and willing to learn is the top one for me. Things are always changing and you have to go with the flow. You have to expect the unexpected and be ready to act upon things quickly when they arise. Without the sense of curiosity, you might not be ready to make those decisions. I think if I could take away one thing from this panel (even though there are endless), I would have to say it is crucial to manage your time well and be open to learning new things plus giving yourself an emotional break every once in a while!

Sahana speaking with #CMGRclass

Sahana speaking with #CMGRclass

 

Questions:

What were your favorite thoughts on the panel?

Did one trait seem more important that others?

Do you have a particular mentor?

 

Moderating #CMGRClass on Twitter & Google+

My moderating week did not go as well as planned. It seemed everyone who moderated before had many people involved and participation was much higher. On the flip side, I learned new things regarding moderating and while I thought this week was tough just to jump back and forth from Google+ and Twitter with only a few comments, I know that there is so much more involved regarding community management. For example, in the article by Jeff Sonderman titled How the Huffington Post handles 70+ Million Comments a Year, there can be up to 25,000 posts an hour! Now if I thought this week was challenging, I can’t imagine what they go through daily, even hourly! Although, with that volume, they have up to 30 full time moderators that work 24/7/365 in six-hour shifts where they can go through hundreds of comments an hour.

One of the biggest takeaways from this week was that regardless of how many people participated, there was still good discussion. For Huffington Post, having 100,000 comments on a post isn’t unusual and with that, you can still have a very meaningful conversation. I think the same goes with not many comments. This allows the moderator to be able to be involved in the community and participate more since there isn’t as much on the plate. I felt as though it wasn’t that difficult to respond to what everyone had to say on the posts. It allowed me to follow up with some questions.

Photo courtesy of Jon Gossier  via Flikr Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Jon Gossier via Flikr Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Fabrizio Van Marciano via Flikr Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Fabrizio Van Marciano via Flikr Creative Commons

My Week as a Moderator

As stated above, I was hoping the discussion went a little deeper and I had more participation. I felt that I posted just as much if not more than other weeks, and I was active on Twitter. It didn’t seem that many people were responding nor was I getting many active participants on Twitter. However, with the comments we got, we were able to have a good discussion. The standout was Anne Marie, who posted on everything we put out there on Google+. We only got 1 retweet about an article I posted, and that was by Hannah. The Twitter participation was very disappointing. I would ask open ended questions and not many would respond. I have found this to be true for most weeks though, not just my week to moderate.

I learned that I shouldn’t overpower or dominate when I am moderating and I felt that I just needed to let things flow, and ask follow up questions only when needed. I am not sure if I overpowered the class with articles I found or if simply they didn’t find what I posted to be interesting. I still think to myself what I could have done better and what went wrong. I am open to suggestions for enhancing the experience and getting the class more engaged.

Community Moderation Fun!

After about 11 weeks of class, my turn has finally come to pass for moderation of our Google+ community. The subject of this week was community scaling to ensure its manageability, which is a very important topic because it has implications on the level of success that you will have with the growth of the community. Prior to moderating the community, I read chapter 4 in Richard Millington’s “Buzzing Communities” book per the recommendations of the syllabus. I must say that the content was spot on for how you should generally approach community moderation.

Image from http://www.inflexwetrust.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/IFWT_offensive_language.jpg

Image from http://www.inflexwetrust.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/IFWT_offensive_language.jpg

Importance of Community Moderation

Originally community moderators were seen as those that simply removed unneeded or unwanted content from a forum – such as spam, inappropriate posts, excessive language and unproductive conflict. Community moderation has changed over the years to include stimulating conversations, resolving conflict and keeping the community active through posts. Communities that aren’t active can result in the death of the community, a Community Manager must ensure that their participants are actually participating in the discussion. Here are a few ways that I found a Community Manager can stimulate activity:

  • Personal posts that are somewhat entertaining, but appropriate
  • Pose questions to the community that will allow them to post personal experiences in the industry
  • Post your own experiences as it applies to the conversation

These are only some of the tasks that I believe a Community Manager has while moderating a community discussion. I personally used these approaches during my time posting on our CMGR Google+ community group. The most important of the 3 listed above is posting your own experiences at it applies to the conversation. My experiences are unique and can’t be found in an online article or book, hence I think this is the best way to convey an idea or concept and influence a discussion.

Experience this week

Despite my various posts, I haven’t seen a lot of activity from my classmates. The most activity I have seen thus far was from a presentation by Patrick O’Keefe that was an entertaining take on what NOT to do when managing a community. Lacking activity can be a real problem because it can turn away potential new users of your community.

Several things that were mentioned in the book such as creating guidelines and monitoring spam really doesn’t apply to our scenario due to the exclusivity of CMGR Class. The community is limited to students that are enrolled in the class, thus eliminating the need for constant monitoring of posts to ensure there are no conflicts or inappropriate posts. Everyone will follow the guidelines that were defined in the syllabus and the repercussion for disobeying is a low or failing grade for IST620.

Overall, this week was good, but I just wish we had more activity from the class. Honestly, I think the nice weather may have had something to do with the lack of posts… just a thought…

Last Google+ Hangout of the Semester

Greetings CMGR Class! Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend the Google+ Hangout for class due to an unfortunate family matter. I’ll spare everyone the details, but I truly regret not being able to participate in the last hangout of the semester. This week we’re discussing scaling a community and how to make it more manageable, which I will be moderating. I believe this is a very important topic because it ensure that a Community Manager isn’t overloaded and can adequately maintain their community.

Last week we discussed analytics, metrics, and ambassador programs. I find metrics to be very interesting because it is something that I use every day at work. We have a multitude of SaaS providers that we use to monitor the performance, up/down time, and various other aspects of our web portals. Ambassador programs are important because it can expose your community to a new audience therefore improving the discussion between your participants.

outreachAmbassador Programs

Kelly mentioned Wegman’s food stores for ambassador programs, emphasizing the endless possibilities for implementing them. I think this is a great example because Wegman’s has a great, well-known brand (in certain areas) that can be used to generate a lot of interest among consumers. Depending on the location, Wegman’s could benefit from an ambassador program embracing an online community that may be a bit foreign to their own. The new audience would definitely prove to be useful when they are attempting to expand their market to a new city or state.

Justification for such an ambassador program requires detailed metrics, which may include the following:

  • # of consumers participating in community that convert to sales
  • Overall social media activity – # of tweets, posts, likes, etc…
  • Feedback from surveys sent to your audience
  • # of unique visits between major social media networks (Twitter vs. Facebook vs. Tumblr)

The most important of all metrics is conversion – how many participants on social networks turn into actual customers? How much revenue am I gaining for each of these new consumers? Questions such as these must be answered to justify any type of spending by a company to support a program.

Metrics

I listed a few metrics that I use for my job that assists me with assessing how we’re doing when meeting our customers’ needs. These include metrics such as average load times, browser usage, down/up times, server load / bandwidth and Google analytics. Metrics assist me with determining how we can improve our process to make our audience happier. If they are waiting over a minute for a page to load, obviously a person won’t be happy and might leave.

Overall, last week was great and I’m looking forward to this week’s moderation assignment. I wish I could have made it to the last class… this was a truly valuable experience and I appreciate everyone’s feedback.