Tag Archive for listening

Moderation Week: My Chance in the Big Leagues

This past week, I was tasked with the assignment of being the #CMGRclass moderator. My job was to introduce new content to the class that would help us further discuss the topics we’ve been reading throughout. This week’s topic was listening and planning. Each member of our class has had a different experience with social media and community management both on a personal and professional level. My main goal was to not only create a discussion about the topic at hand but to also allow people to reflect on their experiences and teach everyone else about some new practices that we may not have heard of before. Once I had my goal set, I could finally start my moderating journey. While there are many things that a moderator is in charge of, three of the most important are the introduction of content, engaging with the community, and monitoring, not dominating, the conversation.


Image via Flickr.

Finding Content

On my quest to find the perfect content, I tried to find articles that were informative, yet open ended. I wanted people to have the opportunity discuss some of the topics further without feeling like the article was right above all else. Each article explained a different practice used by community managers in either the listening or planning phase. In my opinion, each article brought up points that not only tied to this week’s topic but also tied into our previous lessons on community management vs. social media management and content curation.

What I learned: Just sharing any piece of content with your community is not worth much if it doesn’t relate to the topic of conversation at hand. Learn to find information that really matters, share it, and wait for the feedback.

Asking Questions

One of the golden rules when moderating and interacting with a company is to ask questions that will build on the current discussion and allow it to really prosper. While I did think that having the information from each article under my belt gave me a good starting point of discussion, I would have liked to have had more information in order to ask better questions. I was lucky enough to have community members who introduced everyone, including myself, who introduced new ideas and were able to keep the conversation going.

What I learned: You will never have enough questions going until the end of time and this is where your community’s engagement can work in your favor. In the end, it’s not about the quantity of questions, but the quality of each question.

Domination vs. Conversation

I am naturally a very talkative person. While I do consider myself to be an extroverted introvert, I can talk for hours about anything; especially if it’s something that I’m truly interested. One of the areas that I had a struggle with in the beginning was the difference between domination and conversation. Because I am so used to overtaking a conversation, I had to learn quickly that this type of verbal takeover is not conducive to fostering a good community. The members of the class didn’t sign up to hear me voice all of my opinions. They joined to really discuss different ideas and learn from one another. Rather than posting a piece of content and adding my comments, I would try to pose a question and like people’s comments as a way of continuing my engagement and not overtaking the entire experience.

What I’ve learned: When you dominate a conversation, it’s like you’re having it with yourself. Give your community the opportunity to really speak up engage with them without overwhelming them.


This experience taught me so many interesting things about the life of a community manager. In order to truly be successful, you must remember that it’s not always give and take. This type of black and white interaction can turn your community into one of the most boring situations in the world. However, if you pose a few questions and give the community time to actually engage using social media, you will see the transformation immediately. All in all, the overall experience was great and while I was nervous the entire time, I enjoyed taking that role within a community. Hopefully that won’t be the last time I’m in that role.

Finding Your Community

It’s been freestyle week in #CMGRclass.  There haven’t been assigned readings, and students were asked to provide questions for our February 12 hangout with Olivier Blanchard, author of Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization.  #CMGRclass students came through, asking questions that addressed the execution and monitoring of social media activities within corporate, not-for-profit, higher education, and small business settings, and Olivier spoke to the class for nearly an hour on those questions and more.

Find the puzzle pieces and put them together

One #CMGRclass student, Katie Hudson, asked how a person without formal influence should communicate upward that social media is important and go about selecting the metrics that will demonstrate its success.

Puzzle Pieces

Olivier admitted that it can be disconcerting to see progress from an organization’s social media efforts, thinking that things are going well but lacking confirmation from management.  Olivier suggested that consulting with a company’s decision makers and asking key questions can go a long way toward identifying an organizations’ goals and how social media can help meet those objectives:

“What can I help you with?  What can I help you do?”

This is truly a win-win situation: the social media manager will have a better understanding of the business and its managers’ motivations; the business leaders will in turn understand how social channels can help them meet their needs within the business.  Olivier said, “It’s like finding all the puzzle pieces and putting them together.”

24 hours later…

The night after our Google+ hangout, I had a Junior League of Syracuse meeting.  The organization’s usual monthly membership meetings are executed slightly differently during the month of February, where the membership breaks into smaller groups – “sectionals” – that provide training and education on specific topics of interest.  I was excited to see social media on the docket, but just imagine how I felt to learn that the JLS was welcoming Kelly Lux as the featured speaker!

In the space of an hour and a half, Kelly covered a lot of ground with the dozen or so members in attendance: from the importance and ramifications of having a presence on social media (“If you don’t exist online, you don’t exist.”) to suggestions for platforms that might be useful in different business or personal situations.











This year within the JLS, I hold the title of Online Engagement Chair.  I manage the organization’s social media accounts, work with other JLS leaders to understand their activities and goals, and identify content and suggest new opportunities.  I like to think I have a good idea of the platforms on which members are present and, even to some extent, their relative level of activity.  On Wednesday night, though, I must say that I was inspired by the breadth of my fellow members’ questions, their engagement in the discussion, and their tangible level of excitement.

On my way home after the meeting, I thought about something that Olivier had said on Tuesday night.

It’s really about value.

Another classmate, Alaetra Combs, had asked how a community manager can establish an internal community that strengthens an offline community.

Olivier advised the use of a scarcity model.  By starting with a small number of highly engaged community members, the community would provide tremendous value to those within it and be seen as desirable by those outside of it.  (Think Pinterest, when it was still operating in its invitation-only model.)  I wondered if the JLS members in attendance at the sectional would be a good incubator for starting a community of Junior League members.  I considered the potential scope of the community: perhaps the personal growth that comes from civic leadership, or maybe the challenges of balancing personal, professional, and volunteer commitments.

I’m getting ready to embark on a Caribbean cruise without ready access to the internet.  (Seriously?)  I have ample time to ponder these questions and more, but while asking whether the JLS and its members would benefit from an online community, I will keep one comment from our recent #CMGRclass hangout in the front of my mind:

It always pays to start small and grow big. – Jenn Pedde

Belize Beach

(Featured image from Flickr user cameraburps.  Puzzle pieces image from Flickr user designmilk.  Belize beach image from Flickr user JessieHarrell.  Other images by author.)

Five Ways to Love Thy Community

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and love is in the air. It’s the perfect time to reflect on how certain community management skills are exactly like good personal relationship skills. In fact, I would assert that managing a community is like being in a long distance relationship. Here are five reasons why.


1. They Need You Around

Just as your girlfriend in Ohio wants to hear from you more than once a month, your community needs a steady reminder that you’re there for them. A good, strong community is one where the manager is paying attention to needs, and doing what they can to meet them. Your community will notice if you’re absent, and that probably won’t be a good thing. Sticking around and showing you’re invested in the relationship is a great way to keep everybody happy.

2. Communication Is Key

Let’s face it, every relationship has its fair share of miscommunications, but in a community, it’s hugely important to keep people in the loop. Without encouraging your community to speak up about their likes, dislikes, interests, and need, and without speaking up on behalf of your organization, both parties will be in the dark. That leads to resentment, a sense of neglect, and a community manager who doesn’t know why members are leaving the group. Don’t lose touch!

3. Listen!

You’ve got two ears and one mouth, use them in that order! Listening is a huge part of any good relationship, and it is indispensable in community management. Listening to your members, including (especially) when they’re not talking directly to you, will reveal what your strong suits are, where you’re falling short, where you could totally wow your community, and far more. Listening is a constant, active part of being a good community manager, but its importance cannot be stressed enough. Many tough situations can be solved by listening more to inform your course of action. How will you ever know if she wants a diamond or an emerald if you don’t listen?

4. They Need to Know They’re Special

You’d never forget your spouse’s name, why would you ever forget the name of a community member? Now, of course, if you’re working with hundreds or thousands of people, that’s not exactly practical, but every community member should be treated like an individual. Every interaction should make them feel like they’re important to you, as if they’re getting the VIP treatment. When a customer gets a sense that they’re number 6 in line, or account number 33295, they know they’re not a person to your organization. But when you take the time to address their needs and concerns, or even go beyond what was expected, they know that the both of you are human beings, and they’ll walk away impressed.

5. A Little Romance Goes A Long Way

There’s nothing like coming home to a dozen roses you weren’t expecting, or having your loved one take you to lunch unannounced. A community can stay alive with typical everyday interaction and support, but it does not thrive unless it knows it means something to your organization. Arrange a special event or giveaway without announcing anything. Have a customer appreciation day and feature your community members. Show them how much you love them, and ask nothing in return. Whisper sweet nothings into their ears, and capture not just their attention, but their hearts. Community members can love their community just as much as you do, so help them find a little romance to keep them coming back.

A little love goes a long way

A little love goes a long way

How are you showing your community you love them this month?

Shhhhh… Listen

listen first with social media

Image appears on: http://www.therenegadeblog.com/using-social-media-to-listen

The theme of this past week’s #CMGRClass was “Listening to Your Audience or Community.”  In Buzzing Communities, Richard Millington talks about the crucial need to understand key aspects of a community and its members, including

  • who its members are and what they do (“who”);
  • the social media platform platforms used by members (“where” and “how”);
  • the knowledge base, edges, and gaps of members (“what”);
  • the issues cared about by members (“what” and “why”); and
  • the motivations and aspirations of members (“why”).

These community characteristics will help drive the determination of its audience, tools, content, and more.  In his book, Millington says, “The important step is to understand what members want and know how to take that information and apply it to practical activities within the community.”  In other words, knowing the “five Ws” “four Ws and the H” will better inform the delivery of effective content and assist in its application to audience engagement.

Another quote from Millington particularly struck me: “Too many communities launch and then struggle to grow their audience, attract members, and sustain high levels of participation.”  He goes on to explain two possible causes, an inaccurate concept resulting in a meager audience, or lack of engagement by existing community members.

Reflecting on these concepts, I couldn’t help but relate them to experience with a local non-profit organization that I nearly wrote about last week, but edited out for length.  In my discussion of the differences between social media management and community management, I characterized Upstate New Yorkers for Nebraska as an accidental community, but originally had also classified the Junior League of Syracuse as a reluctant community.

Case study: The Junior League of Syracuse

The Junior League of Syracuse, Inc. (JLS) is a volunteer-based women’s leadership development and community impact organization.  As part of its overall communications strategy, the JLS has slowly waded into an increasing number of online outlets and now has a blog and a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Storify, Pinterest, and Instagram.  The JLS has multiple audience segments for its social network sites, including current and potential members, community partners (e.g., local not-for-profit organizations) and supporters.

I manage the JLS’ social media sites and am occasionally stymied with audience response to posts, particularly from members.  The JLS is in the business of doing good: delivering training and education opportunities to allow its members to develop as civic leaders, and collaborating with other non-profits on efforts that promote health and wellness for at-risk families.  To raise funds for its mission, the JLS holds an annual holiday market, Holiday Shoppes.  When reviewing recent engagement on the JLS’ Facebook page, I realized that the highest degree of engagement had to do with Holiday Shoppes, not mission-critical activities like its member development programs or community partnerships, because it was a shared experience across all audience segments.

The Path Forward

About a year and a half ago, the JLS brought in as member training a Junior League-affiliated speaker.  Janet Wieland of Solutions Provided identified volunteer organizations as a prospective “third place”.  This term was coined by urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg in his 1999 book The Great Good Place to characterize locations where people gather outside the traditional environments of their homes and workplaces (the first and second places, respectively).  Janet challenged the JLS to make itself a third place, meeting not only the social needs of its members, but also delivering a sense of personal fulfillment.

This week I was struck by how Janet’s challenge can extend beyond the physical spaces in which the JLS operates to its online communities as well.  If its community managers can listen to members – understanding the platforms they use, the issues they care about, their aspirations to help build a better Syracuse – the JLS’ online communities have an opportunity to become more vibrant and fulfilling to members.