Tag Archive for online community

3 Ways to Avoid Annoying, Offending or Alienating Your Online Community

This week’s topic for class was “Listening and Planning” and it got me thinking; we’ve talked about ways to grow your community and ways to interact with them but what are some basic do nots when it comes to maintaining an online community?

1) To delete or not to delete, that is the question.

Image Courtesy of Search Engine People Blog.

Deleting tweets is something politicians and celebrities have gotten in the habit of doing recently. While I completely understand wanting to delete an ill-advised or offensive tweet, others would highly suggest you didn’t.

Over the summer Andy Beal, author of “When should you delete that tweet?” put together three handy lists one can use to see if the deletion of a tweet is a good idea:

Probably Not:

  • Typos show your human, it’s okay to leave them
  • If different team members tweet the same thing, it shows you care

Probably Should:

  • Duplicate tweets, don’t clog up the newsfeed
  • Tweeted something to the wrong account, tweeted something on work that should have gone to personal (this one is a constant fear of mine because I have my phone set up so I can shift between the two easily)

Absolutely Should:

  • Account was hacked, explain and move on
  • An employee tweeted something without permission, delete and if it gained a lot of attention address it and move on

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve seen however comes from Thompson Reuters as part of their Twitter Guidelines for their journalists, “If a tweet is wrong don’t delete but correct it with a new tweet that begins CORRECTED:

2) Favoring your community over others.

Patrick’s article, “Do Your Community’s User Guidelines Only Protect People You Like?” does a good job of explaining what that entails by asking the question, “do they [your community guidelines] apply to people your community doesn’t like, just like they apply to your members?”

Patrick explains that most communities have guidelines that deal with respect, no personal attacks or disrespectful comments, but sometimes those guidelines start and end with the community members. He gives the example, “I can’t call a member of your community stupid. But, I can call a celebrity or politician stupid.”

Patrick stresses that as a community manager when you say that no disrespectful comments will be tolerated you follow up on that. He follows this statement up by acknowledging that this,

“Puts me in the position of protecting people who I don’t like or even who I regard as terrible, awful human beings…But my belief is that we should be able to discuss any topic (that is appropriate for our community) in a productive, reasonable way. You can dislike what someone does, you can criticize their actions, you can disagree with them – without calling them names, without inflammatory language, without personal attacks. That is the level of discourse I aim for.”

3) Like us, Like us, Like us!

This is what you sound like.

Deb Neg, author of “How to Annoy Your Community and Ruin Your Brand’s Reputation in the Process,” prefers to go the “least annoying, least invasive, [and] most respectful” route possible when spreading knowledge about a company. For example, she refuses to direct message someone via Facebook or Twitter. (“Here’s when it’s ok to auto spam all the people who follow you on Twitter to ask them to Like your Facebook page: NEVER.”)

She points to an article from Assist Social Media by Elizabeth Maness, “One Cool Trick to Get Facebook Likes that We Love,” as a collection of things NOT to do to earn likes. One example being DM (direct messaging) a person on Twitter and sharing your brand’s Facebook URL and asking the person to like it for you by offering to like the person’s page back.

Instead, Ng suggests alternative ways to “earn” Facebook likes:

  • Share content people are interested in. Make your page interesting, informative and entertaining. Have them coming back for more.
  • It’s fine to publically ask them to find you on Facebook if they’re interested in getting more updates.
  • Show your community members where they can find you (“follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for more updates!”)

These are just some of the no-no’s I’ve come across when it comes to managing an online community. Can you think of any others? In the comments below either share a story of something you came across in dealing with a company or a trend you’ve noticed happening.

Community Manager – A Job Description

community womanagerThis new(ish) and exciting career has many people asking the question – “What exactly is a Community Manager and what do they do?”  Most of my friends have no clue what my position entails, so I will direct them to this post for the answers. Most people know it has something to with social media but that is the extent of it. This is my attempt to explain what it is that community managers do.

Community management is an art not a science! First of all and most importantly, Community Managers connect people with other people around a common interest or brand. This is done both internally in a business and externally with consumers (B2C) or other businesses (B2B). It is the role of the Community Manager to connect people and help them to develop relationships based on common interests and then facilitate initial conversations with the goal of allowing relationships to be built. This is done both online and offline, in person. This relationship building is the core of the Community Managers responsibility, after all if there is no community there is no need for a community manager.

After the community, there are many other responsibilities that are delegated to the Community Manager such as:

face of brand

  • BE the FACE of the brand – because the primary function of the community manager is to connect and build relationships they are the face that people associate with the brand. When the community has a real, live person that they communicate with, they see that person as the brand. The community manager is the living, breathing, talking version of a brand.
  • Content creation – based on knowledge of the community’s interests the community manager will write blog posts, make videos, write newsletters or other wise engage on social media platforms based on the brand’s direction and the interest of the community members.
  • Analytics – use of  measuring devices is the the best way to monitor the effects of your campaigns. By setting goals and monitoring the data it will be easy to see where adjustments need to be made in your marketing plan. What should be measured will vary from brand to brand.
  • Social media marketing – use online tools to do effective outreach, i.e. Twitter, Facebook (what is the value of a like?), YouTube, Instagram or other relevant products. The community manager is much like the conductor of an orchestra bringing all of the individual components together to “make beautiful music”. Community-Manager
  • Event planner – because communities thrive when they have a deeper connection, it is the responsibility to plan ways for them to meet live and in person. By planning events to promote the brand and connect people, the community manager looks for relevant ways to get the party started.

The role of community manager goes well beyond these basics. Great communication skills are a must! The community manager must work with internal departments of brand to be the voice of the community and to coordinate effective marketing strategies. For this reason, they have outgoing, friendly personalities, good writing and speaking skills and posses a passion for the product or brand they represent.  They must also posses excellent time management skills, the ability to multitask and be someone who can remain calm under pressure. After all, we are talking about a group of people expressing opinions. There will be times when tempers may flare or inappropriate comments may be made and you will be the one responsible for calming the waters.

To wrap this all up, a community manager is a brand advocate, engagement expert, data center, builder of relationships internally and externally,builds community with online tools and offline events,  represents community members’ interests, works on marketing with the help of all departments, and uses analytics to measure success or make adjustments. The primary function is to engage users to create community! What are the results? Happy customers!!

So, do you think you have what it takes to be a community manager? Want more contact with other community managers? Check in on Twitter.

How to Measure Success Within Your Community

This week’s #cmgrclass topic is measuring social media metrics effectively and efficiently. We were assigned to watch two videos in addition to class readings. Those include, How to Use Data for Better Online Community Management with Rich Millington and a webinar (#bizmetrics) that featured four community managers sharing their insight on social media metrics.

According to Rich Millington social media metrics should follow three key steps growth, level of activity, and sense of community. He suggests using a data-driven approach to clearly see and analyze what really matters when it comes to the growth and development of your community. It is important is see what is contributing to the success or failure of your community, therefore, allowing ample opportunity for improvement.

photo

 http://www.flickr.com/photos/23148333@N06/4907723672/

Millington says that tracking data teaches the theory of where to go next. It provides the community manager with a guideline as to what to do next. He suggests finding out the ROI of your community. Being able to answers questions like “how does the online community enhance the company?” is useful in developing ways to better utilize the platforms on which you have an existence. Millington says if your answer to the stated question is solely engagement, you may need to reevaluate. Engagement does not lead to sales. Your online community should be connected to the areas where you are actively seeking results. Know exactly what it is that you’re measuring.

Gain better insight into what your community members are looking for out of an online experience. Don’t be afraid to ask what their hopes and aspirations are regarding the topic you’re tackling. Find out what challenges and successes they’ve encountered within the topic you’re covering. This will help you better generate content. Millington distinguishes between product strategy and social media strategy. Naturally, if you’re selling products, you need to ask specific questions to make sure you product is providing the needs and desires of your client base. Social media strategy is centered around engagement, but with a specific focus that will generate revenue or improve the company in ways that enhance the overall reputation.

Community managers should be proactive as opposed to being reactive. Millington says 90% of community managers’ time is dedicated to being reactive. This includes monitoring what’s happening in the community, responding to emails and comments, resolving conflict that arises among community members, etc. These things are essential but do not contribute to proactively developing the community. You’re simply working to maintain the current community, not advance it. There’s much value in being proactive. Develop of plan of action for achieving goals within your community. Once your community reaches a critical mass, your goals should be shifting from the micro to the macro level. If you’re still waiting for your critical mass, don’t patiently wait for people to visit your platform. Go market to the right people. Create a set of goals for yourself based on the results you discover from analyzing your data. Measurement isn’t the goal, but getting information that helps influence your business decisions and learning how to invest your time is crucial.

Share with the #cmgrclass which tools you use to measure success within your community.

Justifying Your Community Through Meaningful Data

question markWhy do we create online communities?

This week we are concentrating on the topic of metrics and how it can justify the expenditures of creating an online community. According to Richard Millington’s book “Buzzing Communities”, many organizations develop online communities in order to meet objects that aren’t suited for communities. An example of such an objective is to reach new audiences with the intent of them buying a certain product or service.

Such objectives raise questions on why would someone participate in a community for a product (or service) that they currently don’t buy? How do you attract new customers? Initially, you don’t, according to Millington, you should concentrate on your existing customers. If you create a community of your existing customers, they may bring in their acquaintances, friends or family, ultimately bringing new customers to your community.

Once you have an established community, you can begin analyzing its behavior. Monitoring is vital to justifying the amount of resources that you are spending on the community’s development and maintenance. According to Harry Gold’s article, some of the social media ROI metrics that are commonly used by companies include:

  • Engagement Rates: Ultimately, this is a clear indication of the community participant’s loyalty to your company. Loyalty can potentially result in repeat purchases and new customers through their own recommendations. In Harry’s examples, engagement rates metric is the total amount of Facebook likes and comments divided by the total fan count.
  • “Talking about this”: This is a “buzz metric” that indicates how many people are talking about you on Facebook. Can provide insight on how well a marketing campaign is being received by your audience.
  • Facebook Reach: Metric that Facebook generates based on the organic, viral and paid searches. This metric is very useful for determining how well each of your registered search terms are being utilized by community members.

The items above I believe are some of the most important metrics to use while justifying the costs of an online community. Engagement rates are vital, these indicate loyalty between customers that are participating in your online community. These are just some of the metrics that can be used to show upper management how important community management can be.

Reflection: My Own Experiences

During my time working with a previous employer’s marketing department, I gained some experience with tracking conversion through our social networking presence and public website. Through our consulting agency, we were able to track how many people interacted with our Facebook and Twitter page. Once we had a detailed view of who had been using our social media pages, we were then able to link the person to an appointment in our system, thus linking actual revenue to our online community.

Our ability to link our customer engagement to a specific dollar amount was instrumental in justifying our significant costs to upper management. Incurred costs included the day-to-day maintenance of our Twitter feed and Facebook page, along with general updates to our public website. Overall, this was a great learning experience on how to explain the value of investing in an online community.

Brand Ambassadors as Champions

This week, #CMGRclass learned about brand ambassador programs.  In 10 Things to Remember When Creating a Brand Ambassador Program, Mack Collier outlines key considerations when establishing a brand ambassador program.  I’ve paraphrased them here, grouping them into the themes of program planning, administration, and sustainability.

  • Planning: up-front planning is key to a successful brand ambassador program.  Identify brand ambassadors using both online and offline communications (#2).  More does not equal better: a small number of passionate advocates is more powerful than a small number of fans (#3).  Internal communication within the brand is as important as external communication to brand advocates (#1).
  • Administration: brand ambassadors are motivated by access.  “Make membership exclusive” (#4).  Reward your advocates with exclusive perks (#6).  Provide your ambassadors with access to high-level executives (#7).
  • Sustainability: Facilitate connections with and between brand advocates (#5).  “Create a feedback loop between the brand abmassadors and the brand” (#8).  Empower ambassadors to identify other potential brand advocates (#9).  Transfer ownership of the program from the brand to its ambassadors (#10).

Brand Ambassador Wordle

Royal Champions

One of the central themes of #CMGRclass has been “the who.”  Just as considerable time should be devoted to identifying the audience of an online community, time must be invested in determining who a brand’s ambassadors should be.

Previously, I wrote about how Royal Caribbean cruise line could more effectively engage its customers online.  Despite recent headlines (Carnival Triumph, anyone?), the cruise industry is growing and extremely competitive.  While many repeat cruisers hop between different lines, others are extremely loyal, sticking to one cruise line or even a particular ship.  Surely Royal Caribbean would benefit from developing and nurturing a brand ambassador program, right?

It turns out that Royal Caribbean has already done exactly that.  In 2007, Royal Caribbean partnered with Nielsen Buzz Metrics to identify 50 frequent supporters in online communities.  These individuals, dubbed Royal Champions, received exclusive benefits, including access to company executives and free cruises on pre-inaugural sailings.  Here’s where subsequent reports and analysis seem to vary, though.  Some sites applauded the move, applauding Royal Caribbean’s move to understand online sentiment and potentially influence online conversation.  Others called foul, saying Royal Caribbean crossed the line by granting incentives in exchange for positive reviews.

This is sticky.  As Tamar Weinberg writes in her positive post, When is Brand Evangelism a Crime? Exploring the Royal Caribbean Promotional Marketing Strategy, Royal Caribbean (most accurately, its consultant) did the work to monitor online channels, listening to supporters and detractors alike, identifying its most “ardent supporters.”  However, as Anita Dunham-Potter explains in Paid cheerleaders: Does Royal Caribbean’s viral campaign cross the line?, there was significant backlash among online community members not tapped for the elite Royal Champions group, claiming the posts were planted by the cruise line.

Improving Royal Champions

Not knowing whether or not Royal Champions still exists (the most recent search results are dated 2009), Royal Caribbean could evolve the program based on the principles of loyalty and transparency.

  • loyalty roomLoyalty.  As Collier writes in 10 Things to Remember, one key to a brand ambassador program is exclusivity.  Potential brand ambassadors should be identified not solely based on frequency of online posts, but completion of Royal Caribbean cruises.  RCI’s Crown & Anchor program, comprised of repeat cruisers, would be an ideal starting point for identifying potential brand advocates.  These cruisers have demonstrated loyalty to the brand with an important factor: their wallets.
  • TransparencyTransparency.  The extension of benefits to ambassadors should not be predicated on positive endorsement.  Royal Caribbean should want to hear positive and negative feedback from the perspective of their most loyal customers.  As Collier writes, “make special note of the customers that go the extra mile … even if they sound negative.”  To combat potential backlash from consumer sites, brand advocates should openly identify themselves as such in online posts to anticipate accusations of “pay-for-play.”

What do you think about Royal Caribbean’s Royal Champions program?  Was it ahead of its time, as Weinberg suggests?  Or, was the program too opaque, as Dunham-Potter argues?

(“Loyalty” image by Flickr user untitledprojects; “Transparency” image by Flickr user jaygoldman.  Featured image and Wordle by author.)

Placing Value On Your Community

In Community: The Inbound Resource You Forgot About, Jennifer Sable Lopez of SEOmoz discusses the value of online community to a business or organization’s inbound marketing outposts.  Whether it be content, blogging (including earned media through blogger outreach), or social media, community is the common theme among inbound or referring resources.  As Lopez states, “…our community (whoever that may be for your particular organization) is right there, standing tall.”

Community DefinitionLopez’ article stuck with me throughout this week because it almost serves as a microcosm of #CMGRclass itself: it supports concepts we’ve talked about in earlier weeks (see: Listening to Your Community, Building a Community From Scratch, Planning a Community) while touching upon topics coming up in the future (see: Ambassador Programs, Metrics).  She poses the question, “What should “community” mean to you?” and offers potential roles that members of a community can play.  For me, coming from the perspective of a not-for-profit organization, a community is an organization’s brand advocates (both lovers and, at times, critics), members, sharers of content, and sometimes, even content generators.

The Value of Community

Given the multitude of roles that an online community can play, it’s no surprise that community is vitally important to a business or organization.  While it can be difficult to place a tangible value on a community, Lopez offers these thought-provoking questions as a multi-step process of determining a community’s value.

  1. Figure out who the community is in your organization.  Who are they?  What do they care about?  What online properties do they visit?  Why do you care?  A community manager can answer these questions by examining web/blog analytics, Facebook Insights, and website signup data.
  2. Figure out what your community really cares about.  Do they simply want a daily email update?  Will they share community content?  Will they visit your forums?  There’s only one way to get to the root of these questions: ask the community.  Information can be gathered from a survey sent via email or a poll added to a website/blog or social media site.
  3. Determine how much time/energy/money you’re putting into your community.  Where are you, as community manager, spending your time?  Creating blog content?  Managing social media sites?  Gathering and examining analytics?  Are you paying someone to help in one or more of these areas?  It’s critical to know where resources are being allocated now so that they can be adjusted going forward.
  4. Are you spending your time/energy on the things your community actually cares about?  At the intersection of identifying your community and their interests and determining where energy is currently being directed is a sweet spot: are these three factors aligned?  Will your hard work in one area pay off given the interests or preferences of the community?  (Lopez’ example of Twitter particularly hit home for me, as I have recently come to a similar conclusion for at least one of the non-profits with which I’m involved.)
  5. Rinse and repeat.  These four steps are not a one-time process.  Instead, Lopez advises, “Don’t stop simply because you found something that works for now.  The biggest takeaway here is also that you need to determine what works for YOU.”

Near the end of the article, Lopez discusses the value of community to her company, saying in step 5, “Because without our amazing community, we’re just another software company.”  What is your community to you?  What intangible value do they bring to your business or organization?

(Embedded image by Flickr user DragonBe.  Featured image by Flickr user Newfrontiers.)

What to Think About Before you Comment

Friends in Circle

Image courtesy of Savit Keawtavee FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Have you ever read a community post and wondered, “What was that person thinking?” or more likely “Why wasn’t that person thinking?” While the onus is often placed on the community manager to deal with all kinds of crude or thoughtless posts, maybe it’s time that we all helped improve the constructiveness of our community dialogue by thinking more before we “speak.” While I realize that I risk “preaching to the choir”, here are some filters that I personally attempt to put my messages through before sending them out.

Who can Hear my Message?

Recently, according to Forbes, two attendees at a tech conference conference were talking to each other using crude sexual innuendos. The person in front of them was offended, snapped a picture of them, and posted it on Twitter with their comments. Needless to say things only got worse from there. One key learning from this is that whether we’re speaking to the person next to us in public or posting to a private forum on the internet, we need to think about who might “overhear” our message, and realize that it may go beyond our intended audience. The more public and unknown the potential audience is, the more conservative we need to be when formulating our message. We also need to moderate our messages based on how much trust we have in the privacy controls of our internet provider, social media platform, and our fellow community members. Even if the technology platforms are completely “secure” and “roped off” there is always the chance that a community member could repeat what we have said elsewhere, so remember to “let the buyer beware”, because there is no guarantee of privacy on the internet.

What Community Standards do I need to live up to?

Even if we have chosen a community that has good privacy controls and feel comfortable relying upon these controls, there is still the need to learn and follow the standards of a particular community. The best way to do this is to listen for a while until we understand the tone of the community. We need to watch what the community manager allows or doesn’t allow and observe how the more esteemed members of the community conduct themselves. Too often “free speechers” will join a community and declare their right to loudly express their opinions. Yes, it’s a free country, and no one knows you’re really sitting at your computer in your pajamas, so you have this powerful feeling of anonymity, but please don’t post your personal right-wing/left-wing political manifesto every other day; please don’t bait and make personal attacks against your community arch-nemesis; and please do try to support your ideas with logical, well-thought out arguments instead of resorting to name calling. Just as some professional sport announcers have to practice in order to avoid swearing on air, we need to filter ourselves and practice living up to the standards set by our communities. Obviously, these may differ from community to community, which is why it’s important to listen and observe these standards before going overboard. Again, when in doubt, err on the side of conservatism, even if it means deleting some of the best lines from that colorful rebuttal you have written. And remember the admonition of your mother, “If you don’t have anything good to say”, don’t say anything at all”.

Does my Message Construct Match my Medium?

Maybe I’m showing my age on this one, but I still believe we need to choose the right medium for the message and construct the message in the format appropriate for the medium (and of course, the intended audience). To me there is a continuum of mediums whose proper use depends at least partially upon the formality or informality of the medium as well as the context of the message. It’s OK to use “u”, “2”, and “8” as words in text messages, but as we move up the food chain to more formal mediums (e.g. formal blogs, business emails, business community forms), we need to use our best formal language skills. Twitter and Facebook appear to be more informal on the surface, but business pages and business targeted communications using these mediums require more formalized encoding of our messages than firing off a text does. If we all put more time into thinking before we speak or hit “send/post”, the world could be a better place for all of our communities.

What filters do you put your messages through before submitting your posts? What filters would you like to see others put their posts through?

Content Drives Community (Drives Content)

“Content is king.” – so goes the oft-uttered saying.  While the phase seems to be derived from an article by Bill Gates, I’ve come across the phrase in #RotoloClass, #NunesClass, and now #CMGRClass.  Although the specific venue within which this rule is most applicable may be debated – websites vs. blogs vs. SEO vs. online communities vs. social media sites – the importance of creating compelling content that resonates with audiences should not be dismissed on any platform.

In Chapter 3 of “Buzzing Communities,” Richard Millington addresses the role of content within an online community.  Millington compares an online community to a much older communications medium, the local newspaper, by discussing three ways the latter serves its community:

  • Establish a social order and narrative: identify the news items and individuals that are most newsworthy of readers’ attention
  • Inform and entertain: balance news and events with entertainment items
  • Develop a sense of social community: serve as consensus and determinant of community opinion

A local newspaper has a critical role in informing its community while establishing context among news items and individuals within the community.  Millington goes on to argue that online communities would be well-served in using local newspapers as a model for developing content.  He provides the following goals of content: create a community narrative, encourage regular readership, develop a sense of community, establish social order, and influence action within the community.

Whereas a content site may deliver the latest information about a topic or organization, prompting visitors to read or consume the content, Millington states that a community site “will provide information for members, establish a social order and facilitate strong bonds and heightened sense of community”, encouraging readers to participate and engage in conversation around the content.  It is content about the community that most resonates with members.

#MeetTheJLS

In July 2012, I became the first Online Engagement Chair for the Junior League of Syracuse.  Earlier that year, while serving as Communications Vice President and recognizing the increasing importance of an online presence in today’s world, I had lobbied for the creation of the role.  Personally, I was struggling to balance my duties at VP while managing the organization’s website and social media properties.  Around the same time, I was a #RotoloClass student, learning all about the importance of social media in engaging in two-way conversation.

Out of #RotoloClass, the idea of a blog post series entitled “Meet the JLS” was born, in which Junior League of Syracuse leaders would be profiled to demonstrate the spectrum of women who make up the JLS and humanize the organization as individual faces behind its logo.  (Little did I know at the time that this series would help to further many of Millington’s content goals, including developing a sense a community, aspirational spotlighting, and influencing activities and behaviors!)

JLS on TumblrI entered the current JLS year completely jazzed about the new blog post series.  To date, five interviews have been conducted and three profiles published (example at right).  Feedback was good, including from the organization’s leadership and membership, as well as from sister Junior Leagues who saw the posts on Twitter using the #MeetTheJLS hashtag.  However, to say that “Meet the JLS” has stagnated since the fall would be a kind understatement.  What happened? – any number of things, on a range of organizational to personal levels (competing priorities, lack of enthusiasm from participants, scheduling difficulties…).  As the time increasingly grew since the last post or interview, frustration slowly turned to indifference.

Moving Forward

The best content for a community is content about the community.  When I read Millington’s quote about the importance of community-based content, it was like a huge light bulb illuminating over my head and an Oprah “aha moment,” all rolled into one.  I immediately flashed back to the excitement of completing my first profile.  Now, I hope to reshape some of my priorities and elevate the blog post series within them, knowing that the content will add to members’ sense of place within the community, and perhaps even promote aspirations to be one of the women profiled in the series.

Do you belong to a community that is particularly inclusive?  What makes you feel part of that community?

(Featured image by Flickr user Cubosh.)

Time Spent Well with Olivier Blanchard

sm ROI

Olivier Blanchard was our guest this week in class, who is the author of one of our text books, “Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization.”

Silos and Company Culture

Olivier discussed how certain companies may be divided into various departments or “silos” that can create certain political issues when attempting to pursue a social media initiative. Other dysfunctions include operational issues and lack of insight on what social media is, leading to inadequate funding or incorrect hiring. Another major issue that was mentioned is the lack of training throughout the silos that make up an organization – some departments or teams may not have the understanding of how to use social media tools.

I definitely agree that to implement social media in a company you should have support from executive leadership. Olivier mentioned that culture is extremely difficult to change and is a gradual process. Gaining buy-in from individual silos throughout the organization through implementing social media in their various processes is a great way to start. Showing how social media can meet their needs and improve their business at the department level can gradually “bubble up” to top leadership.

Based on my own experiences, I have seen that executive leadership concentrates on generating revenue through their mainstream business processes. Generally speaking, executives do not care how social media can help with their business, it is up to community managers and social media experts to show them how it can generate revenue and/or cut costs. The lack of understanding by top management and the mentality of “just get it done now” can lead to extremely frustrating work environment where the end result is an inefficient social media implementation.

Noteworthy Discussion Points

There were several questions that were asked during the discussion with Olivier that I thought were very good takeaways. One of the questions asked related to a boss that had no idea what metrics they wanted for a Twitter account they were using for PC support. Olivier provided some straight-forward questions to ask the boss to determine the metrics, but the biggest take away that I go from it was that “if a manager cannot tell you why you are doing something or how it should be measured for success, then there is something wrong with them.” I completely agree with this statement and have found myself asking this question to my previous manager.

I was lucky enough to have one of my questions answered by Olivier. Using agencies to handle your online social media presence seemed to be a generally accepted practice according to Olivier. I found it very interesting that some agencies bring a client’s resource in-house to manage direct communications with their customers. Other agencies seemed to only sell content creation and publishing services, which is not online community management.

Overall, I thought the hangout included a great discussion with some useful information sharing.  Did you watch the hangout?  What did you think?

If You Build It, They Will Come

Taken by realbruts in August, 2009

Taken by realbruts in August, 2009

This week in #cmgrclass one of the key concepts discussed was the importance of authenticity behind building up a brand name and presence. In this kommein piece written by Deb Ng, the author laments over the intrusive and forceful tactics some organizations employ to grow their online communities.  Namely, she lambasts certain organizations for using DM and inbox on Twitter and Facebook, respectively, to ask individuals to “like” a certain page.

Soliciting likes via private messaging is akin to insurance companies soliciting products via knocking on your front door. It’s intrusive. It’s mildly uncomfortable. And the receiving party feels unduly pressured to endorse a product or service he probably doesn’t want.

In her post What Not to do When Using Social Media for Business, Alyssa Gregory dedicates four of her seven “what not to dos” to items related to Ng’s initial pet peeve. Gregory suggests:

  1. DO NOT Spam Your Fans, Followers, Circles
  2. DO NOT Share Too Much
  3. DO NOT Self-Promote All the Time

By following these three commandments, an organization may avoid being absolutely horrible and learn to build trust authentically.

So if you’re not supposed to directly ask for people to like or endorse your online brand representation, what exactly are you supposed to do? This question leads me to my theory of If You Build it, They Will Come (yes I took poetic license with the name adaptation, but it’s applicable as much here as it was in Field of Dreams).

If you manage the community for a brand, the best way to build up a community around that brand is to identify the target demographic of your brand and then create content and conversation that appeals to that demographic while also properly representing the brand. If you can accomplish this, community members will organically be drawn to the brand in question. Aka, if you build it, they will come.

Let’s use Zappos as an example here. In her blog post How Zappos makes social media a part of its company culture, Susan Rush opens with “When it comes to social media,Zappos.com just gets it.” And get it, they do. As a company that started as a small startup with almost no community, as it grew it built its presence by engaging in authentic conversation and creating content that not only had to do with its own product and overall brand, but also appealed to its demographic.

“But how did they do it”?, you may ask. According to Zappos’ Thomas Knoll, their success comes from implementing the “social media policy [of] be yourself and don’t be stupid.” No inboxing strangers. Not DMing Twitter users with a high Klout score. Just plain old authenticity. And from there, a community was built.