Tag Archive for relationships

Lessons From and Army of Leaders

Words of wisdom. We traditionally look to the older and wiser for advice, but in today’s digital and social world it is often the young and the savvy who can teach us a thing or two about social media and community management. As part of #CMGRClass we had the opportunity to hear from an amazing panel of leaders in community management today, who had advice ranging from how to build an effective brand presence to effectively interacting with individuals in an ever growing online community.

The panel who we had the opportunity to hear from were leaders from names like Vimeo, Policy Mic, Lenovo, and Foursquare. All who offered unique perspectives on community management and social media.

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Common Themes

It’s no surprise that when you put great minds into one room, or one Google Hangout, they’re probably going to think alike. And that was certainly true. One on the main themes that I heard throughout the panel discussion was about connecting with individuals. This goes back to the idea of creating and building meaningful relationships with members of your audience.

Also, building on relationships, it’s important to make your audience feel important – like they matter. Being direct and tailoring your conversation or message was a key takeaway for me.

Furthermore, it’s important to stay grounded as your community grows. While the above may be easy as you are starting your community, as it grows to hundreds and even thousands of followers, staying on track and being true to yourself or brand becomes more and more difficult, but not impossible. That is why it is always important to have a plan.

Make the Audience Feel Special

One notion that stuck in my mind after the talk is that in order to make your audience feel special and keep them coming back, you really need to know your followers and understand them. You need to listen to their questions, comments, concerns and needs, and even better you need to be able to anticipate. Anticipate what they want, what will make them happy, and what will build trust.

Gavin talked about treating people like VIPs. With something like the Foursquare beta program, loyal users have the ability to have an impact on the future of a product, and this empowers them as well as builds a meaningful relationship that is two-way and beyond just a conversation.

I can relate to this having been an early buyer into a new product launching this summer called Coin, which is an electronic credit card device that stores up to 8 cards at once. As an early buyer, not only was I given a 50% discount, but I get frequent updates and access to their VIP site where I can updates on its progress and exclusive information. I don’t even have the device in my hands yet, and I feel “special.”

3 Pieces of Advice

While the panel offered tons of great advice, you would get bored reading an entire synopsis of what they said, so here are my three main pieces of advice to pass along:

  1. Don’t just create a community, build one – build trust, relationships, and recognize those followers who are extra special and loyal to your brand. Do something extra for them.
  2. Be a leader not a follower – unique ideas and a unique personality will set you apart. Those who follow other brands will be behind the curve before they even start. Don’t try to fool the follower, they’re smarter than you think. “Be proactive, not reactive.”
  3. Worry about the numbers, but don’t obsess – Depending on where you are with your community, your numbers might be big or small. What’s more important are the quality of your online relationships. Use metrics to your advantage, but don’t obsess over the numbers

What do you think of the advice? Do you agree or disagree with anything the panel discussed?

Community Management: Now What?!

Whenever things come to a close, I always ask myself “now what”? Now, as we’re nearing the end of the CMGRclass, I find myself asking that same question. I feel like it applies in a few situations based on this week’s readings as well as the course in general.

So… you’re a community manager with a strong, growing community. Now what?!

For new communities, a Community Manager must help create the community and build it from the ground up. Once it hits the ground running and gains some success, the responsibilities of a CM grow larger. It’s exciting when your community becomes successful, but sometimes it means that the CM responsibilities become too much to handle. At some point, you’re going to have to start thinking bigger.

This week, we learned about the importance of scaling and how it will be beneficial to the future success of your community. Once your community is growing out of your own reach, you have to start looking to your community members for help. Richard Millington (FeverBee) suggests implementing processes that scale. The 11 processes he mentioned are as follows:

  • Recruit, train, manage and motivate volunteers.
  • Rewriting guidelines if they are violated too frequently
  • Encourage members receive a prominent by-line in the news article.
  • Setup a community e-mail address which several volunteers can access and reply to.
  • Teach volunteers to recruit and train other volunteers.
  • Ensure members can identify and remove bad posts.
  • Automate members inviting their friends.
  • Let members apply to run various forum categories.
  • Allow members to create their own groups, initiate events, start live-discussions.
  • Start a tradition of regulars welcoming newcomers.
  • Write detailed guidelines for doing your job.
Now what? Be ready for opportunities, and don't be afraid to take them! Taken from http://thecommunitymanager.com/2012/04/23/the-best-and-worst-community-management-job-descriptions/

Now what? Be ready for opportunities, and don’t be afraid to take them!
Taken from http://thecommunitymanager.com/2012/04/23/the-best-and-worst-community-management-job-descriptions/

All of these posts revolve around the same idea: let your community members help you out. Your community members should become ambassadors of the community, and you can rely on them to post content as well as moderate it. It’s a community, so treat it like one. Give your members responsibilities, and reward them for their help. This has two benefits. The members get the sense of pride and accomplishment knowing that they are an influential part of the community, and you get the satisfaction of knowing that the weight is being lifted from your shoulders. Now you have time to focus on thinking of what the community can do next!

So… you just finished CMGRclass and you’re about to graduate. Now what?!

This is one of the best classes I’ve taken at Syracuse. In only a few short months, I feel as though I am prepared to step into the world of Community Management–or at least prepared enough to test the water. Before this class, I will honestly say that I did not know what Community Management was. Now, I’m expanding my job search to include positions in this field. The course has absolutely prepared us with the skills necessary to become successful, but it was also great to read the article dedicated to aspiring Community Managers.

A few of Vadim Lavrusik’s 10 tips really stood out to me.

Be authentic “it’s not just about having a voice, but having an authentic one”. A company can easily set up social media accounts and call it a day. Starting a community is about going the extra mile to be personable and make relationships. This is only possible if you’re true to yourself and you are authentic. No one is interested in joining a community or supporting a brand they cannot relate to. Be more about the people, and more about being yourself, and don’t become a “faceless” brand.

 

Comcast is a great example of "being authentic". They are personable and all about their members! Taken from http://mashable.com/2010/08/21/community-manager-jobs/

Comcast is a great example of “being authentic”. They are personable and all about their members! Taken from http://mashable.com/2010/08/21/community-manager-jobs/

Listen, add value, and build relationships — this goes hand in hand with being authentic. It’s incredibly important to listen to the conversations between members in your community. This is how you’ll gain feedback that can be used to make changes that will better your company or community. Even if you’re not a community manager, these three tips are crucial to success. Building relationships is so important. You never know who will need your help down the road.

Think like an entrepreneur and be quick to adapt — you need to have a vision and be ready for anything. Being quick to adapt was a reoccurring theme this semester and something I can definitely vouch for. This summer, during my internship, I was complimented many times for being ready for anything and able to fix or make changes quickly. A little bit goes a long way.

Lastly, the biggest “now what?!” of all — getting a job!

The job search won’t be fun (or easy), but now I know what to look out for. I know that the job description will reveal a lot about whether or not a company is right for me. If you’re an aspiring Community Manager, you should be confident that your potential employer knows what Community Management is and is utilizing it the right way. For example, if a job description for a CM says “manage social media accounts and that’s about it”, you probably would not be utilizing your talents and skills.

Now what?! For me, I’m not sure, but I’m excited to see where my CMGRclass lessons will take me!

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.

Tips to Gain Brand Loyalty

So you want people to get to know and love your brand. Creating a reason to be loyal is the first step. Traditionally, PR and Advertising have carried this load but the internet has brought a new dimension of contact and influence with online marketing and outreach via social media. We all want to know how to get a big slice of that pie, don’t we? Creating brand loyalty is a giant step towards getting help from your following. Some keys to this are trust and confidence in you and your brand.

 

  •  Do some research to find out where your ambassadors are. Where are people talking about you and what are they saying? This will give you an idea of what motivates them. Ask them about their interests.
  • Encourage your community to give input and state opinions on posts and shared information. Make it relevant to their lives and they will continue to return for more interactions.
  • Find interesting topics for them to interact with each other. This will help in building relationships within the community. We all like to hang out “where everybody knows our name“.
  • Be a part of the action, reply to comments and encourage members to engage.

 

Value by alshepmcr

 

Words of wisdom from Britt Michaelian  – “when the facilitator of the community is thoughtful about making the community about the group and not their own need for a “flock”, the group will respond to the space that the community leader creates for each member of the community to flourish.” This just plain makes sense! Think of your own experiences in an online community and I am sure you will relate to this. Don’t you value being heard and acknowledged, I know I do.

Loyalty comes from a feeling of connection.” [BM]

As the community grows, you will easily identify frequent commentator, brand advocates that are destine to become ambassadors for your brand. These are people that talk to others in the community and out of the community. You will hear and see them on other platforms singing your brands praises and sharing that love with all the world. These are the people you want to recognize and reward. Be sure to thank them publicly and frequently. They will be engaging with other community members (or members to be) and you want them to to nothing but good to say about your brand. You can also have offline meetups where the relationships can grow and the community will become more connected with these vocal brand advocates/ambassadors.

brand ambassador

Find brand ambassadors within your community is one way to get the word out, but there are others. Connecting with communities that share a common interest is another. Take time to chat in be interested in their community and they may very well look into yours. You can also recruit people that blog or write for online publications to become brand ambassadors after you have spent time creating a relationship and finding a fit for both of you. Most importantly, don’t forget the rewards. Rewards don’t need to be extravagant, but they should be meaningful.

 

rewards str8 ahead

 

Be a giver to your community. Offer meaningful rewards and watch your community respond.  Here are some suggestions for rewards:

  • Offer free tickets to an upcoming event that you are having
  • Offer a badge after they recommend people to your community.
  • Create an “ambassador” program that has special events of chats by invitation only
  • Create a points system for referrals to the community

There are many ways to reward you brand ambassadors, just be as creative as you can. If you need more reasons to do this take a look at what this article has to say. Remember, communities are all about relationships. Be yourself, introduce interesting topics and interact with with everyone who comments on your post. This is a sure way to create the experience you and your community are looking for.

“Earned Media” Means Earned Relationships

flickr-alamodestuff

Searching for A Golden Opportunity In the Rubbish

I really appreciate that our readings this week focused so much on the power and importance of relationships between bloggers and product/service representatives (or between PR agents, as idea pitchers, and bloggers.) So much of the spam that I remember getting as an intern and blogger at ShermansTravel.com, a travel website based in New York City, was impersonal, dry (though not for lack of trying, via using lots of exclamation points or big words to describe something unexciting), and not at all engaging. Many were very obviously mass-mailed to as many contacts as the PR company could get its hands on. Most of the time, it seemed like the worst phrasing and pitching seemed to come along with the worst events or offers – like the email blast was such a last-ditch effort for a mediocre product that everyone just lost their motivation and pushed out more less-than-stellar stuff. And the sheer volume of the “garbage” PR spam made it difficult to weed through the bad to find the good opportunities.

In a Perfect World…

The e-book by Evernote frames the creation, facilitation and maintenance of a relationship  between blogger and PR rep as a responsibility that’s largely placed on the PR side. In an ideal world, this is how it should be (ideally, for every single blogger out there in the blogosphere) because it intrinsically means that the blogger’s voice and platform are valued to such an extent that a PR agent is required to devote the energy, time, and sometimes money into convincing them that a subject is worth writing about.

The converse, though, leaves smaller-stage bloggers, with small followings, few fans, and few resources in the dark and unlikely to get a “scoop” about events or new products from public relations firms. As we’ve discussed, it takes a lot of effort and planning to build a reputation and become a “top blogger” – one who receives those quality pitches, with positive relationships attached, from their “suitors.”

The Best PR Rep – Blogger Relationships Will Include:

  • Our readings list a lot of ways that PR reps can demonstrate a blogger’s value:
  • Mentioning them in speaking engagements
  • Following up with “thank you”‘s and feedback
  • Tracking the “outputs” of other bloggers picking up their quality material
  • Engaging and promoting the material as much as possible on social media
  • Compensating the bloggers fairly (and being open about expectations and rewards from the beginning, plus ensuring any material rewards are disclosed in the material)
  • Optimizing the post for search engines
  • Telling a good story, on as many platforms as possible.

Most importantly, I think that the best example with also include an outlook towards bloggers (Ahem. And writers, journalists, photographers, reporters…) as valued partners, who are really in it for the same reasons PR reps are – to produce quality. They are not just a microphone for your message or commodity, and if PR companies appeal to their human side with respect, personal interest and understanding, they can become an invaluable ally and resource.

 

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.

Blog4_Lovebirds

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?