Community Management Thoughts and Challenges for 2014

allygreer
Ally Greer Community Manager, Scoop.it

Posted on January 28th 2014

Community Management Thoughts and Challenges for 2014

In 2013, the field of community management expanded more than ever. According to The Community Roundtablethe average community manager has 3.7 years of experience. Just imagine how many more companies are employing community managers now than in 2010!

Some may ask, what does it take to be a community manager? The Altimeter Group has an answer to that.

Interestingly, writing is the top skill that companies look for in community managers. Based on my experience at Scoop.it, I can certainly affirm this stat. Over the last two years, I have written more than I ever thought I would, especially for professional reasons.

I’ve found that content is an integral part of community management as it’s a way to connect with others over ideas and shared interests. From writing blogposts to product copy, marketing and community emails to curated microblogging, I’ve been able to connect with the Scoop.it community in ways that I never would have thought. The fact of the matter is, if you’re not writing, then you’re probably not too visible. And If you’re not visible, then it’s likely that your community will have a hard time relating to you.

Community managers, I challenge you to write more in 2014. Write a blogpost, create a curated blog about something your community is interested in, write a weekly email to your customers. Words are one of the most powerful means of connecting with people, and isn’t that really what community management is all about?

(And hey! Join me at 3pm PST for a live panel talking about building communities with content!)

Before moving on, I think the skill of reporting is also necessary to address. Having had many conversations with countless community managers over the last two years, I’ve found that this is actually one of the most difficult parts of the job. I’ve head from many of my peers that they have a difficult time proving the value of their position to the rest of their company, namely those who directly manage them.

I’m extremely lucky to work for a social, community-focused company who values community management and makes it a part of everything they do. Because of this, I’ve been able to learn a lot about what metrics are important to focus on and how to leverage them to define success.

The most important part of reporting and analyzing success, in my experience, has been the identification of specific objectives. It’s impossible to report when you’re not entirely sure what you’re reporting on in the first place. It’s also a common mistake to simply gather data and present it in a semi-organized fashion and stick a label on that that says “Reports.” Unsurprisingly, this leaves much to be desired for business-minded leaders looking for results.

Community managers, I challenge you to define objectives and analyze them specifically in 2014. When I first started my job at Scoop.it, I wasn’t even sure what exactly a community manager was. During the first few reporting periods of my employment, I went with the “gather-miscellaneous-data-and-share-it” approach. This made it difficult not only for the rest of the team, but for me to quantify my success. Two years later, my team and I have developed a system of defining overly-specific objectives based upon the business goals of the company as well as how we want to work together with our community. This helps focus my daily workflow and priorities, as well as create much more meaningful reports.

Aside from the aforementioned skill sets of community managers, it’s also important to be able to work alongside, and even partake in the activities of, other business departments.

According to a study conducted by The Community Roundtable, the top business departments that community managers work the closest with are marketing and internal & external communications. This may sound like a no-brainer – communication is an integral part of community management – but there are certain parts of these business areas that are often overlooked. For example, I’ve worked closely with the product marketing team at Scoop.it to build new features, mostly as a liaison between the company and the community.

Over two years of working with a very product-centric company and community, I’ve learned the importance of taking user feedback into consideration. Realistically, without users, Scoop.it would not exist. In fact, this mentality can be applied to many companies, and I believe that it’s important for all community managers to remember on a daily basis.

If your customers aren’t happy with your product, they will leave. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they areunhappy with what you have to offer; it might just be that your product or service isn’t meeting their needs. As a community manager, I’ve learned how to actively listen – without necessarily engaging. The information that I can gather from being this listener is invaluable to the product marketing team, resulting in a very close work relationship between myself and them.

Community managers, I challenge you to spend more time with the other departments of your companies in 2014. Not only will the knowledge that you gain from being on the front lines help the rest of your company, but having a closer relationship with other departments will help solve the often-discussed frustrations of community managers feeling disconnected from or misunderstood by other business departments.

I hope you take these three challenges to heart and continue developing as community managers and integral parts of each and every company.

allygreer

Ally Greer

Community Manager, Scoop.it

Ally heads up community, content, and digital marketing for content curation publishing platform Scoop.it. She's a constant explorer of the most effective content and social media strategies and tries not to ever stop learning. For social media marketing & publishing, community management, and content marketing tips, sprinkled with random nerdisms and a pinch of sports, follow Ally on Twitter.

See Full Profile >

Comments

WahibaChair
Posted on January 28th 2014 at 5:14AM

Ally,

I couldn't agree with you more on the 'reporting' aspect. As consultants, strategists and community managers that's usually the only tangible deliverable we can provide our clients, managers etc. to show where we have spent our time; in other words the ROI of hiring us. 

Now reporting as you also say is an art.

Assuming you provide different (monthly?) reports to the departments that you work with, what are some examples of the core elements vs. add ons (e.g. for specific campaign) in these reports?

For instance, for our clients, we first address the growth in reach, engagement, influence, and then elaborate/add based on the goal of the specific period (e.g. clicks for a campaign, entries for a contest etc.)

Just curious - as everyone does this so differently but we find our clients understand and appreciate our reports while we continue to refine them.

Thanks for this refreshing article!

Wahiba @WahibaChair @mediatouchca

allygreer
Posted on January 29th 2014 at 7:15PM

Thanks for reading, Wahiba! I appreciate your kind words.

"Reporting is now an art." I couldn't have said it better myself. :)

Personally, working for a brand rather than for different clients, my work is evaluated once per quarter. Since I work for a startup, it's easy for me to work together with the different departments of my company (we're almost all within a 15 foot vicinity of each other!), so it's easy to get some of their time and define objectives at the beginning and end of each of my reporting periods.

The most important thing about defining the core elements that I'm reporting on for me comes at the beginning of the quarter I'm reporting on. We're constantly moving forward and shifting business goals, and I need to make sure that my community management activities align with these changes and objectives.

The standard features I try to always maintain are global reach, engagement on individual social platforms, engagement on our actual content, number of ambassador activations, number of active users.

Getting a little more specific, if one quarter we really want to focus on in-person activation, I'll focus my reports on events, attendance, and post-event follow up and actions (signups, writeups, etc). If we're going for a support-focused quarter, we'll measure response time and customer satisfaction (through some awesome plugins like Hively or Uservoice).

For content in general, something that's interesting to us isn't only pageviews and engagement on social platforms, but - as I mentioned before - engagement on our platforms. By this, I mean: how many people commented on our blog? How many people shared it? It's one thing to ilke or comment on a post on Facebook or Twitter, but if others share the content straight from our blog it means that they took the time to read it and thought that their audience just had  to do the same.

I'd love to continue the conversation on twiter or via email!! 

Ally

@allygreer | @scoopit | ally@scoop.it