Tuesday Jan 28, 2014

12 Reasons to Feel Awesome About Being a Social Community Manager

The below originally appeared yesterday on the Community Manager Appreciation Day site.  We hope all CM's were given an extra helping of gratitude and had a special day!

jumpI would debate you that the true stars of Social Marketing are the brand Community Managers, except for the fact that such a debate is long over. If you’re not sure how much you appreciate yours, briefly imagine them suddenly vanishing. What would you do? What would all your social properties look like? What would your social communities start saying about you?


Because they’re so due our appreciation, Community Manager Appreciation Day was established in 2010 and held January 27, featuring a 24-hour live hangout with all kinds of topics and experts.  But there's no reason you can't still take the time to thank your CM or sing their praises on social using #CMAD and #CMGR.


Meanwhile, here are just a few reasons Community Managers should also use this time to take stock of everything they bring to the social marketing table.


  • You have been put in the position of being the real-time public voice and representative of the entire brand. Not an agency, not the CEO…you.


  • If you’re good, you’re so in demand you have no idea.


  • You can write! And while that’s something everyone claims to be able to do, the reality is that most either can’t, are lousy at it, or don’t want to do it.


  • It’s highly likely you have one of the best personalities in the building. After all, your job is specifically to not bore people.


  • You know more about your brand’s strengths and weaknesses than your C-suite, and you know about them sooner.


  • You are the wall standing between your brand and a public relations disaster. It’s like Oracle's Erika Brookes likes to say around here, “You can’t teach judgment.”


  • You’re called upon to have nearly every marketing discipline in the book, and all at the same time, and in one position. If you aren’t already, you should start feeling really strong about your career prospects.


  • Yes it’s a hard, all-consuming job, but the good news is the tools are getting better.


  • Trying to describe to people what you do is a great mind exercise!


  • The job is making you thick-skinned. That’s going to serve you very well throughout your life and career.


  • When fans are liking what the brand is doing on social, they’re liking what you are doing. That should be a nice ego boost.


  • You’re learning almost every minute of every day based on what customers do and don’t like, and what does and doesn’t work. You’re internalizing exceptionally good business instincts.


Social marketing, content marketing, digital marketing, influencer marketing…it a very exciting space to be in, and developments keep coming fast and furious. None of it would be possible without you multi-talented, dynamic personalities interacting with the people who matter most, the customers, and for that we are greatly appreciative.


@mikestiles
Photo: freedigitalphotos.net

Tuesday Apr 23, 2013

Easy Ways to Look Really Uncool to Your Fans

sleazeHave you as a brand ever paused to think about what an honor it is for somebody, anybody, to Like your Facebook page or choose to follow your tweets?  Outside of business reasons, how many brands have you followed on social? It’s a big deal for John Q. Public to invite you into their circle of friends and ask to hear from you. What kind of social content are you rewarding them with?

Below are quick, easy ways to immediately make someone regret Liking you. You see, they only want to self-identify with cool companies, and the things below make you markedly uncool.

Posting too much
A bigger issue on Facebook, but even on Twitter, each post should be new, breaking news type info. If you hog feeds, you’ll be seen as “clutter.” People like to clear clutter. Plus there’s no way you’ve got that much A-grade material. I’m not just making this up, a Lab42 study found posting too frequently is the #1 reason users unlike a brand.

Using social as a one-way megaphone
You’re not listening, you’re not responding, in general you’re making your fans feel like they’re there for you and not the other way around. The above study cites bad customer experience as the #3 reason fans dump brands on social. As for not listening, you’re only hurting yourself. 86% of consumer feedback online is being missed by brands, and 70% of marketers collect no social data about their competition.

Desperate selling
Do you really think your fans don’t know you want them to buy your product? So chill out and don’t make every post a breathless pitch. A Vanson Bourne study found 48% don’t want marketing messages at all. Another study (MediaBrix) shows people find ads disguised as content annoying, and 85% said it changed their opinion of the brand negatively if it had an effect at all. Yet…the study also found a great many marketers think this kind of disrespectful fake-out is effective.

Proving you’re uncommitted and/or lazy
Inconsistent posting that swings from radio silence to spammy barrage, auto-DMing that ruins the human-to-human social advantage, connecting social networks so Twitter hashtags show up in your Facebook posts, meaningless posts (“tell us your plans for the weekend!”), using an inhuman corporate voice, all prove to fans that for your brand, social is a pesky afterthought. Considering social makes up just 10% of brands’ digital marketing spend, and annual digital marketing operating budgets were a whopping 2.5% of company revenue in 2012, lack of commitment probably starts at the top.

There are certainly other annoyances: going hashtag crazy, not targeting or mis-targeting offers (studies indicate a 66% increase in engagement with proper targeting), asking fans to jump through hoops for you with no reward for doing so, etc.

But there are two bits of really good news. One; social management platforms now exist that make posting, listening, targeting, responding, and analyzing easier and more of an integrated process than ever. Doing social the right way is more do-able. And two; the rewards of not chasing fans away are great.

The Vanson Bourne report shows 68% of social users researched a product or service recommended by a friend, and 15% of those bought based on the recommendation. Win your fans’ trust, and they’ll get you new customers without a frantic hard sell. And 82% of respondents to the Lab42 study said Facebook is a good platform for interacting with brands, with 50% finding the page more useful than the brand’s www.

So your fans are quite predisposed to keep following you. Only you can mess that up and become the uncool kid they don’t want to be seen around.

@mikestiles

Tuesday Feb 26, 2013

Hackers, Trolls and Troublemakers

trollAs brands on the social stage, we’re going to encounter hackers, trolls and troublemakers. They aren’t pleasant, but they’re not fatal. Our philosophy: if you’re going to play in the sandbox you can expect to get some sand in your socks. You can’t immerse in the public without running into these irritants. What you can do is manage them.

Hackers

Brand hacking incidents have been all too frequent and public. Naturally, your first line of defense is enterprise level technology security solutions that leave little to chance.

But as long as there’s a human that can be tricked out of info, there’ll be hacks. People trust online friends, so messages from them with malicious links get clicked. A social engineering experiment by a major manufacturing firm ended up with 17 out of 20 users with access to confidential data giving usernames and passwords to an intruder.

After putting top-notch tech security in place (don’t scrimp on that), defense #2 is due diligence. Make sure you use your moderation tools to detect suspicious characters in your community who aim to use you to victimize other fans. Educate users to increase the caution level (though most won’t exactly get excited about social safety lessons).

The social nets are doing what they can. Facebook stopped trying to play “whack-a-mole” and switched to an offensive strategy of cease & desist letters, lawsuits, and reverse engineering so the culprits can be found and arrested if warranted.

Social that works for everyone revolves around trust. For brands, it’s imperative to foster and preserve that trust to get continued engagement and for initiatives like sCommerce to flourish.

Trolls

Not nearly as likable as Hobbits. They’re usually slightly anarchic, attention-starved agitators. They live to post inflammatory comments that get a rise out of you. Sure it might be a brand’s natural PR instinct to jump in with both feet, but the standard best practice is to ignore them, thus imposing the nightmare of insignificance.

Some trolls are more persistent than others. Many are willing to kick it up to bullying and abuse. Once they cross that line, you can report them and perhaps get them banned from the platform completely. Some, most notably in the UK, have even been arrested. All social networks have abuse policies. Facebook makes it especially easy to block, hide and unfriend.

The customer may always be right, but trolls are not your customers, so feel neither pain nor guilt for deleting their comments. The real art for brands is using common sense to differentiate between a troll on the attack and a genuinely dissatisfied customer.

Troublemakers

They aren’t trolls, but they do things that make for a less than pleasant experience for others in your community. Chief among them are those who would use your brand to relentlessly self-promote. It’s tacky, desperate, and usually boring. A fan that uses your Page to solicit followers or push their link is ignoring the codes of social conduct.

So are all-out spammers. If I’m on my favorite cookie’s Page, I probably don’t want to “ask you how you lost 50 lbs. in 2 days just by chewing bamboo shoots.”

Varying language issues aside, literacy is always nice. A post that can be understood by the community adds value. We shouldn’t have to struggle to deduce what a commenter is trying to say. Nor should we have to decipher cryptic tweets filled with 8 hashtags and alien symbols.

Some comments may indeed be about your company but are a mile off-topic from the post they’re under. Yes, you should address their concern, but either answer in one quick post or take the issue offline. Don’t let people steer conversations into a ditch.

Your job as host and emcee of your brand’s Page is to create as positive an experience as you can, an environment that keeps fans coming back and leads to valuable engagement. Be firm with those who risk tainting your social turf.

@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

Tuesday Feb 05, 2013

The Community Manager Wish List

Jeff EspositoJeff Esposito of VistaPrint was the winner of our yearlong search for the Oracle Community Manager of the Year. Associated with Jeremiah Owyang’s Community Manager Appreciation Day, the award is intended to honor the frontline work being done by these social brand representatives and relationship-builders every day (including weekends and holidays). We asked Jeff to tell us what, from his perspective, might improve a CMs ability to hit homeruns for their brand. What follows are his thoughts:

There is no question that the role of a Community Manager is a unique one. Outside of working for Tony Soprano, I am not sure that there is a position where you need to take as much time trying to describe what you do to family and coworkers. I’ve given up trying to be eloquent and typically sum it up as, “I get paid to talk to people for a living.”

Despite the headache of trying to describe what I do, I can safely say that I have a rewarding job. Community management is something where no two days will ever be the same, you’re pushed each and every hour that you sit behind your desk, and you have responsibilities that exceed anything that might be on your business card.

For those of you in a community management role, you know that the job is not perfect. You often find yourself wanting more. It’s OK. I find myself in the same position every now and then (read often). These are the 5 things that always seem to stay at the top of my Community Manager wish list:

More Time 
There are 24 hours in any given day, and you have to sleep sometime. If you ask any Community Manager what their biggest problem is, you will more than likely hear something about wanting more time. I know that’s what I want. You’ll never have enough time in the day to keep up with all the trends or touch everyone that you want to that day. The best you can do is to manage what time you have effectively and prioritize all the things that you’re called upon to do.

Continuing Education 
We all remember school and how un-awesome it was. Sorry Mrs. Callendar. It’s not you, it’s me. While going back to school is not exactly at the top of my priority list, it is important to keep learning. This can be accomplished any number of ways, from brushing up on white papers to networking with a professional group like the Community Roundtable (you should be a member).

Resources 
Much like time, we’ll likely never have all of the resources that we want. That said, it is important for Community Managers to push for tools that can make their jobs easier and help them deliver better results. If the answer is “no,” you shouldn’t throw in the towel. If there is a tool or membership that will enhance how you do your job, make a solid business case for it and show the value to the higher ups.

Good Friends 
There is a lot to be said about having a strong support network. For Community Managers, having friends who perform a similar role is vital for success. This is especially important when you hit a wall or need to bounce something off of someone. Plus they’re great to have even if you just need to vent a little bit.

Better Members 
While friends who are fellow CMs are good, a community wouldn’t be a community without great members. Maintaining the quality of those members and thus making sure the community is a pleasant, productive place to spend time is very much part of the job. So be thankful for the great community members you have, but keep coming up with ways to foster new super fans.

@mikestiles

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