Community Manager: Top 10 Duties

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I haven’t written a new post in a few months because, as some of my social media followers may know, I recently experienced an exciting career change. As you might also know, the first few months at a new job is a supremely busy, exciting, and learning-intensive time. I’m super grateful and stoked about my new gig, which is Community Manager for the cool software company Articulate. Another thing I’m grateful for are my awesome blog subscribers, so here I am, adding some fresh content for you guys!

I like to relate my blog to my real-life learning experiences, so I thought it would be fitting to write a post about what it is that a community manager (CM) does. I’ve had to explain it to a lot of people lately because when I tell someone I’m a community manager, the typical response is “What’s that?”. It’s a relatively new job title, and it’s one that can vary greatly across organizations. The one thing that is consistent across the board is that community managers tend to wear a lot of hats! I’ve decided to compile a list of general duties that are carried out by CMs:

Act as the public face of a community or organization

The community manager is often times the “public face of the company”, so it helps to be like-able, down-to-earth and friendly person. The CM should instill trust in community members and gives them insight into the organizations’ personality. The “personal touch” provided by the community manager sets a company apart and gives community members a person they can reach out to and engage with, which makes them feel special and connected.  As the face of the company, the community manager should always maintain a professional image, and respond appropriately to both praise and criticisms.

Develop and curate content for various channels

Great communities share great content, and while some of the content may be created by the members themselves, it’s often up to the CM to create high-quality content, as well as curate and organize the content created by others. Content could include social media updates, blog posts, articles, tutorials, webinars, community discussions, podcasts, videos, marketing information, newsletters, website content, and more.

Interact with the community across multiple platforms

One of the key duties of the community manager is to spend time interacting with members, both face-to-face and online. These interactions usually consist of building and strengthening relationships, promoting the community, responding and assisting to community questions and concerns, finding and engaging new community members and keeping current community members interested and satisfied.

Monitor the internet for conversations about the community

The community manager monitors the web for comments or discussions related to their community and responds to inquiries and comments, attempting to create a positive experience and add value to the user experience. In some cases, the CM can re-direct complaints or messages to the appropriate departments for follow-up. By participating in conversations related to their community, community managers can build brand visibility and develop a positive reputation as an expert within their industry.

Respond and assist with questions and inquiries

The community manager will address and resolve any issues related to the features and functionality of the community. Furthermore, the CM is often responsible for customer support – answering questions however they come in (email, social media, telephone) and managing any online feedback forums.

Develop communications and marketing strategies

The community manager may be responsible for creating strategic marketing and communications plans to provide direction for the company’s public-facing communications. To that end, a community manager should have an understanding of what’s possible using various technology platforms and should be able to to educate and integrate these technologies to improve the business and the user experience. Additionally, a community manager works to identify the tools and activities that are most appropriate for communicating key messages to the community.

Analyze and report on social media metrics

The community manager monitors the health of the community by compiling and analyzing metrics about growth and engagement levels. CMs analyze numbers (Is the total number of community members going up? Are the number of social media followers increasing?), but they also do some more subjective analysis (Are the community discussions of high quality? Are the newcomers becoming contributors?)  The community manager analyzes these stats to identify trends and exploit opportunities, and finds ways to improve on those metrics through testing and new initiatives.

Plan and attend events on behalf of the organization

One of the roles of the community manager is to attend industry events, conferences, and networking opportunities in various cities. At these events, the community manager’s role is to represent their organization in a professional and personable fashion. The CM may also be tasked with planning meetups, workshops or user groups for members of the community, in order to strengthen interpersonal relationships and get members together.

Engage new customers and community members

One of the signs of a healthy community is to have a lot of “community champions”, in other words, a lot of highly engaged members. The community manager should identify, empower and train potential champions. The CM should reach out to these champions and thank them for their contribution, and should subtly encourage them to take other steps to contribute even more the community. In addition to working with community champions, the CM should identify and target potential new members.

Network and build strong relationships

Whether attending community events or monitoring online conversations, one of the ongoing roles of the CM is to continuously network, in order to build strong relationships that could potentially be of benefit to the community. The CM identifies and develops relationships with key organizations or individuals that fall within the company’s areas of focus and they work to cultivate relationships that impact the organizations’ missions, and develop partnerships that are meaningful and increase community awareness.

There you have it! Those are ten tasks that are commonly carried out by community managers. It’s important to remember that this list varies greatly from one company to the next, depending on the size of the organization and community. If you look at this list and think you have most of these skills or love all of these things, perhaps a job in community management should be in your future!

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Evolution of an eLearning Designer: How Social Media Advanced My Career

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I’ve started off 2012 on a great foot: at a new job at Langevin Learning Services. I can’t believe how much my career has evolved over the last few years, and how much I’m learning every day. The more I’ve thought about how it came to be that I landed my current gig at Langevin, the more I realize how much social media has played a key role in making it happen. In all probability, it never would have happened without social media.

We’ve all read the news articles about how social media is being used for recruitment, and about how employers are moving away from traditional resumes and focusing on a candidates’ online personality and contributions. My story is a perfect illustration of how developing an online identity can really get your name out there, help you gain great exposure and maybe even land you a job! I’ve decided to write a blog post about how I developed my personal social media identity, and how that helped me land my current gig. Here are the top three factors:

Growing my LinkedIn network

One of the earliest and most important aspects of my “social media identity” is my LinkedIn profile. Several years ago, on the direction of a former boss, I signed up for a LinkedIn account and took the time to completely fill it out. This was when I was at my first job, fresh out of university. I remember thinking how bare my job experience looked and what few connections I had.

Over the years, this has definitely changed. I think that’s because I’ve taken the time to craft (what I hope is) a thorough resume that has a personal touch, but still represents all my relevant work experiences and skills. I keep it as current as possible. I post original, business related status updates from time to time. I really make an effort to have a LinkedIn profile that looks “neat” and visually attractive. I’ve expanded my LinkedIn network over the years through meeting new people as well as by connecting with other instructional design and eLearning professionals through LinkedIn groups and through my Twitter account.

Speaking of Twitter…

Getting on Twitter and expanding my  following

The reason I ended up on Twitter is kind of a fluke; I was working at my second job, a small high-tech company, and we were at a round-table meeting discussing social media. One of the project managers mentioned she needed someone to start Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts for the company. She looked around the table for volunteers. I was the only one who knew what Twitter was. Kidding, but really I was the only one at the table with an actual Twitter account (although at this point I wasn’t really using my Twitter account; I had mostly just signed up out of curiosity to check it out and I didn’t “get it” right away). Anyhow, I jumped all over the chance to be “social media coordinator”. Luckily for me, everyone else was really busy with their projects and/or not that interested in social media, so I didn’t have any competition for this awesome role! I was thinking “I can actually be paid to be on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn at work? SWEET!” (or something along those lines).

All joking aside, I took on my new social media role pretty seriously and learned many tricks of the trade (it sounds  so cliché, but it’s true!). Eventually, with a lot of new knowledge about social media under my belt, I really expanded my own personal/professional Twitter profile and network. I broke through the 1000 follower barrier recently, which was a great milestone for me.

Finally, one of the most important things I have done with regards to my social media identity has been…

Starting my blog

Writing this blog has been really fun for me, but more importantly, a great learning experience. When I first thought of starting an eLearning or instructional design-related blog, I wasn’t sure if I should. “Do I really know enough to write about this stuff?” is what I originally thought. I’ve always really enjoyed reading and writing, but there are so many well-written and informative blogs out there. I wasn’t sure I’d have the pizzazz required to make a blog stand out amongst thousands. Also, I had heard of WordPress but for some reason it sounded like some intense, difficult to learn application. (Haha! Crazy, I know. I figured out the interface in about an hour, maybe less!)

Eventually I decided I was just going to do it! I needed an outlet for my writing and to share my graphics and artwork. I decided that I don’t have to write authoritative white papers on eLearning and instructional design, or anything like that. Instead, my blog has a casual tone to it and I write about my own personal learning experiences relating to eLearning, social media, graphic design and more. I write about discoveries I’ve made and new things I’ve learned as I follow this intriguing career path. I’m usually inspired to write blog posts after I encounter a problem or a question while I’m working.

How did all of these things help me land my job at Langevin?

Last fall I started following an instructional designer at Langevin Learning Services, Karen, on Twitter and LinkedIn, and she followed me back. Eventually, she subscribed to my blog, which I was pretty stoked about. She had been following my blog for a month or two when I wrote a review of a Langevin Learning Services workshop I took a few years ago. (Instructional Design for New Designers is the workshop, and you can read the review here). The reason I wrote the review was that I actually thought the workshop was terrific.  Ever since I took it I’ve been raving to my instructional designer friends how good the workshop was, how much I learned, etc. One night, I needed a topic for my blog and I realized that I should write a review of the workshop I had attended. So I wrote the review and hit publish! I made sure to send the link to Karen on Twitter, since it was good PR for them! I wasn’t expecting anything more to come from it.

A few weeks later, I got a direct message from Karen asking me if I would be interested in doing the pre-screening/interviewing for an Instructional Design position at the company. She had scoped me out on Twitter and LinkedIn, and she knew I had some writing skills and interest in learning new things, thanks to my blog. Of course, the review I had written and the fact I had taken one of their workshops played well in my favour.  I jumped at the opportunity to work somewhere that I knew would challenge me and stretch me to my full potential. Fast forward a few months, I got the job! Now I’ve been settled in for a few months and I couldn’t be happier.

That is my tale of how social media helped me land my current job. My story goes to show how important a personal social media identity or “brand” is in 2012. Personally, I enjoy Twitter, LinkedIn and writing my blog so much that it doesn’t ever feel like a drag, or like extra work. This is how I know that I’m in the right field!

12 Duties of a Social Media Manager

Social media is not a fad, it is here to stay. Every day, more and more organizations are realizing its value and hiring Social Media Managers to increase brand awareness, to ensure that their marketing is reaching the largest possible audience and for many other reasons. Read on to find out 12 duties of a social media manager.

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1. Implements a social media strategy

A social media strategy doesn’t appear out of thin air. It needs to be developed. The social media manager will develop the plan and the parameters for the corporate social media strategy.  They will determine objectives, establish what needs to be accomplished and define how it will be done

2. Manages social media sites

Stale social media accounts can be bad for business and leave customers with the wrong impression. The social media manager will ensure accounts are updated on a daily basis and that messaging is timely and relevant. This also includes using social media tools (i.e., Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, etc.) to schedule tweets to appear overnight and on weekends, to promote the brands to night-owls and clients in different time zones.

3. Engages in dialogue and monitors customer issues

In this day and age it cannot be prevented. People will post both good and bad things about a company online. It is vital to monitor the internet for any positive or negative feedback about an organization, and then follow up on the feedback. The social media manager will encourage and thank individuals for positive feedback, and try to appease any unhappy customers.

4. Monitors trends and encourages adoption of social media tools

The social media manager identifies and reports on social media trends. It is key for organizations to be on top of the latest trends and tools to ensure that an organization is ahead of the competition, reaching the maximum amount of customers and on top of its “tech game”.

5. Searches for news/articles to post

Depending on the nature of the organization, the social media manager may be tasked  with the duty of constantly scouring the internet and the news headlines for articles, stories and tips that are industry related and which can be posted to the social media accounts.

6. Implements social media campaigns

Social media campaigns are things like e-coupons, promo codes or the chance of winning a prize for “Liking” a company on Facebook.  Social media managers will develop these ideas and bring them to fruition.

7. Manages social media campaigns

It is vital to track and monitor the effectiveness and success of online initiatives, in order to calculate a return on investment.  The social media manager will then provide reports for executives and management on what worked and what didn’t work.

8. Write blog articles

To be a leader or influencer in any given field, it is important to be writing interesting articles or blog postings on topics relevant to the company or industry. The social media manager will identify and develop blog posts and other materials. They may also recruit and develop other bloggers and blog editors.

9. Uses social networking analysis tools

It’s important to measure the effectiveness of different channels. The social media manager will use TwitterCounter, Google Analytics, and other tools to measure clickthroughs and measure traffic activity.

10. Monitors internet for brand related topics of conversation

There are always conversations going on in the social space that provide the perfect segue for a company to promote itself. The social media manager will actively engage in industry conferences, chats, blogs, wikis, video sharing, etc to promote corporate messaging and increase brand awareness, which will drive brand traffic to company website.

11. Provides feedback to higher ups

A well run organization has strong internal communication. The social media manager should be in constant contact with the Public Relations, Marketing, Sales and management departments to communicate on public feedback, complaints and conversations surrounding the brand that are taking place in the public sphere.

12. Promotes social media within the organization

Educate staff on the importance of social media, as well as the implementation of new technologies and campaigns. The social media manager will also promote social media activities internally.

Are you a social media manager who carries out these duties? If so, let me know in the comments, which of these tasks takes up the most of your time? I love to hear your thoughts and feedback, so all comments are welcome. Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog!