Community Manager Confessions

So a few days ago I was approached by Social Media Citizen to complete an interview about Community Management. It seems that they're putting together a collection of qualitative information on the Social Media industry. I just couldn't resist!

I've seen so many "Social Media Gurus" preach about these subjects I felt it was about time that I sat down and told you how it was. So here it is...

(this is me)
Lizzie Gold started work as an Online Producer for GCap Media, she quickly established the key to engaging and growing your audience was building a community. She then then went on to be the in-house CM for Global Radio before moving to Yelp UK, as their Community Manager for London. She currently works for The Social Practice as their Community Manager for a range of our clients. In her spare time she blogs, bakes and cycles around London.

What are your top resources for community management (websites and people)?

Tempero and eModeration both write blogs worth reading, as are industry White papers produced by eConsultancy. Yahoo group (yup, we’re going old skool here) eMint is a fabulous resource as is following the #cmgr tag on Twitter. Please ignore anyone who uses the word “guru” to describe him or herself - it really gets my goat!

Who are your favourite community managers or community management case studies?

I'm quite fond of the chap who tweets about Monster Munch – but that could just be because I like those little crunchy monster paws.

Where is the best place to build the community? (Company website/Facebook/Twitter and etc)
I've worked on a variety of social projects; the most successful have always been on stand-alone purpose built sites. That does not mean “Build it and they will come” should be your attitude. I would seed a community on other social platforms and encourage my community members to share on these networks.  It also doesn’t mean I wouldn’t search for an experienced Community Manager to curate this activity on these platforms.

Social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are a great way to build a closer relationship with your audience and customers.

The definition of community, is common ownership; on Facebook brand pages (not including purpose built apps), Google+ and Twitter, it’s difficult to provide this. I find functionality limiting on these and the strict guidelines take away the freedom, creativity and ownership enjoyed by a community’s members.

What do you have to provide the community to make it work?

Ownership. As with any community you’ll find varying levels of user that you have to enable and reward. this re-enforce behaviour from your members generates an environment in which new members feel welcome and other can become more active and help the community grow. Giving users ownership gives them a sense of pride and will work to your advantage. Every social group has its super users – the prolific faces that you associate with that community – this is not the paid community manager, these are the blood bumping around, generating content and excitement and magnifying the work that a Community Manager does. It is these users you need to recruit and nurture.

How do you attract new community members?

I’m old school when it comes to Community Management. I believe in face-to-face recruitment and word of mouth. No amount of money you throw at advertising will grow your community; it might grow the number of Fans or Followers, but not the people using your space for a common goal. That comes from recruiting believers, super users if you will, that help make the community a place that people want to go.

But how do you get these super users? With time and effort. Being a Community Manager is a lifestyle job – like leading a church or being a head mistress. Just because you’re in Sainsbury’s doing your shopping does not mean that you ignore community member Jason S. who wants to tell you about his cat’s funky breath. Every user is special and unique. The more time you spend getting to know them and communicating with them, the better your community will get – for you and your members.

Oh and the great thing about these super users… they recruit new community members for you, because they believe in the common goal of the group.

What are the best ways to spark a discussion among your community members?

Look to other well established communities and forums for inspirational content and ideas. Using a RSS reader and Tweetdeck following trends and topics of interest is key to staying on top of things. I would recommend networking with influential people around your topic/genre remembering not to get too hung up on being shunned. This does happen, and the bigger you grow your community, the more industry “professionals” will start to take you seriously. Part of your job as a Community Manager is as a trend watcher.

What kinds of content do you share and post most often on the community platform?
Think about your users. How many super users do you have? How many dippers? How many floaters? How many skimmers?

Your goal as a community manager is to be there for the community. This means replying to question, encouraging UGC and giving them something to engage with. If you have a site full of skimmers, there’s no point in reaching for a level of engagement that is beyond their grasp or desire. If you’ve got a greater percentage of super users and dippers, they’ll need challenges and the ability to feel like they add value to your content.

Every community platform will have varying levels of engagement from a simple up vote or like to something more demanding like writing a review or comment. Different users will use this functionality to suit them, which will give you a greater understanding of your audience and the content they like.

How do you reward your community stars?
This all depends on which community you’re talking about. What throws newbies about the social industry is the fact that there are people out there that are willing to spend hours producing brilliant content, inspiring new members and being a spokes person for a brand, seemingly unpaid. To understand this, it’s important not to forget that just because it’s online and out of the usual social environment, it does still fit into the Cost Of Social Norms theory. Simply put, the same way you will give time and energy to your friends and family, for the reward of friendship, respect, support and acknowledgement, many super users give above and beyond to their communities.  Once you’ve grasped this concept, you’ll understand exactly how to reward your own community super stars and stop worrying about other people!

Does the size matter? Big vs Small community – what to aim for?
How long is a piece of string? (Apparently if you’re American, you might have to Google that phrase) Yes, it’s all rather wonderful that there are communities popping up all over the Web, but don’t be fooled; these all have a purpose. Growing brand awareness, building a customer relationship, insights into your audiences behaviour and interests, and possibly the simplest of the all, drive traffic. Take a look at Reddit for example – this community of internet super users has evolved and is now split into sub-Reddits. This huge community has suddenly become more useful to its members whose goal is pure entertainment. It’s evolved though it’s member’s ownership and dedication into an internet phenomena that baffles and terrifies even the most cocky “Social Media Guru”.

What are the most common mistakes in community management? What should companies do to avoid them?

Brand: Lets build a community
Community Manager: Why?
Brand: Everyone else is doing it.
Community Manger: Okay


Brand: Someone said something negative about us!
Community Manager: Let me delete that for you

How do you measure the ROI of your community? (ROI indicators)

I want to scream that this is a stupid question. What the ROI of friendship – wow that sounded cheesy. But seriously, what’s your goal or motivation?

Communities are valuable to brands. When they're well run they enable you to have an open conversation with your consumers. They are your Social Media PR force, word-of-mouth marketers and your market researchers; they are your cheerleaders and your most valuable teachers.

The insights you gain from the conversations you have within your communities will be the life or death of your brand – it just depends if you’re listening to them.

I'd love to hear your comments and know your thoughts. Feel free to share them in the little box below...


East Street, Rathbone Place

I drank out a bucket. It had rum and real sugar coke in it and I shared it with my friend through a straw. It felt so wrong, yet so right! Welcome to East Street. No not the market, the Pan-Asian (cringe) eatery in Soho.

If you like Wagammas, you'll like East Street. It's budget food, that's hot and tasty with service that actually smiles. East Street is actually Tampopo, re-branded for a London audience.  If you didn't know already, Tampopo is a small chain across the UK in various shopping centres serving up a similar Asian cuisine. It has been described as a "Jack of all trades, master of none" but I have a higher opinion of it than others.

Don't stop reading now. This place is certainly worth a visit. They have a interesting menu with a selection of dishes for Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and more. Granted, they do taste very much like each other, but are served up generously and for a snip of the price of other places. They don't hold back on the veg and everything comes out freshly cooked. I ate Nasa Goreng which was nothing like the authentic dishes they serve up at Rasa Sayang, but still enjoyable. There was a lack of a whole fried egg on top and they didn't serve Satay on the side.

I had a side of Korean beef which was accompanied by Kimchee. Again, really generous portions of beef, seasoned and cooked beautifully but the Kimchee was a little off. It just didn't taste quite right, still tasty, just not particularly authentic.

I work on Rathbone Street in Soho. The advantage and disadvantage of this is the array of tasty food options at my fingertips as I roll out of the office. I ate at East Street twice the week I discovered it. It's good. Considering this place is in the heart of Oxford Street's shopping area, it's perfectly priced and you can pretty much ensure you'll always get a seat.

It's also good to note that these guys also have a selection of Asian sauces and products for you to buy. They're marked slightly higher than you can get in Chinatown but they really add to the authentic feel (think; I'm eating in a market). The whole place is decorated with large neon signs which everyone seems to like, even if they aren't always spelt correctly.

I can't help but like this place and everyone who come here, foodie or not, seems to agree with me. It's a gem and a welcome addition to the Wahaca, Pho and Moolis genre in Soho.

East Street | 3 - 5 Rathbone Place London W1T 1HJ
020 7323 0860


Clean Up Your Apps!

Oh how I love a good pun (or a bad one...) and discovering this simple website last week not only excited me with its simplicity but also inspired me to write this post.

Working as a community manager across a selection of platforms, you tend to have your life "out there" on the internet for the world to see. Privacy is hard to come by and you have to be comfortable with who you are to ensure this public scrutiy by the people within your community doesn't destroy you. As a result, anything that helps me 'clean up my act' online in terms of permissions is a godsend.

Enter mypermissions.org – a sexy page which has eight shortcut links to the "edit permissions" pages for some of the most used social networks. As a result, in around 2 minutes you can readdress who has access to all your information from these profiles.

Just on a side note; you may have noticed that your Facebook advertising has become increasingly personal over the past few months. It seems that Facebook are tracking what you view on other tabs when you are logged into the site. If like me, you always have an open tab with Facebook, you might want to consider having this open in a browser that you don't use for anything else. I have a preference for Firefox because I love their add ons and use Chrome for Facebook only. But if your browsing is mainly Esty and Reddit (as mine may well be), you might not care too much about this...