15 essential articles for online community managers #CMAD

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To celebrate the second annual Community Manager Appreciation Day, we’ve brought together 15 essential articles for online community managers and social media managers. From why community managers should get involved with their online community before it is even launched, through how to manage and grow a community, to how to measure the impact you are having.

This collection of articles, resources and thinking should have something for everybody to learn from or to add to. We’d love your thoughts on these and also your own favourite community manager articles and resources.

  1. When does a community manager’s job begin?: Why it is critical that your community manager is involved in helping to plan and design the online community before it is launched.
  2. The Ten Commandments of managing online communities: An insightful presentation on how to manage online communities from Julius Solaris.
  3. The biggest mistakes an online community manager can make: From lack of engagement to a lack of discipline, we look at five of the biggest mistakes an online community manger can make.
  4. How word of mouth grows online communities: A case study on the role of word of mouth helped to grow an online community at a critical early stage.
  5. Five things to consider when engaging social media influencers: Influencers in social media can be a great help when growing your community and become advocates of your site. However engaging them can be difficult. Here are five things to consider when engaging them.
  6. How to react if somebody writes about your brand online: A simple guide to help you decide when, and how, you should respond if somebody comments on your brand online.
  7. Why you shouldn’t join every conversation about your brand online: When you should, and when you shouldn’t, join conversations about your brand online (and why you shouldn’t feel the need to respond to them all).
  8. Champions, active users and trolls: Defining the different types of users in an online community and exploring how they behave and how you should manage them.
  9. Moderation and safety: Why moderation is important, the four types of moderation you can choose from and how to decide which approach is right for you.
  10. Should anonymous comments be allowed in your online community: The pros and cons of allowing anonymous comments in your online community, and those times when it really is the best option.
  11. Comparing paid and organic search strategies for online communities: Which are more successful drivers of traffic? And which are more likely to drive engagement?
  12. Eight ways you can use your online community to get insight: Eight tools and activities you can use in your online community to get insight from your members.
  13. What online community managers can learn from gaming: How to use gaming techniques to help manage and grow your online community.
  14. Using experts to encourage real engagement with your community: How experts can add value to your online community if used sensibly, and in a way that meets the needs of your community members.
  15. Is time on site a useful measure of how successful your online community is?: The short answer is ‘no’. This article tells you why, and where time on site is a useful measure.

FreshNetworks Blog: Top five posts in July

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As a social media agency, FreshNetworks aims to bring you the best posts in social media, online communities, marketing and customer engagement online. In case you missed them, find below our top five posts in July.

1. Social media monitoring review 2010 – download the final report

Over the first few months of 2010 we conducted an in-depth review of the leading social media monitoring tools in conjunction with our sister company, FreshMinds Research. We compared how Alterian, Brandwatch, Biz360, Neilsen Buzzmetrics, Radian6, Scoutlabs and Sysomos performed when monitoring conversations about global coffee brand Starbucks, analysing over 19,000 online conversations.

Many thousands of you have already read our posts about the review and downloaded the final whitepaper. If you haven’t yet, you can find a more detailed analysis of all these tools and more in our final report – Turning Conversations into Insights: a Comparison of Social Media Monitoring Tools.

2. 93% of the world is not on Facebook

In June, Facebook announced that it had reached 500 million users. This number is incredible, and perhaps even more impressive is the rate at which the social network is growing. Just five months ago they had 400 million users. But whatever we might think and however impressive these numbers are, Facebook is not an all-encompassing social media tool. It does not reach everybody and it is not always right for us to use. 500m is a large number but is only a small proportion of the online population. And if you take the whole global population (as we did more to make a point than for the accuracy of this statistic), 93% of the world is not on Facebook.

What does this mean? Well Facebook is often not the right place for brands to play - just because the numbers seem big doesn’t mean it is the most suited to help your social media strategy.

3. Social media does not just take place online

One of the biggest dangers with social media is to assume that it is only exists online. We see this in the way some brands approach social media – developing a social media strategy that is focused on the tools they are going to use rather than the business aims they are going to contribute to. We also see this in the way some brands allocate budgets for their social media work – associating it with their ecommerce or digital spend can mean that they need to work harder to make sure that social media efforts integrate with what is happening offline.

In truth, the rise of social media for marketing is less about technology and more about brands realising the benefits of closer engagement with customers and others. Social media tools provide a great way to do this but always remember to think how you can get this engagement offline too.

4. Why a museum is the UK’s top brand on Twitter

The Famecount dataset is, like much data, not perfect but it does highlight some surprises that we can all learn from. The brand it has as the top Twitter brand in the UK is one such surprise. Rather than the big FMCG, fashion and media firms they include in their brands ranking, the top UK brand on Twitter for them is a museum, @Tate.

There are some structural reasons why the Tate will attract followers. Twitter is great for events and experiences and a museum has lots of these. But the success and popularity of the Tate is about much more than this. It’s thanks to the way they use Twitter. In this post we look at the three simple characteristics of the way the Tate uses Twitter that all brands can learn from, and that contribute to their success.

5. Developing a European social media strategy

An issue for many brands who are developing a social media strategy is how they translate what they do in one country into other markets in which they operate. As a European social media agency, we are very used to helping clients take a US or UK strategy and then roll this out across the rest of Europe. And in doing this we have looked at organisations who have done this well. And those who have done it badly. The usual mistake is to assume that what works in one country can be taken and implemented in another country with no changes. More often than not this is not the case.

In this video post, Matt Rhodes talks about how to approach developing a European social media strategy and why what works in one country might not work in others.

FreshNetworks Blog: Top five posts in June

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As a social media agencyFreshNetworks aims to bring you the best posts in social media, online communities, marketing and customer engagement online. In case you missed them, find below our top five posts in June.

1. Social media monitoring review 2010 – download the final report

Over the first few months of 2010 we conducted an in-depth review of the leading social media monitoring tools in conjunction with our sister company, FreshMinds Research. We compared how Alterian, Brandwatch, Biz360, Neilsen Buzzmetrics, Radian6, Scoutlabs and Sysomos performed when monitoring conversations about global coffee brand Starbucks, analysing over 19,000 online conversations.

Many thousands of you have already read our posts about the review and downloaded the final whitepaper. If you haven’t yet, you can find a more detailed analysis of all these tools and more in our final report – Turning Conversations into Insights: a Comparison of Social Media Monitoring Tools.

2. Why a museum is the UK’s top brand on Twitter

The Famecount dataset is, like much data, not perfect but it does highlight some surprises that we can all learn from. The brand it has as the top Twitter brand in the UK is one such surprise. Rather than the big FMCG, fashion and media firms they include in their brands ranking, the top UK brand on Twitter for them is a museum, @Tate.

There are some structural reasons why the Tate will attract followers. Twitter is great for events and experiences and a museum has lots of these. But the success and popularity of the Tate is about much more than this. It’s thanks to the way they use Twitter. In this post we look at the three simple characteristics of the way the Tate uses Twitter that all brands can learn from, and that contribute to their success.

3. The most beautiful tweet ever written (as judged by @stephenfry)

In June, Stephen Fry declared the most beautiful Tweet ever written at the Hay Festival. The winning tweet, from Marc MacKenzie, is a concise but informative tweet and perhaps is a great example of how people are using this new medium. But what makes this tweet the most beautiful ever written?

The beauty in Twitter, and in the tweets people send, is that they convey emotion, opinion, information and expression in a relatively short period, and they, broadly speaking, do so in public. Unlike other conversational forms, Twitter, even when you direct a tweet at a specific person, has a broader audience and often an audience you don’t know. And of course you only have 14o characters with which to express yourself. Marc MacKenzie’s tweet is a good example of this new medium – the audience is unclear and the tweet manages to convey information, opinion, belief and also humour. All in 140 characters.

4. The top ten brands on Facebook

Starbucks is the most popular brand on Facebook when ranked by the number of people who ‘Like’ a brand (’Fans’ as they used to be called). Over 7.5 million people like the coffee chain on Facebook, almost 2 million more than like the second most popular brand, Coca-Cola.

This data comes from Famecount which ranks brands (and people) based on the number of people who follow, like or friend them in social networks. It shows that food and drink brands are in each of the top five places, with fashion brands making up most of the remaining places in the top ten. Consumers are interested in what these brands are doing, or at least want to flag their interest in the brand or product on their own Facebook profile.

5. The problem with automated sentiment analysis

As part of our review of social media monitoring tools we compared their automated sentiment analysis with the findings of a human analyst, looking at seven of the leading social media monitoring tools – Alterian, Brandwatch, Biz360, Neilsen Buzzmetrics, Radian6, Scoutlabs and Sysomos. And the outcome suggests that automated sentiment analysis cannot be trusted to accurately reflect and report on the sentiment of conversations online.

In our tests when comparing with a human analyst, the tools were typically about 30% accurate at deciding if a statement was positive or negative. In one case the accuracy was as low as 7% and the best tool was still only 48% accurate when compared to a human. For any brand looking to use social media monitoring to help them interact with and respond to positive or negative comments this is disastrous. More often than not, a positive comment will be classified as negative or vice-versa. In fact no tool managed to get all the positive statements correctly classified. And no tool got all the negative statements right either. Automated sentiment does not work, and for businesses relying on it can cause problems.

FreshNetworks Blog: Top five posts in May

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At FreshNetworks, we aim to bring you the best posts in social media, online communities, marketing and customer engagement online. In case you missed them, find below our top five posts in May.

1. Social Media Monitoring Tools – 2010 Review (intro)

Introducing the FreshNetworks social media monitoring review 2010, a series of detailed tests and analysis on seven of the leading social media monitoring tools – Alterian, Brandwatch, Biz360, Neilsen Buzzmetrics, Radian6, Scoutlabs and Sysomos. The purpose of the report is to provide an in-depth comparison of buzz tracking tools that accurately depicts their individual pros and cons.

We’ve put the tools to the test by tracking well-known international coffee company Starbucks. We compared over 19,000 online conversations, giving us some really unexpected results and highlighting some staggering differences in the way each tool performs.

2. 20 Social media speakers and experts

We’ve spoken at more social media conferences and events in the last three months than in the first three years of FreshNetworks’ existence. One of the benefits of all the talking has been the opportunity to listen to other social media speakers and experts.

We were asked to recommend a few social media speakers for events (particularly in London and the UK), so thought it might be useful to note down  some of the people who have recently impressed us and why.

3. Social media monitoring review 2010: Test 1 results

The second post from our Social Media Monitoring – 2010 review series. In it we give an insight into how we have set up the comparison of the seven tools (which in itself proved rather a challenge) and the volume of online conversations that each social media monitoring tool was able to uncover. And even at this top level, it’s clear the tools are each doing something quite different…

4. Russia: the fourth largest social networking market in Europe

In a post from last year we look at data showing that Russia was the fourth largest market in Europe for social networks behind the UK, Germany and France.

5. Social media + online shopping = social shopping

Social shopping can benefit retailers in several ways, especially if it is integrated with a wider online sales strategy. In this post we look at some examples that were then built on in our social media and retail breakfast briefing.

FreshNetworks Blog: Top five posts in April

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At FreshNetworks, we aim to bring you the best posts in social media, online communities and customer engagement online. In case you missed them, find below our top five posts in April.

1. Social media monitoring review 2010: Test 1 results

The second post from our Social Media Monitoring – 2010 review serie. In it we give an insight into how we have set up the comaprison of the seven tools (which in itself proved rather a challenge) and the volume of online conversations that each social media monitoring tool was able to uncover. And even at this top level, it’s clear the tools are each doing something quite different…

2. Social Media Monitoring Tools – 2010 Review (intro)

Introducing the FreshNetworks social media monitoring review 2010, a series of detailed tests and analysis on seven of the leading social media monitoring tools – Alterian, Brandwatch, Biz360, Neilsen Buzzmetrics, Radian6, Scoutlabs and Sysomos. The purpose of the report is to provide an in-depth comparison of buzz tracking tools that accurately depicts their individual pros and cons.

We’ve put the tools to the test by tracking well-known international coffee company Starbucks. We compared over 19,000 online conversations, giving us some really unexpected results and highlighting some staggering differences in the way each tool performs.

3. The basics of social media monitoring

Social media tools make it possible for people to have conversations online. The uptake in conversations, comments and reviews has been explosive and the importance of these conversations is growing by the day. Among many other things, people are discussing brands, describing their purchase intentions and asking for assistance in making buying decisions or product support.

The opportunity for organisations is clear. They can now listen-in on the conversations of their customers, potential customers and other stakeholders in a way that was previously impossible. Through social media monitoring it is possible to gain insights from the conversations people are having online every day and to make improvements to products, customer service and marketing as a result. This post looks at some of the basics of social media monitoring.

4. Long-term success in social media is about more than tactics

There is a danger of building your social media strategy on tactics (“We need to use Twitter” or “We need to use Facebook”) rather than focusing on ongoing and sustainable engagement. Long-term success comes from a strategic (not tactical) approach to social media and from properly evaluating why you are using social media in the first place and how you will measure its success against overall business objectives as well as any individual campaign aims that you might be focused on at any given time.

This approach has a number of implications for what brands should be doing online and for the role of the social media agency and the brand itself. In this post, we looked at these, including current trends in the social media industry, how to develop a social media strategy and the role of the social media agency and of the brand in any engagement.

5. The Economist on Social Networking

At the end of January, the Economist published a special report on on social networking.Their special report on A World of Connections, provided an excellent overview of the current state of social media for those still trying to get to grips with it. You can download a free pdf of the report here. Or check out our summary of key highlights in this post.