15 essential articles for online community managers #CMAD


On the platform, reading

Image by moriza via Flickr

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.

Consumers in brand communities 71% more likely to purchase (Universal McCann)


Universal McCann have just published Wave5 of their Social Media Tracker. It provides a great snapshot of social media usage from around the world. The overall report is useful for brands and social media agencies alike and provides particular insight to people planning multi-national soial media strategies.

Among other things, they asked internet users if and why they join brand communities (see diagram below). And found that those who had joined brand communities were 71% were more likely to make a purchase as a result.

This backs up what we have found with clients in a range of industries and shows the power that online communities can bring to brands.

Why people join brand online communities (McCann)

Why people join brand online communities (McCann)

The report is well worth a read and is Required Reading from FreshNetworks this week. You can find a full version to download here.

Four simple ways to use social media to help your job-hunt


Today I was giving a talk on social media marketing and the role of the social media agency at the University of Cambridge. I took a few moments at the end of my lecture to reflect on how the students in the session could use social media themselves as part of their job-hunt. On how employees can use social media to find out more about applicants for roles - with many frequently-cited examples of inappropriate things on Facebook damaging candidates and employees. But more importantly how you can use social media to help explore, research, learn and prepare for applications and interviews.

In the short presentation below we talked through four steps that the students, and indeed any job-hunters, can take to use social media to support them in their research, applications and interviews for roles. These steps, starting with the simplest, must-do, are:

  1. Take control of your personal brand online - realise you have one and make sure you have a professional brand alongside your more personal one. Assume that any employer will look for you online and consider what they will find.
  2. Use the tools available to research employers - blogs and online communities run by brands provide a brilliant insight into the business and what they are doing. Using social media to research potential employers will furnish you with more insight and material than standard recruitment materials will.
  3. Find to people to talk from target employers to (and talk to them) - find people on Twitter, in online communities or on networks such as LinkedIn that work for employers or in the industry and engage them, ask them questions and their opinions.
  4. Experiment with social media yourself - the best way to start to engage and to control your personal brand online is to experiment with social media yourself. This does not have to be just about your job-hunt. Maybe start a blog about your hockey team or your holidays. Use social media and experiment with blogs, Twitter and other tools. Only then will you really realise the potential it has.
Social media as a job-hunting tool: The basics
View more presentations from FreshNetworks.

Getting your community management processes in order


ducks in a row
Image via Wikipedia

As a social media agency, FreshNetworks works with clients both to manage their online communities, and also to train, mentor and coach others to help them to manage their social media activity themselves. In fact the best approach to social media for many brands can be combine experienced skills in online community management with a deep knowledge and understanding of the brand. Big online communities will inevitably find that at some stage the people managing the community change or grow. You need to be able to handle these changes without disrupting the community you have worked so hard to engage. And the secret to this is process.

Here are FreshNetworks’ four key processes to get in place on any online community when it is going through change.

1. Record all your processes

Keep a record of “what to do” in any situation on your online community. Make sure you retain the vast array of organisational knowledge that your community manager has built up over time. This could be in a number of ways, from hidden forums or private wikis online to word documents and excel spreadsheets.

It’s important that records of community activity, moderated content and guidance notes are kept up to date but they are doubly important when your community manager leaves to allow the new staff an insight into the history of the community and its development.

2. Let the community members know what’s happening

If for no other reason, it’s just politeness and common courtesy to let the members know about any significant changes that will occur in the community.

Make them part of the process, let them know in advance that you will be leaving and give them some information about your replacement, going so far as to asking the new community manager to introduce themselves in a post before they start.

3. Have a reasonable handover timeframe

This is so often neglected in employment across the board but it is crucial that you have the old and new community manager working together for some time, ideally a couple of weeks.

It’ll allow the new community manager to learn about the vibe of the community and what they consider acceptable. It will also provide an opportunity for a lot of questions and answers between the two community managers and give the departing staff the chance to share the in depth knowledge of the community they have developed and grown.
This chance to develop some good progressive outcomes should have a greater focus than a swift handover.

4. Hire skilled staff

We have written before about the skills you should look for in an online community manager. Make sure that you employ someone who will be effective in the post and continue to grow your community - skills in community management are as important as knowledge of the brand, and the perfect person (or indeed perfect team) will cover both of these.

The time will come when all online communities will grow and the people managing them will change with this growth. Getting your processes right from the very beginning will mean that you can make changes without disrupting the very community you are managing and growing.

Integrated social media hub and spoke



Social Media Hub and Spoke

We’ve always had strong views about the best ways for companies to get value from social media.

We’ve battled against the consensus view: only fish where the fish are swimming. We’ve campaigned for recognition that people operate in different modes in different social spaces (online communities vs social networks) and as a result have always pushed the concept of an integrated social media Hub-and-Spoke model.

That’s why I was delighted to read Jeremiah Owyang’s latest post and see his excellent slide show about integrating social tools within your website.


Making your Corporate Website Relevant