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Ashley Zeckman

6 Essential Community Management Tips from #SMBMSP40

By Ashley Zeckman     Marketing PR Conferences, Online Marketing, Social Media

October 28, 2011 marked my first attendance at the Minneapolis chapter of Social Media Breakfast (#SMBMSP).  I arrived at 514 Studios around 7:45am and to be honest, I was surprised at the number of people already in the audience.  I grabbed my seat in the second row and had an opportunity to to meet the featured speakers Lisa Grimm and Meg Knodl right before they took their seats at the front of the room.

Did You Know?

  • There are 46 SMB chapters nationwide
  • #SMBMSP has officially consumed 3,751 pieces of bacon
  • October 28, 2011 marked the 40th SMB for the MSP chapter
  • MSP is the largest chapter (and according to SMBMSP Director Mykl Roventine, the Twin Cities has the most attractive members)

#SMBMSP40 Speakers

Lisa Grimm (@lulugrimm)
Digital Brand Manager at Mall of America and one of TopRank’s 25 Women Who Rock Social Media in 2011

Meg Knodl (@DotMeg)
Senior Librarian at Hennepin County Library Communications and Community Engagement (Who also rocks social media)

Social Media Breakfast #40 was a fantastic combination of examples that Lisa and Meg face in their daily life as community managers as well as questions from the audience for practical application.  A community manager is responsible for many moving pieces and must react very quickly to feedback.  Below I have included 6 essential tips for community managers.

6 Essential Community Management Tips

#1 – Tips For Engaging With A Community
Community Management has become a large part of social strategy.  A successful community manager will ensure that the social media strategy is aligned with business objectives and that proper tools are in place to measure goals and objectives.  A defined social media strategy can provide guidance on how to encourage and engage interaction as well as a plan for providing your followers with relevant content.

#2 – Should You Separate Your Personal and Professional Life Online?
It’s important to always have your brand in mind when you are releasing  content or interacting online.  Experts warn against sharing information that can negatively effect perception of your brand.  There is a time and a place for sharing personal opinions and as a community manager both panel members recommend thinking about who you are representing and how your actions affect that entity.  Lisa’s approach to community management is fairly traditional (given her PR background) and she sums it up by saying “What you see is what you get with me.”  She notes from personal experience that if someone representing a brand makes a comment that she disagrees with she is going to form a judgement and will hold it against your brand.

#3 – Addressing Tough Issues
There is only so much planning that can go into reacting to a serious situation.  A proper way to react is to be as factual and respectful of the online community as possible.  Another tip is to wait for the community to come to you before reaching out.  Otherwise you may start conversations and panic around things that people weren’t aware of before you brought it up.

#4 – Determining Which Sites Are Right For Your Brand
In order to effectively connect with an audience a community manager should create an in depth analysis of which sites the target audience is spending the most time using, how they interact, and what type of communication they appear to be the most receptive to.  Meg Knodl gave a great example when she began speaking about her companies previous use of MySpace.  In the beginning it was a great tool for interacting but she also said “You reach that moment where you have to decide if it’s time to leave a community.”

#5 – Don’t Get Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen
Should you have multiple contributors or stick to one consistent voice for your company social media strategy?  Both speakers recommend sticking to one consistent voice.  However,  is that scalable?   Recommendations were made for mapping out a strategy and training additional community managers or contributors according to that strategy and set of standards.  Mall of America for example makes sure that all users tweeting on behalf of the company put their initials after their tweets so that they can be identified.

#6 – Choosing Between Your Brand and Your Community
Both speakers loudly proclaimed “your brand” almost in unison when a question was asked about whom you should choose when faced with a decision between your brand and your community.  You have been hired by your company to be their voice online, it is their interests that you have been hired to protect.  At that end Meg Knodl also stressed the importance of believing what you’re representing in order to effectively promote it.

Looking for more tips?  Listen to the podcast with Lisa Grimm and Meg Knodl from #SMBMSP40.   My first social media breakfast was full of useful information and I look forward to attending many more.  If you would like to attend a future breakfast,  SMBMSP offers a complete listing of all upcoming events.

Community management can be a tough job that requires constant and immediate attention.  What are some of the hurdles that you’ve faced as a community manager or a social media strategist?


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