Tip one on how to build and nurture an online community

In a workshop with Zoe Sisko, community manager for homestars.com, we discussed some of the roles, challenges and responsibilities of a Community Manager. Although the title is now being widely used, the implications of the role are still not crystal clear. Sitting down in a discussion, the crowd agreed that community management involves dealing with customer service issues, creating exposure and getting a community to go viral. The largest objective of all and we could all agree was creating a collaboration – i.e. take care or your customers and they will act on your behalf when asked to.

To get a little more in depth about the topic, an example was brought up. The speaker/community manager goes into her experience of social media communications with a local warehouse sale vs. a large airline company. In her experience with the local warehouse sale nearby, the social media guru tweeted and asked about the status of the line. An immediate response came her way stating that lines were not too lengthy and were moving quickly. As a result, she immediately hopped over and purchased a portion of the products.

The experience with the large airline company didn’t quite have the same effect. The discrepancy between a connecting flight had Zoe and friends ultimately frustrated. After trying multiple methods of communications, a tweet was sent her way to connect via twitter with the airline. Tweets and messages were sent out in hopes to solve the issue. Not a single response or acknowledgement was given; yet tweets were consistently being posted by the airline during the waiting process.

The moral of the story, timing is everything. An “always respond” attitude is important in the role of a community manager. However, much of this depends on the nature of the community and the expectations and standards that community managers should consider when responding. Although it may be a challenge to cover all questions, requests, complaints through quick responses, always remember a late response is better than none at all.

 

 

 

 

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How do you (or can you) measure online influence?

Every seat in the house was full when I stumbled in a couple minutes before the marketing panel began of “How Do You (or Can You) Measure Online Influence.” It was a clear indication that this large crowd was eager to find out how you can evaluate the online influence of individuals. More important than how, David Armano and Valeria Maltoni, the featured speakers of the workshop, were asked to dig deep into the heart of the matter with the imperative question, why influence?

Armano started with two key answers. The first, simply being the theory of social networking and its history in human behavior. Social networking has now evolved with the help of digital tools and undoubtedly, it has seeped into mainstream behavior, branching out to the mass. The second point is the idea of how we influence each other. The approach to shaping people begins in niche areas and becoming an expert in the subject.

The panel took it to Maltoni who adds to the idea that a lot of it starts with the development of credibility and trust as an opinion leader. The growth of validity begins by publishing relevant, engaging and current topics within a passionate community. Maltoni recommends us to, “become the catalyst of that conversation.”

The burning question put on the table was, “can we identify one tool that is good enough to cover all basis of measuring influence?” With issues such as inability to measure subjectivity, there is not one tool that currently exists. Armando predicts that in the next year or two, we’ll begin to move into scores and develop an index that lays out really good practices in engagement. However, it can be broken down into a few stages of analysis. Start by tracking which common topics you and other key influencers are talking about.  To get a snapshot of how others view you, take a look at your followers, lists and fan base and see how they categorize you.

Network with opinion leaders who share similar topics as you rather than starting with a foundation of friends. Borrow practices from the public relations sector. People must consider that their roles are formulating into that of a digital PR specialist as they are engaging with others interested in particular topics. Establish your reputation as an opinion leader in specified topics, as mentioned above. Once you’ve got that going and the word is out, you’ll be recognized as a key influencer in no time.

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How to handle online comments and communities-workshop

Atomic chirped into the final five minutes of the How to Handle Online Comments and Community workshop with Jen MacMillian Social Media and communities editor. Here she discussed the five things they’ve learned about communities and we couldn’t agree more with all of them:

1.    It’s all about the community (not you)

Absolutely, pinpointing your readers and who they are, not only signifies the interests of your audience, but also provides solid feedback on what’s working and what simply won’t cut it.

2.    Engage: listen, respond act

Converse and make a stance as an active member in the community. Responding and engaging with your community members, can enrich their online experience, as well as yours. Just because you and that member of the community aren’t standing face to face, doesn’t mean you can ignore them. With content overload, it’s tough to sit down and thoroughly read through everything, but this is not something you want to just skim through. Pay attention and give your all when responding to community members.

3.    The more transparent and accountable you are, the better

Secrets don’t make friends. When members of your community run into an issue, be honest. Rules and regulations about posting comments are already stated in the agreement, if a member of the community crosses the line, the facilitator is entitled to remove the post, but please, offer an explanation.

4.    Keep an open mind

Although we would love to be showered with positive comments, that’s never the case. Keep an open mind and learn to accept constructive criticism. This may help your community grow.

5. Yes, people like options     

Macmillan suggests adding fun elements to help you provide options. A comparison to a dinner party where guests are given more options was mentioned, bottom line: the more engaging the party, the more people will want to stay. This goes the same for an online community.

Tip: Allow filtering of comments to be optional. Websites are trying to connect comment profiles with facebook profiles to draw a face the name. Viewing comments from people you know can be more engaging then just viewing comments from the anonymous.

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Becoming an A List Blogger

Anyone can create a blog. But it takes someone special to create a good blog, and a blog that just may turn into a career, or that at least lands you thousands of dollars worth of free swag. From car bloggers to fashion bloggers, the blogging world is becoming a competitive one. Some use blogging as a form of expression, and while it may begin it that way for others, it can quickly become a race to the top of the blogging world. Fighting for the most advertising, sponsorship and giveaways. Blogging is quickly turning into a great marketing scheme for companies to promote their products through the average consumer- who happens to tell thousands of people about their daily lives. It’s a win-win situation, the company can easily reach out to thousands of consumers through a great review from a blogger and the blogger ends up with a pair of $1000 Louboutins, an Audi or a trip to Australia. Yes, it’s true. Company sponsorship for bloggers can include anything from product gifts to tropical vacations to invites to exclusive events like runway shows, pre-screenings, industry trade shows and collaborations with top companies. The A-list blogger is typically not a faceless person, hiding behind their computer screen– rather, they are quickly thrust into the online spotlight, with thousands of readers a day, combined with thousands of followers, fan pages and emails. They are asked to speak at events, ceremonies and social media conferences. Soon, they’re blog becomes more than just a blog but an example of what it takes to make it to the top of the social publishing world. But how do you get there, to blogging stardom?

A few tips:

1. Network: like, follow, tweet, retweet, link up, comment on every blog and blogger you find that relates to your topic

2. Identify the key bloggers in your field: reach out to them personally, compliment their work and ask them to add you to their list of favorite blogs, or to read some of your work.

3. Create accounts on every social media/publishing site you can think of, and link them all together. You can gain endless new readers and followers.

4. Don’t be afraid to approach companies to advertise or sponsor you. Want to attend an event so you can write about it on your blog after? Approach an affiliated company and pitch them the idea- they may just buy your ticket if you mention them in your post.

5. Post as often as you can, everyday is best, but make sure its quality. A limited number of people will continue reading your blog if you post 5 times a day, but each time is a mindless fact.

To read and connect with some great blogs visit the various contributors to tribes on Atomic Reach!

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The “Under and Over” use of Social Publishing

With billions of bloggers, multiple portals of media, search engine optimization options and social media sites popping up left, right and center. It is virtually impossible to ignore the fact that we are living in the midst of content overload. But while “most popular” links and suggested articles endlessly stack themselves on your browser, we have to wonder, why are companies not taking advantage of all of this information?

Companies, brands and stakeholders heavily rely on market research to further the growth of their businesses. Much of their research lays in the documented experiences of their consumers, target markets and specialists in their targeted industries. They’re always talking about getting customer evaluation and feedback on their products and services. We are simply suggesting that it’s time for these people to take advantage of what’s out there!

Although we are arguing that brands, stakeholders and businesses are underusing their internet resources, we can also understand where some of their hesitations lie.

•Is it a reliable source?

I think the issue with most businesses is that when they are reviewing feedback from internet resources, there is always the question of is this a reliable source?  Similar to when professors remind their students before writing a paper that Wikipedia is not a reliable source for academic papers, researchers are reluctant to trust these resources. Due to the accessibility and open policies of the internet, many resources and comments are questionable. It is imperative to ask whether these sources are reliable, however I think because of this notion, brands, companies and business’ undermine the power of great content! Remember it’s out there, you just need to sift between levels of content quality.

•Don’t judge a book by its cover

I suppose it’s easy to ignore content when the design doesn’t ooze of fancy flash player splash pages and doesn’t come from someone who has PH.D. next to his/her name. But, not everyone comes from a graphic design standpoint which means their content should not be ignored or brushed off just because their website wasn’t done by a professional graphic designer. Sometimes the best content comes from the most basic sites with important consumer information and real people. Find equilibrium. It’s also important not to discriminate, while simultaneously ensuring the selection process involves high quality contributors.

One of the issues is that there is far too wide of a gap between brands and companies and their consumers/most valued users. Build a bridge to that rift. Do your research and pay attention to users who have real things to say about your products and services. Discovering high content quality produced by real consumers might be the missing piece of information you’ve been looking for. And it’s just a browser away.

With so much content overload, why is there content under load in certain areas?

Brands, social publishing tools are available to help you take advantage of the universe and the really great content that is already out there.  And, the best part is you get to engage with and collaborate with your fans, customers and industry thought leaders.

Don’t undermine the power of social publishing.

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Flickr Bug

This one is walking the line of social media. Some people might consider it to be a social media site while others may not. What is this site I speak of?

It is the beloved Flickr. While some of you may despise Flickr, I personally enjoy the variety of photography from its creative contributors. First of all, I have to say, even if the resolution of your photos are mediocre, Flickr finds a way to make them look magnificent. The tagging and album organization is great as well as the batch processing option. Plus, you can email multiple albums to all of your friends even if they don’t have a registered Flickr account. I have also heard of many success stories from a friend. Talented photography students in his University class were being discovered on Flickr and were given opportunities to shoot for large companies! You just never know who’s scoping out your stuff.

Passionate photographers and photo admirers have flickred out that this social media site is the way to go.

 

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Favourite Articles

Coming soon… We’ll feature the most read and voted on articles on atomic reach!

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