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Listening Is Great, But So Is Asking

We’re all familiar with the expression of ‘listening’ in community management, but are you asking? I’m not talking about asking questions to increase engagement on your social channels, but asking to get feedback, to make things better.

Often companies make changes, and add new features without asking, or even consulting their communities. It’s not always necessary, and if you’re a company like Facebook, you kinda just expect your users to adapt to any changes you make. Asking your community the right questions can be beneficial in many ways.


  • For any feedback on what users like or don’t like about the product or service
  • If there are any features your members would like to see in your product
  • If there’s any type of content they would like to see more/less of
  • Your influencers and advocates to beta test new products/changes before launching them to the public

Your community will appreciate being a part of the picture, and it will help you create a better experience and product for them. After all, the product isn’t really about you, it’s for the people your serving. 


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Looking To Land That Sweet CM Gig? – Don’t Forget to Show Some Enthusiasm


You can find plenty of articles out there listing all the qualities and traits of a good community manager. You’ve gotta be a people person, knowledgable, a good writer, empathetic, a quick thinker, constantly learning. One thing I think that’s often forgotten is enthusiasm. We can list off our experiences, accomplishments, what we can do for the company, but if you aren’t showing enthusiasm for the position, then it most likely isn’t going to work out.

This is something I dealt with recently, first hand, and it’s not a great feeling. I saw the startup I wanted to work. for I was able to do my homework (as much as possible for a company that hadn’t launched, and didn’t have a functional website up yet.) I wrote up my cover letter as soon as I saw the posting. Later that day, I received an email inviting me to a phone call with the company. That following Friday I took the phone call. I was well prepared, had my notes and questions ready to go. I thought the call went well; they mentioned how prepared I was for the call, and they appreciated it. I sent my follow up email later that day.

Two weeks later, I get an email saying they wanted me to meet me in person. Apparently my call was good enough to get me a follow up. So, I began to prepare for my in-person meeting with the company. I was both anxious, and nervous. – It was a company I was really excited to be a part of, and they were still a team smaller than ten.  I sat down with the woman I had spoken to on the phone. We chatted a bit about the company, my experience, what they were looking for, what I was looking for. About 30 minutes later, she said it was time to meet with the CEO. (Note, I should’ve asked before hand how the interview process was set up, to help better prepare me) The CEO came over, and my nervousness level hit a new high. I had already emptied my brain with everything I had planned to say, I now felt like an idiot. The first question was the usual: “Tell me about yourself.” After that, I was again asked about my experience, and what led to my applying. I went on about why I applied, and she then asked if I had any questions. I tried to come up with some new ones, in which I mumbled a few things that came to mind. That about wrapped up my interview. She said thanks for coming in, we shook hands, and each went our merry way.

Later that evening, I began to work on my follow up email. I threw in some new ideas I had for the role, and touched on everything we talked about. That Sat evening, I get an email saying I wasn’t being considered for the role, and thanks for coming in. I was upset at first, I had invested so much time, effort, and thought into applying, and interviewing for the role. I quickly deleted the email. A few hours later, I decided to to write back to see If I could get some input about the interview. I said thanks for having me, and mentioned how much I really wanted to work for the company. I then asked for any feedback on my interview.

A couple days later, I got my answer. My initial email had shown my enthusiasm and that’s what grabbed their attention in the first place. My phone call was more about my homework and research. They weren’t too sure if they were going to call me into the office, but they decided to give me a chance. It was then in person, that I let my nervousness get the best of me, and didn’t show the enthusiasm the company was looking for.

When interviewing for a company as such (smaller than 10 people), a big part of the hire is going to be enthusiasm. Company culture is very important. While I really was enthusiastic about the job, had the experience, and did my homework, it was nerves that got the best of me.  It’s quite a disappointing feeling to miss out on a job opportunity because of nerves over experience. A lack of experience would be more understandable.

While things might look good on paper (or on a screen), remember it’s your enthusiasm that will help you land that next job. There are plenty of resources out there that give you suggestions on getting over nervousness, but you need to show the company with your body language and tone, that you really want the job.  Make sure to know who you’re meeting with, and how. If it’s a round table interview, or one on one. The more prepared you are, the more you can focus on your enthusiasm, instead of your nerves, and coming up with things on the spot.

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Why Personality Matters as a Community Manager

By now, I think most of us have an idea of what the role of the Community Manager entails.

Of course, as the role is still constantly evolving and changing it requires us to be on our toes 24/7.  As a community manager you have to take a good look at the company you’re working for and assess your true needs for the position. Depending on whether you’re at an agency or a start-up, the needs of the roles may include many different tasks and duties.

Communities will always differ wherever you find yourself working. That’s why personality makes up a huge part of the Community Manager role for each brand.

Do you have the right personality?

Take a look at the community you’re going to be working with before you take a position. The hiring manager should be well versed in understanding the needs of the open position because with whoever they hire, it needs to be a perfect fit.

Sometimes a person can adapt to many types of communities, but this doesn’t always hold true. The Community Manager for a liquor company is going to have a completely different personality than one for a healthcare company or a family oriented product. Then of course, you might be the face of a fictional cereal character, such as with my own experience, and it turned out it wasn’t the right role for me.

The mix of the CM’s personality and the brand’s persona is very important. If there isn’t a balance, it might not work out for either side.

If you’re assessing a new job opportunity, and are tasked with creating a balanced personality for a new brand, you need to look at language, tone, attitude, and many other aspects. You don’t want to find yourself saying the wrong thing and offending community members or the company you represent. Like the saying goes: “Loose lips sink ships.” It’s a lot easier to sink a ship than to raise it from the muggy depths.

Especially if your personality as the CM is a bit different then that of the community you’re managing, you need to be careful about what you say. There have been perfect examples with those behind the accounts for The Red Cross and Entenmann’s. Slips do happen.  All you can do is be honest, apologize and hope for the best.

Remember, it’s the community that matters first and foremost and you want to be able to talk and engage with them in the best way as possible. If the community manager is speaking in a language the community doesn’t understand, it probably wont work out.



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This Is Personal

In my previous post I started getting into how the social platforms we use everyday are also being used by marketers, by advertisers to learn what they can about consumers. Tools such as Radian6, FB insights, Sysomos and many others record demographics, sentiment, interests, keywords. These tools are built to pick up on behaviors and patterns and make sense out of all of them. Think of the recommendation tool on Foursquare, and other tools like Bizzy that take the info you give them, and start giving you ideas of other places to go, things to do and things to eat.

It’s all about you, your preferences, things you like. Pretty soon, these apps we use will be sitting on your shoulder, whispering into your ear by name, telling you what your next move is. They’re there to make your life easier, right? Why not start thinking for you, be one move ahead of you. Social networks are great because we share with our closest friends, our circles, get input from them. Deep inside, you have the things that you like. A recommendation from a friend may be great, but it doesn’t mean you’ll love it.

Think about the future of check-ins. Right now, you physically take out your phone and check into a location on Foursquare. From the app, you can see nearby deals, once you meet the requirements of the deal, you can claim it. The thing is, the deals are too broad. Think more personal. What if these apps really learn from us. Instead of pulling out your phone and checking in, all you do is step into a restaurant and the establishment knows you’re there. Based on prior information from your apps, it knows if you’re a vegan or vegetarian. Maybe you eat fish a lot. Your phone vibrates, you pull it out, and you have a personalized deal on your phone for Mahi-Mahi. Maybe if you order it, you get a glass of wine. Based on previous behaviors, its more likely you will order that dish because it’s the most appealing.

Think about shopping. You walk into a mall, and all of a sudden your favorite store in the mall sends you a notification of a deal going on the store because it now knows you’re there, and based on previous shopping history, you find that deal attractive. Maybe you walk into H&M, and from their P.O.S. records, they know you purchase V-Necks the most often. So, you can a personalized deal on your phone, buy two, get one free. It’s about one on one deals. The same thing will hold true online, your computers, tablets, smart phones. They all have the potential to learn about the individual using them, and target ads specifically ad you, with your name front and center. Perhaps as TVs because tethered to same networks our internet devices are using, advertising there as well will be targeted just at the person using it. The XBox lets you log onto individual profiles. With cameras being attached to everything, it’s not to hard for other devices to easily do the same, just by using facial recognition.

While platforms are learning now, I believe the next thing is personalization. While some people thought certain advertising was invasive, do you think this type of advertising would be considered invasive? It’s logical and it makes more sense.  Why waste time, effort and money trying to sell something to someone if it doesn’t make a connection with them?


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The “I Want It Now” Generation

Technological breakthroughs are happening around us every day. The way we communicate is constantly changing and evolving. The way we get our news, pass on information and research information happens in the blink of an eye. If we want something, we’ve got to have it now, we can’t wait for it. We don’t even have to leave our homes to go grocery shopping anymore, we can have those delivered to us simply by ordering online.

I remember back in high school while doing reports, we were still forced to use books, online resources weren’t allowed because their validity was questioned, digital encyclopedias were the only exception. With e-readers, books are heading six feet under. We have the capabilities to load  hundreds if not thousands of books, music and movies in our portable devices.  Everything has to be at our fingertips when we want it. What would happen if we woke up one day and the entire internet went down? We would be damned. That probably wont happen of course.

We’ve become the “I want it now” generation. It’s this mindset that’s allowing for businesses, brands, companies to take real advantage of consumers. For them, it’s become the “what can I learn about them?” generation. With a plethora of analytical  tools out there and recommendation engines, marketers and brands are finding out everything and anything about consumers. With Facebook and now Google+, your profile information is allowing for hyper-targeted ads to focus on you and you alone. While you are putting more and more information out there, there are others soaking in that information to use it later on. The more we want, the faster we want it, the more we adapt, we have to have the new shiny device, we have to be using the next cool platform. It’s in our nature.

While people teeter on the issues of privacy, it’s more likely the Y generation, or younger generation will be less prone to the ideas of privacy. Growing up into the technology, they’ll see it as helpful, fun and beneficial, and that’s the only thing that really matters to them. Does giving up so much information to these marketers, advertisers harm us in anyway?

In my next blog post, I’ll be talking about the future of marketing & advertising and how all this information collected about you will be used to target you, one on one. Remember, anything you say  can and will be used against you in a court of law. That or used for other purposes.

(Update: The follow-up piece:

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The Future of Advertising, Community and All Things Social

Often we come across the question  in moderated chats, on panels, and in our networks about the future of digital & community. Sure, social media is still something new and exciting. I believe that the term “social media” will be absorbed into something bigger. It will become such a routine part of everyday life there will no more need for said terms. Whether its through interaction with each other, sharing stories, updates, recommendations, interacting with favorite brands, though advertising, it’s about being personable. That’s the biggest things brands are really trying to do, they want to be able to relate with every individual on a one to one basis.

In the past advertising agencies would create ads for the mass, sure they would have their target market, but still, it was a huge market they were reaching out to. Creativity could only go so far. Facebook comes along, and using personal profiles and a person’s individual interests, brings in personal ads they can pinpoint and target almost anything. Still, the ads are becoming routine, it’s a small picture and a block of text, nothing very exciting. As the web becomes more social, search engines are pulling from social profiles and really getting to “know” users. Interactive web banners will adapt to the individual  browsing the web. As algorithms are evolving, they’re beginning to pick up the smallest patterns and learn behavior and will be able to to make not only recommendations for, but maybe even start making decisions for you. You won’t see  recommended friends on FB or whatever network is in existence, they’ll be added automatically.

With Google+ rolling out, their network could really revolutionize the whole web experience. If and when people start updating profiles to Google, it’s then that everything will become even more one on one in one huge connected experience. People really are different, and if you want to make true, real connections, you need to be able to understand where they are coming from. In shopping malls per se we’ll begin to see interactive billboards. They will all be camera operated, scanning people passing by, and based on sex, age, maybe even clothing style, they’ll post what they believe is an ad that will suit you personally. Maybe they’ll send that information to a database that will send something back to the smart device in your pocket offering you a personalized deal at a store in the mall.

Brands need to be on top of technology 24/7 if they really want to be connecting with fans as personably as possible. As for the communities and fans that fuel brands, the same methods need to be adapted. I’d like to see networks that translate automatically between users. For example, my FB is set to English, and yours to Mandarin Chinese. We become friends, I can see your page in English, and you see mine in Mandarin, we then are able to communicate flawlessly through an application that does all the translation for us. It’s innovation like that, that could really help tear down language barrier between people. I can see that happening somewhere in the future.

Then we have augmented reality, thats a whole other story and innovation. Imagine online shopping from home when the camera on your computer scans you, then virtually places the clothes on a 3-D model of yourself you can spin around and check out. There’s already been a Kinect hack that does. There’s plenty of other uses in the real world where your phone or tablet places virtual objects on  screen in the real environment around you.

Only time can really tell what comes next, but never be afraid to adopt new technologies. It’s those who hesitate that will either be left behind, or caught behind the competition. That’s not really what anyone wants. You may not always be excited to jump on the bandwagon, but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and get with the times.

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“Like” becomes the new Share Button

If you hadnt noticed before, when you “liked” something on the internet via the like button, it would show up in your news feed as small copy. It wasn’t deemed big enough to show up large-sized in a friend’s news feed. Then you had the share button. The article or media piece you shared showed up big and bold in the news feed. You would see whatever thumbnail photo or video of the article you decided to share. We could go through the internet liking piece after piece and it never became a nuisance on our FB wall. The other day I noticed while using Mashable Follow, which gives me the option to Share (send it to Twitter and FB) that after sharing it and liking it, it showed up twice in my feed as being shared. The previous “like” had changed into a large, news worthy feed post. Which can or cannot seem obtrusive. What does this mean for the “like” button. Will people now limit when they click it so it doesn’t constantly take up too much space on the feed? What will you do?

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