Community Managers: Expect the Unexpected

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Each year millions of students graduate in various fields and have no clue what they will do for work. That actually happened to me. I graduated in 2010 with a MA in Leadership and Management from York, England. My thesis was on Social Media & Leadership, which meant many surveys were conducted through Twitter. During this time I was fortunate to virtually meet my next employer @SocialNicole.  Once I returned home stateside I started off as an intern and later promoted to Community Manager.  I really didn’t have any understanding what the role was but I was absolutely excited.  

What Skills Have I Learned From Being a CM:

  • Patience is a virtue.  This has never been a strong skill for me – I always want immediate feedback and want to see results. Unfortunately with online communities you have to take it like a science experiment – you have created a community and now it’s time to watch it grow.
  • Communicate in a different tone. This was really interesting part for me – as an avid ‘social butterfly ‘– I had to change my tone when speaking in various different communities. At first it is really fun because you feel like a ‘ghost writer’ but once you communicate and get to know fans/tweeps  it can get hard because you just want to be ‘real and unveil your mask’.
  • Juggling can seem hard at first – At first I must admit – I don’t like juggling projects/clients (yet I like the same routine daily) but multitasking in this role gave me a sense of challenge and accomplishment regarding working on various projects etc.
  • Networking.   I have never been great at meeting people and telling them what I actually do for a job.  With being a Community Manager it opens you up to various social media events and to have the ability to connect with other individuals. Though in my case I could only be vague in what I did (because you’re not supposed to reveal who the clients are).


What I Wish I Had Learned:

  • Technology is HUGE.  When I started my job I only had my 3 year old HP with a few keys missing and a battery that was nearly dead (unless plugged in).   Unfortunately I decided to hold off on purchasing other ‘devices’ but that was poor judgment on my part.  As a CM – you constantly need to be connected.
  • SEO/Analytics etc. I love learning! Unfortunately when working for a smaller company you don’t always get the chance to learn about the ins/outs about other parts of social media.

Have you recently become a community manager? What unexpected things are you finding?

Katie Little

Community Manager at SocialNicole
Prior to joining SocialNicole, Katie completed undergraduate in communications from Augsburg College and holds a graduate degree in leadership and management with a focus on social media and leadership from York St. John University in York, England. Katie’s strong background in customer relations, communications and leadership has contributed to her many successes.
In her spare time Katie caters to the whims of many canine companions through her business Your Puppy Nanny where she provides “loving care for when you’re not there…”

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19 comments
larboz
larboz

Hi Katie,Under the things you wish you had learned before you list Technology. Is it just being connected all the time or are there other aspects of technology that you had to deal with?

JMattHicks
JMattHicks

"Communicate in a different tone. This was really interesting part for me – as an avid ‘social butterfly ‘– I had to change my tone when speaking in various different communities."THIS. Yes. When I first moved to the Bay Area from the Southern US, it was a cultural shock. I started as an intern for Livefyre, and born and raised in a military family, everything was "yes sir/no sir, yes ma'am/no ma'am." No exceptions.jkretch and jennalanger Had to beat it out of me. No, seriously, I honestly think at one point I got a (playful, but serious too!) jab in the ribs one time when being so "formal" all of the time.Being in community management has definitely being a growth process, allowing me to learn and assess each unique interaction to understand the proper tone and approach. Not only has it helped with community management (as you don't speak to a frustrated user like you do a long-time community member who's in jest, or a curious commenter like you would a coworker), but it's allowed me to be a more analytical in face to face situations as well. It's key, and something I think is a skill we should always be watching others to learn from and sharpen our skills.I'm gonna stop there, because I could go on all day. Great post, you got me good on this one! Love having you all on Livefyre, and if you ever need anything just give me a shout, I'd be more than happy to help in any way I can.

marcymassura1
marcymassura1

Hey Katie. Contact me at mmassura@webershandwick regarding the first line of your bio....let's talk. Would love to learn more about what you have been doing..... :)

ErinMMarguerite
ErinMMarguerite

Katie, you are bringing me back! I too had no idea what a community manager was when I was given the position a year ago. Ryland Devero wrote a post last month on the importance of listening to your community. I agree listening to their conversations and learning what makes your community tick is essential to help it grow. Personally, I've also learned to listen to the CM Pros of my personal community. Those who are pioneering our profession are the best resources for advice and inspiration.

KT_Little
KT_Little

@larboz No I didn't have to learn that - but one of the down sides ws not being exposed to new opportunities that I could learn about like example is SEO

KT_Little
KT_Little

I think being connected all the time for sure - because I have never had a job in my life that was demanding per say. Yes I have held customer service positions but that is more 9-5 type of job. Before I got this job I'd say I was fairly ok with technology - but now I say I'm savvy and always want to get the latest gadgets (that I can afford). I hope that answers your question. @larboz

larboz
larboz

@JMattHicks jkretchjennalanger How hard is it to determine the motivation of who you are interacting with? What words of advice would you (or anyone) have on to learn that skill?

KT_Little
KT_Little

@JMattHicksjkretchjennalanger Thanks so much. Sometimes I found it a bit difficult creating a different tone voice for each client. On a silly note sometimes I felt like I am living multiple lives - if that makes sense?

KT_Little
KT_Little

@marcymassura1@webershandwick Hi Marcy! Just sent you an email. Look forward to your response

Katie Little
Katie Little

Hi Marcy! I just sent you an email. Look forward to your response.

tamcdonald
tamcdonald

@marcymassura1@webershandwick Marcy, Thank you so much for reading and reaching out.

lhridge
lhridge

@ErinMMarguerite Couldn't agree more! Listening is key. Curious - who some of the CM "pioneers" (or resources) you found most helpful? I'm always on the lookout for fresh perspectives and am currently building up my CM bookmark folder - would love to add your suggestions to that list.

KT_Little
KT_Little

@ErinMMargueriteHey Erin! When I was doing my research for my thesis I interviewed social media consultants and really didn’t know much passed that role. I really loved being a CM – but I rather join a bigger company that I can obviously grow in and keep on learning. I remember the first time I told my friends/family what I did for a job and they laughed as they said it sounded simple and easy – but they now understand how hard work it is, that we are ambassadors for clients etc. Thanks for commenting on my post.Happy New Year!

Katie Little
Katie Little

Hey Erin! When I was doing my research for my thesis I interviewed social media consultants and really didn't know much passed that role. I really loved being a CM - but I rather join a bigger company that I can obviously grow in and keep on learning. I remember the first time I told my friends/family what I did for a job and they laughed as they said it sounded simple and easy - but they now understand how hard work it is, that we are ambassadors for clients etc. Thanks for commenting on my post.Happy New Year!

larboz
larboz

@KT_Little Sure did, I was curious if you had barriers as far as needing to learn HTML or Javascript and the like. Thanks for the reply!

lhridge
lhridge

@KT_Little So funny you say that! I am a newly minted community manager and one of the first things I did was take the small cork boards (come in packs of 4) and created a "personality" board for each of the brands I manage to help put me in the zone. I jump back and forth between speaking to moms, gamers, and "suits;" the boards are a great visual reminder to have at my desk!

ErinMMarguerite
ErinMMarguerite

@KT_Little I can totally relate to confused family bit. They too were unsure of what work I was doing or if the little startup that hired me would gain any ground. It's a wonderful feeling when family and friends understand that we're doing something pretty greart :) Good luck to you in all your personal and professional endeavors! Happy New Year!

tamcdonald
tamcdonald

@KT_Little@ErinMMarguerite Now we need Erin to write a post for us. I'm hoping some students will want to share what they think a community manager is and ask what questions they have. That's what this site is all about. Sharing knowledge and helping advance the understanding of community management.

ErinMMarguerite
ErinMMarguerite

@tamcdonald Tim I'd be honored. Why don't we reconnect and discuss how I can help in this regard after the holiday? You know where to find me :)

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