I attended a community management workshop by the lovely Kate Kendall last night. I have worked properly in community management the last 2.5 years, and spent the three years before that dipping my toes in the water and experimenting with various projects I was working on, both on and offline. I’ve learnt all that I know while on the job, through self-initiated research and by getting in touch with some very clever people. Last night was a good way for me to get a bit of grounding on the subject, and listen to the difficulties and obstacles that other community managers have come across in their work.
I definitely got a lot out of the session. Kate and some of the other participants brought up some really interesting thoughts and ideas that helped me think about different and more interesting ways to approach some of the projects that I’m working on at the moment.
Some points that I managed to scribble down between frantic coffee guzzling, nodding and mm-hmming:
- I always find myself going on about this, and I’m glad that Kate brought it up at the start of her presentation. Social is a medium. It facilitates. The reason behind using social as a medium? Building a rich, and organic community.
- Understand why people should care about your brand in a cluttered market. What is their motivation?
- Online vs. offline communities. Working with them as separate entities will hinder a smooth and, again, organic communication flow.
- Is community management a junior role? A lot of fresh graduates are getting into the scene, but does it take more than owning an active Twitter and Facebook account to do the job well? The consensus was yes: one needs to have a solid foundation in marketing communications and branding to be able to execute effectively.
- We talked a lot about content curation. In an environment where people are craving quality and rich content amidst so much clutter, it is being exceedingly important to be able to weed out the best stuff. The focus is taken away from creating great content, and from trying to outdo each other. Instead, try paying more attention to opinion leaders and existing ideas and then evaluating, analysing and sharing. Kate’s The Fetch is a fantastic example that I highly recommend.
- How relevant is your 6 month, 12 month, or 5 year plan in today’s climate? Community managers, and everyone working in the tech industry need to be extremely reactive and adaptive to change.
- The importance of storytelling. Create a story for your brand, stick to it, and let it grow.
It was definitely an interesting workshop that got me thinking about a couple of things. At the moment, I am managing/developing strategy for three communities: in grassroots sport, music and fashion retail. All three are extremely different in terms of content and communication structure. However, the framework is always the same.
I’m always looking to get involved in anything exciting, creative and innovative. If you think we can do something good together, email or @ me. I’ve got some ideas in the pipeline that I’d love to bring to life (thanks Kate, for inspiring me to get off my bum and get things going!), so if you’re a developer/designer looking to partner up with a strategy dude (read: me) to do something fun, also get in touch.