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What IS a Community Manager, Anyway?

A few weeks ago I was invited to talk on a panel for My Community Manager‘s #CMGRHangout. The topic was how community managers survive their day-to-day. It was a really interesting topic, and I learned some good stuff from my peers.

But, back up a sec – WTF is a community manager (hereon referred to as cmgr)? Well, that’s kind of a loaded question that has a lot of different answers, depending on who you talk to. Generally, when people ask what I do, I just say I work in “social media”, which conjures up its own ideas of what I do all day.

Image Credit: MISSELIAH 2.0

So I decided to put together a list of things that cmgrs are, because I think it’s important that people understand the scope of what social media entails. And also I like lists.

1. We are data nerds

When you’re working in social, you need to have a strategy. To formulate that strategy, you define goals. And how do you know if your strategy is working towards those goals? DATA. And lots of it.

I use a couple tools to track the performance of my social media efforts, and I track them weekly, monthly and quarterly in a spreadsheet. At the end of the month/quarter, I make a super kickass PowerPoint (star wipes FTW) to show my boss where we were, where we are, and where I think we should be going with our social strategy.

You need to be able to look at raw data, analyze it, and draw conclusions based on the trends you’re seeing as to how you should proceed. It’s pretty cool, actually. *pushes glasses up nose*

2. We are copywriters

Social media is about WRITING. Getting people to pay attention, click, engage – the number one way to do that is based on your wording. Just like a content marketer does their best to write eye-catching headlines, we work within character limits to get our story across as succinctly as possible, while still keeping it interesting.

And not all platforms are the same, either. What works on Twitter in 140 characters may not work on Facebook (a.k.a. PLEASE STOP USING HASHTAGS ON FACEBOOK).

Not my best work, but you get it.

Not my best work, but you get it.

Different audiences, different ways of delivering information – if you don’t have good writing skills, you’re dead in the water. Sorry kids.

3. We are content creators and curators

When you work in social, whether for a brand or yourself, there’s a level of etiquette around how much you self-promote. Think of it as a cocktail party: if you’re in a group constantly talking about what YOU did last weekend and how YOUR job is going and OH did I tell you about (insert latest accomplishment here), no one is going to want to stand around listening to that. They’ll probably stop inviting you places – and then you’ll be on your couch on a Friday night drinking red wine from a bottle, telling your dog how great you are. But I digress.

There’s what we call the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time you promote other people’s stuff, and 20% of the time you talk about yourself. I’m not going to get into the specific reasoning for that, however, it does equal quite a bit of work for a cmgr.

Generally, you have a content calendar of stuff you want to promote/share/talk about for the month (created content). I tend to work with our content specialist/blog writer and editor extraordinaire/my personal cheerleader, Emma, on this.

In addition, you have the task of finding other stuff from other sources (blog articles, videos, interesting tidbits) to share with your audience (curated content). It SOUNDS easy, but sometimes it can be really, really, REALLY hard. Especially when everyone is writing about the same damn thing over and over. Which happens pretty often.

4. We are designers

Ok, so not designers in the TRADITIONAL sense. And I don’t mean to take anything away from the super talented people I know who are designers. But, sometimes you need a graphic really quick, and you don’t want to bother your super talented but also SUPER BUSY designer. That’s when you take matters into your own hands.

Luckily, there are a lot of web apps that make designing halfway-decent looking stuff insanely easy (my fave is Canva), which lets me whip up Motivation Monday or Fun Fact Friday graphics in less time than it would take for me to run a mile.

….I’m a really slow runner.

5. We are researchers

You know how people are always complaining every time Facebook makes a small change to your newsfeed? WELCOME TO OUR LIVES, EVERY OTHER DAY.

There is so much stuff that happens behind the scenes of your favorite social networks, and a lot of the changes (mainly in Facebook’s case) work against brands and marketers trying to use them as advertising channels. What does this mean for a cmgr?

Reading. Lots and LOTS of reading. I scroll through social media blogs every day to make sure I keep up to date on any changes happening anywhere, learn new methods of circumventing those changes (or just ideas on how to do my job better), and just to stay current on other stuff happening in the social media world.

And finally…

We’re a pretty cool bunch. I mean, @JakeStateFarm is handled by at least one (probably more) of us. We’re creative, funny, and pretty fun to go get a beer with. So go ahead, applaud your local cmgr!

There’s probably a lot that I’m missing (it is a Sunday afternoon), but that’s what the comment section is for! What does the cmgr title mean to you?

Image credit: MISSEILAH 2.0

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