This is a guest post from Carrie Jones. Carrie is the editorial director of CMX Media, runs the SF Community Managers group, and develops strategy for several community-focused projects. She lives and works in San Francisco. Say hi at @caremjo.
As a professional community builder, I don’t usually write purely about social media. In fact, I typically try to steer clear of this discussion entirely. But over the last few months, I’ve found myself using social media in ways that are nearly impossible to scale.
In the past, I’ve managed communities for brands as well for small startup projects and for my own “side hustles,” as I lovingly refer to them. Today, I manage community for several projects large and small, including my San Francisco Community Managers meetup group, CloudPeeps, and – most recently – as a facet of my work as editorial director of CMX Media. All of these projects amplify and flow into one another, but at first I found that my time spent on social media was largely unfocused and unproductive. I’d spend hours scouring blogs or curating feeds without much impact. So I sat down and outlined the four key areas where I was spending my time on social media to find where the bottlenecks were.
Community Managers Generally Use Social Media for…
- Monitoring important conversations.
- Joining those conversations.
- Starting your own conversations on behalf of a brand or in your community platform.
- Developing a larger community strategy based off of who you connect with and what you learn.
And then I found ways to streamline these things so that I could do all four activities for all of my projects in less time. Now I do the first three in a little more than an hour so I can focus on strategy and next-level community programs, the real bulk of where I need to spend my time.
1. Monitor important conversations.
10 minutes, 2-3 times per day.
In Mention, I’ve set up alerts for each of my projects. Every brand I work with gets their own customized and detailed alert. Not only do I add in the brand’s name (the name by itself can be almost useless at first if you’re working with a small startup), but also important keywords to track.
Here, you’ll see how I do this for one of my projects, San Francisco Community Managers. I input the name of the group itself as well as keywords around the topic. I make sure to exclude the #SMM (social media management) hashtag so I don’t get anything related to social media. I also only monitor conversations in English and Hebrew. Why Hebrew? We just received a few fans in Tel Aviv, so I want to stay in touch!
I generally sift through the mentions 2-3 times per day, and it yields a great deal of insight into what people are sharing around our events, who is meeting whom, and what is important to them. I can continue introducing people to one another or react quickly to questions. I quite enjoyed this particular interaction that happened just the other day:
2. Join the conversations.
30 minutes per day.
Next, I take the conversations I see going on via Mention and I join them. More often than not, this is simply a matter of tweeting or re-tweeting content that is relevant, so it takes seconds. But the most impactful thing I’ve found is responding to relevant content on Reddit, Quora, forums, and blogs. This is what was once especially time consuming for me, but the most effective way of finding new community members.
And on top of how easy it is to do this, it makes you seem like some sort of brilliant sleuth, who can be everywhere at once on the Internet. So, finally, you can be responsive and in charge of how your brand is perceived on sites that are usually hard to track, like Reddit and Quora.
This is also where the Buffer plug-in becomes especially important. It’s likely that you don’t want to re-tweet and post excessively on any of your social channels, so you simply integrate them into your Buffer queue so they go out over time. Voila! Content for days.
During this phase, I also look to discover niche bloggers or people to continue following. When you’re able to discover people talking about topics of interest and engage with them long-term in a scaleable way? That’s powerful.
For instance, I just discovered two amazing community professionals through blog posts tagged with the #cmgr hashtag on twitter: Vanessa DiMauro and Roisin McCormack.
I immediately added this blog to my Feedly blogroll.
Right after that, I Buffered this image to share Roisin’s story and say hello.
Sometimes I will escalate a post to other community members or clients to get their opinion, and then I’ll go on my merry way.
3. Add new conversations and create helpful content.
20-30 Minutes per day.
So now we’ve done some reactive monitoring, but it’s also important to monitor industry conversations and create your own conversations around what others are talking about. Feedly Pro and Buffer integrate to allow me to monitor my favorite blogs, comment easily, and follow up.
I get a good 60% of my content from Feedly and the other 40% from related Mention posts, so it’s not just a passive tool that I check in to. It is vital to my work. I often find that I’m able to add blogs and develop deeper relationships with writers through the people I discover and add to my feed.
From here, I can easily craft new posts, articles, and case studies to share with others in my community.
4. Develop a strategy: how does this all fit together?
This is the really fun stuff that pulls all of the previous pieces together. Now that you’ve spent time listening to conversations, creating content, and building relationships, you can begin to think about long-term strategy for how to bring all of these voices together.
Perhaps you’ve connected with a lot of people in one area and an event planner or an office with a great event venue: now you can begin to think about doing local meetups. Perhaps you’ve connected with enough bloggers that it’s time to create a more formal blogging network. And maybe you’ve made some great friends and connections who can help you out in times of need. Whatever it is, this is when the real community building happens, and now you’ve got a few extra hours in your day to think about next-level connections with others.
So congratulations on saving yourself lots of time. We should high five in person some time if you’re ever in San Francisco. After all, I’ve got some free time to meet up for coffee now.