Welcome to WrapUp, a series of Q&A-based posts!
My primary goal is to “learn something I can directly apply to my professional life.” For this series I’ll be interviewing or surveying a variety of folks on topics related to job roles (e.g., community manager, event manager, brand strategist) and to functions/processes (e.g., marketing automation, analytics, design) that relate to my professional scope.
Feel free to contact me if you want to be interviewed!
I kicked off this series with the perspectives of the very talented Albert Qian. Albert is a social media and digital marketing professional with a background in the high tech sector. He’s passionate about helping others attain employment in the field of marketing as well as assisting small businesses and start-ups with their social media through speaking and freelancing. You can follow Albert on Twitter and check out his LinkedIn profile.
Define “Community Manager.” AQ: A CM is someone who manages an online community around a particular topic. They are someone who manages the conversation, handles customer support, creates conversation, and measures the ROI of the community as it relates back to the business. This is not so much a revenue center for any business, but a support function.
Online communities, offline communities, either, both, or blended approach – thoughts, preferences, pros/cons? AQ: I think you need to have both. People function best face-to-face, so being able to integrate the two is ideal. I prefer to have both.
What are the best/worst aspects of being a CM? AQ: The best aspect about being a community manager is being a resource-driver. If you aren’t driving resources, you aren’t doing your job. The worst part is trying to keep up with everything everybody is saying.
What methods have you found useful to increase the size, engagement and reach of your communities? How do you get passive members to become active participants, contributors, and community champions/ambassadors? AQ: The best method is organic. When running a community, it’s important to share what you are but also to deliver a value-add to someone’s life. You have to be able to really sell others on why they should be in your community. In the community you build passive members into champions by giving them good case studies to work from, like landing a successful job, getting connected, etc.
What do you think will be the “next BIG thing” in the world of communities/community management? Developing trends to track? AQ: I think communities ARE the next thing. You can take a look at this from two separate areas. First, the collaborative economy (e.g., Lyft, Airbnb, Meetup) has brought people together to share ideas, things, and much, much more. People are coming offline from doing online things and getting to know each other over it as well. Second, with social networking now reaching its apex in terms of who comes out ahead (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), there’s not much room for another network to spring up and take over the reins, nor should they. I believe the second coming of social networking will be a greater rise in niche networks. We’ve already seen some evidence in this with sites like Ravelry (people who knit), Etsy (people who make stuff and sell it), and more. These communities supplement mainstream social networks and may even replace them at some point when people discover that they need to focus in order to get their greatest ROI (which can be anything from personal happiness to money).
What community management tools do you recommend for hosting, managing, analyzing, etc. communities? AQ: Some tools: Facebook Groups – A great tool actually since all you have to do is create the community and people will come so long as you market. Blogging tools – You can blog on your own or use WordPress. Meetup.com – If you want to bring your community into the live time.
Words of advice to other CMs? To community members? AQ: The biggest lesson a CM can learn is that communities do not belong to the CM; they belong to the community. If you build it they will come, but it’s the members who decide if they want to stay. So, the more reasons you give them to stay and the more you let them run the punch bowl, DJ and photo booth, the more they are likely to stay.
Please note: This was originally published in June 2014 on a previous blog of mine. But—as the content (with a few tweaks) is evergreen—I'm recycling it here. :-)