BTVSMB – Community Management

Burlington-Vermont-Social-Media-Breakfast-BTVSMB-LogoAnother #BTVSMB (or, for the newcomer, Burlington Vermont Social Media Breakfast), another great set of speakers (“Community Managers” Sara Steele Rogers of Boloco and Anthony Quintano of NBC News), and another mindmap.  Just your average rainy April Tuesday morning in Burlington.  I love that this is my first post after finishing up my Green MBA – nothing like a #BTVSMB to give me the prompt I need to get posting again after taking some time to work on the crazy last semester buildup.  On to the event!

These events are always interesting and thought provoking (and fun, usually), and today was no exception.  Sara and Anthony were both on point, and shared helpful tips for those that are considering either becoming a community manager, hiring one, or developing one internally.  Nothing outrageous or brand new, but some interesting insight and perspective from the inside of two very different organizations.

I agreed with more or less everything that they shared, particularly the big picture stuff (using tools to listen, reach out, connect, provide value, etc.)  There were only two things either said that I had a different perspective/take on, and would like to share those with you:

One was that an organization that is using social media tools and managing their community doesn’t need to be concerned with ROI – that it should be about building community and making connections.  I agree with the building community and making connections part, but this effort has to be rooted somewhere in the strategic plan of the business.  If we want to continue to be able to make strides in using these tools, we are definitely going to need to be able to show the business case for it, and show a return at some point).  These “metrics” may not be easily defined or pulled out of website data gathering.  That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, can’t be created, and can’t be tracked.  Creating and tracking this takes a bit of creativity, as there is not always a clear causal relationship between building a community (or connecting with customers) and increasing sales.  We, as social media champions, need to do a better job of making the business case for using the tools by using the language that managers expect to help make decisions.[pullquote] We, as social media champions, need to do a better job of making the business case for using the tools by using the language that managers expect to help make decisions.[/pullquote]

The other point I had a different take on was that using mobile devices to post was somehow inherently unsafe or unstable.  All the tools that we use can at times be inherently unsafe and/or unstable (particularly third party apps like Tweetdeck).  We use these apps and tools to broadcast.  We should spend more time making sure that what we broadcast is kind, necessary, important, and helpful than worrying about the inherent stability of the tool.  The example given was the Chrysler twitter person drops the f-bomb fiasco, which I think was more about making an incredibly bad decision to post something that was neither kind, necessary, important, or helpful than it was about making a mistake about which account was used because the mobile twitter app has login challenges.  The bigger lesson in this example for me is about the importance of editing what we share, and paying close attention to what we are doing when we communicate online.  I think that I agree with the speaker fundamentally, I just saw some differences in the Chrysler case (and using mobile devices to post).

So that was what I had a different take on – only fair to share what I agreed with.  My key takeaway?  If you want to be a community manager, you have to be passionate about what you do – and then use that passion to drive you to build your skills.  It’s also worth noting that both speakers were able to communicate what a Community Manager should do – and, if you walked in with no knowledge of what a CM is or what they should do, you would have walked out having a pretty firm handle on this stuff.

The event was, as always, a blast.  I appreciated hearing some different perspectives, and different language to describe what we do.  Sara and Anthony both shared their perspective and insight, and I think they did an excellent job of discussing what their daily operations look like.  As for language, I love that Boloco calls their meet ups over Burritos “Burrit-ups”.  Classic. [pullquote]I love that Boloco calls their meet ups over Burritos “Burrit-ups”.  Classic.[/pullquote] Another classic language moment came from the audience.  Sara shared that Boloco responds to every tweet and comment.  An audience member asked how they can possibly respond to “every piece of tweet.”  I guess that is a matter of perspective as well.

The mindmaps follow below.  As always, these are taken “in the moment” and are meant to quickly capture the information that the speakers share and loosely organize it in a way that can be helpful to someone who was there (or give an idea of what was covered to someone that couldn’t make it).  They aren’t meant to be perfect, just give a visual representation of what was discussed.  Business thoughts and insights shared by Anthony and Sara are in Blue, personal stuff they shared about themselves is in green, and my editorial comments are in orange.

Anthony Quintano - Click twice to fully embiggen.













Sara Steele Rogers - Click twice to fully embiggen.













(EDIT:  Check out more mindmaps and thoughts on the BTVSMB Community Management event from the Thoughtfaucet apprentice Brett Chalupa!)

Did you go this morning?  What was your key takeaway?  What questions went unanswered?