Social Media

Community Management: Not An Entry-Level Gig

Today I threw this question out there on Twitter for my personal community:

I got a lot of support on this front…

When I came into my community management gig I had about a year of agency PR experience. So, that’s not a ton of professional experience, right? That said, I did  six internships throughout college that added up to some semi-professional experience that I think aided in my preparation for this role.

I say this because come the new year many college seniors will be looking for jobs post-graduation. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, just like I was, you are going to apply to many different job postings. I think you should focus on the ones along the lines of:

  • Marketing coordinator
  • Social media coordinator
  • Account coordinator
  • PR assistant

There may certainly be the occasional rockstar/prodigy out there that can step up and handle this amount of responsibility right out of college. If you know you are that, then ignore what I say and go get the community manager gig you know you want and deserve. But, I think for the most part, people are better off getting some actual on-the-job experience so that you can really kick butt in the CM role.

Not all CM roles are created equal. I happen to do a lot of extra marketing stuff because I work at a startup. But, here are some things I do in my job and the type of professional experience that will help you:

1. Content Creation – I direct the content for my company’s blog. In the new year we will expand this to ebooks and more offerings.

  • Experience you should get: Knowledge of the industry you’re writing about, SEO, Google Analytics, journalism, general grammatical aptitude…

2. Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn Princess – I’m the internet voice of my company’s brand.

  • Experience you should get: Run your own Twitter account, participate in Twitter chats to develop your own voice, write a blog to develop your own voice

3. Strategic Communications – When we screw up, I talk to people about it

  • Experience you should get: Public relations, crisis communications. (Tip: Be an account coordinator at an agency and read the account emails you’re cc’d on, even if it doesn’t require action on your part.)

4. Social Media Strategist – I decide what we’ll Tweet, from what tool, and I measure it to see how effective it was

As you can see, this is a multi-faceted role. It varies at every organization. Personally, it was a role I had to grow into as an ’09 grad, and luckily I loved it enough to put in the hours and additional effort it took to step up to where I needed to be despite my lack of professional experience. What I’m trying to say is that there is a lot more that goes into fostering, establishing, managing and measuring successful community programs than may first appear. We don’t actually just Tweet for a living!

So, 2011 grads, get some work experience. Learn some marketing, customer service and social media. Become the best writer you can become. Learn about the industry in which you think you want to manage an online community. How much work experience do you need? I heard at a conference that five to seven years was the target. I don’t know about that. I think two years is fair. But that, my friends, is what I’m hoping you’ll comment on.

Tribute Pages and Facebook Groups: Can Community Managers Help?

By now, you may have heard of the tragic loss of Jenny-Lyn Watson, a 20-year junior at Mercyhurst College who was killed by her ex-boyfriend last month. She went home for Thanksgiving break and went missing Saturday, November 20th. A week later her body was found in a park near her home in Liverpool, NY.

The week-long search for her sparked extensive media coverage of her case. In social media, a Facebook group grew rapidly with messages from friends passing along current information about the case. The Facebook group now has over 26,000 members. A search for Jenny-Lyn Watson on Facebook turns up dozens of tribute pages, sadly, some restricted to no commenting.

Why no commenting? Well, there are trolls. There are people who write dumb shit in online forums. But I’m compassionate. I think people get angry and upset. Even if they didn’t personally know the family, maybe the situation hits close to home for them and it sparks a misplaced outburst. Is that ok? No. But I try to believe that people are good, just hurt, and not just trolls.

Even the pages that allow for commenting show that there’s trouble controlling the comments. Sometimes, they have to shut down the commenting capabilities because of disrespect.

My question to the community managers is this: What can we do to help? I’m serious. We are professionals with experience establishing and moderating online forums. Raise your hand if you are in charge managing one of these for your company:

  • Twitter account
  • Facebook page
  • LinkedIn group
  • Independently made Q&A site (Like this qHub one I run)
  • Message board
  • Blog comments

Did you raise your hand? This means you have experience dealing with online conversations. You have likely written community guidelines, flagged comments, done a little policing, done a little engaging in an online community that is essentially similar to a Facebook tribute page.

Maybe we could help set up the pages and manage it during the crisis period. We could write guidelines, flag comments, moderate the page, etc. Or, we could simply offer training or “on call” advice to those who wish to moderate the pages. Would it be tough work? Yes. It’s a tribute page. This is sad and awful and real and it sucks. But I had this re-occurring thought about the whole thing: I didn’t know Jenny-Lyn. However, someone that knew her very well is managing this page right now in the middle of grieving. I don’t know if the page is making his or her process any easier, and maybe a little help from someone like myself could.

In November 2008 my friend Lindsay died in a tragic accident. She was in critical condition for several days, and the fastest way to get information was through a Facebook group. It was updated much quicker than the traditional news outlets. When it came to finding news from traditional news outlets, I would see awful, hateful things written about the situation in the article comments. Much worse were the comments in community forums that popped up in a Google search. One person’s honest search for information turned into a twisted game of dodging digital landmines. Seeing how media and communication had changed during that experience is what got me involved in social media.

So, I can’t say I know how Jenny-Lyn’s friends feel when they see the comments. But I can relate somewhat. And I’m wondering what my next steps are.

A Life Told Online: It’s Complicated

This video is getting a lot of buzz and I think it’s certainly worth a look. It’s basically a cool take on how so much of our lives are lived on Facebook – and that’s just for your average Joe, not even a social media chick like myself that does this social media stuff for a living.

People blog and talk a lot about professional and personal balance in social media, and in conferences they stand up and say to “just get over it.” They’re right, at some point we have to just get over it. Google knows no difference. Your personal and professional accounts, opinions and profiles are this big hot mess of an online presence. If you aren’t comfortable with mixing that, you probably aren’t in the right business.

That said, I just want to put it out there that it’s still hard.

It’s hard because people my age haven’t only used social media for business use. We joined Facebook before we left for college, to meet our roommates and classmates online before we moved in freshman year. We joined before “grown ups” were on there, before there were fan pages to manage and before FBML was invented. We put dumb stuff up there sometimes because we didn’t know better. Facebook was an epicenter and broadcast portal for drama. And for some, with jobs that don’t matter so much what your “personal brand” and “online presence” is – it still is.

Now I’m using Facebook as a marketing tool, and it’s a weird conflict. I login to update my business’ fan page or create an event for a Tweetup or network with other community managers in the community managers group, and “on my way to work,” I’m bombarded by a parade of other people’s life choices, aka the news feed, leaving me feeling distracted and confused. All I wanted to do was plan a damn Tweetup and move on to the next task for the day. Now I’m questioning my path to personal success!

I don’t think that having separate personal and professional Facebook is the answer. Having two separate accounts would almost further distance the professional/personal sides and intensify the identity crisis, I think. Plus, in my case, it’s probably too late for that. It probably comes down to having more self-assurance and comparing myself less to people I don’t know anymore, filtering them out of my news feed even.

Anyone else struggle with this, even if we’re not supposed to admit that we struggle with this?

Social Media: If I Started Today

I’m feeling nostalgic these days. With my second Inbound Marketing Summit wrapped up, and experiencing my first time at Blog World in Vegas in October, I’m entering November and that means it’s my Twitterversary again. Two years. Damn.

And it’s yet another blog for me. You may notice that now has a new home on, a new (and anticipated to be evolving) look, and compiled content from three of my blogging ventures over the past two years. Yes, three… Things don’t look perfect on this blog right now and that’s ok. Startup life has taught me that sometimes “done” is better than perfect, and you iterate your product from there. I’m happy to have my domain name and my content here, my Tweet button and Facebook like button installed so you can share it with your friends. There’s a way to subscribe to my content. I’ll add the extra stuff as I go along, but I’m no longer waiting around for myself to figure that stuff out before I blog. It’s a blog. Blogging comes first.

I haven’t done things perfectly in social media. Here’s what I’d do if I started today:

I’d start a blog on I’d buy my domain name from the beginning and buy whatever amount of money they charge these days for domain re-direction. I’d use the *simplest* theme possible. I would not. I REPEAT: I would not fuss and muss over the look and feel of my blog. I would just start blogging.

A mistake I made in blogging is wasting a lot of time on the look/feel of my blogs and getting frustrated with coding stuff I didn’t understand. I wasted time I could’ve spent writing screwing around with HTML and whatchamacallit and getting no where with it. I’d get the content right before I worried about headers, colors, widgets etc.

Social Health Nut is an example of this. I fussed around so much trying to figure out how I wanted that thing to look that by the time it looked the way I wanted it to, I realized I didn’t even know what I wanted to blog about. So I didn’t blog. #fail

You have to scale. What is priority when it comes to customizing your blog? What matters most? When you are JUST starting, this matters most:

After I got a good six months of blog-at-least-once-a-week content under my belt, THEN I would move my content over to There are far more theme options and customizations available with plugins from what I can see so far. Paying for Bluehost and having their customer service people there to bail me out when I jack up my .php stuff is well worth it. You can’t get any help like that when paying for rights to customize the CSS over there.

Another option? Just do a Posterous blog. It’s a very simple blogging platform, you can just email your posts to and they show up on your site. It’s a change to focus on the content without the distractions of all that other garbage.

Also, remember: You don’t have to do a WordPress blog.

It’s the content that matters, not the platform.

Steve Rubel uses Posterous.

Seth Godin, David Armano, Julia Roy and Greg Verdino all use TypePad.

Hipster Puppies uses Tumblr. Oh, wait…

You get my point. Just start blogging. Not sure what to write about? Talk about how you’re not sure what to write about because you’re just learning about social media. “I’m new to social media and I read this article today and this is what I thought of it.” That’s a legitimate blog post! And my God, this SMD community would find that sort of stuff refreshing coming from someone new to the space, I think. Just start blogging. Go. Go, go go.

And just start Tweeting. That’s what I did two years ago and I’d do it all again. I literally just started asking people how they got their PR jobs in Boston and Tweeted blog posts I read and commented on and found interesting. I still do that, only now I’m asking about advice when it comes to community management and Tweeting/commenting on blog posts related to that. Remember that “don’t talk to strangers” advice you got as a kid? That doesn’t apply to Twitter. Talk to strangers. Lots of them.

Getting on Twitter and blogging changed my life. It changed my career direction and introduced me to amazing friends, mentors and people. It’s been a wild two years. There are things I could have done better, yes. But there is nothing that I would do differently. 🙂

I’m An Introvert and Conferences Scare the Crap Out of Me

I have a confession to make that may seem odd to you: I’m an introvert.

“Heh, good luck being a community manager gig, kid,” is what some are going to think.

“May want to re-think that marketing career,” is what some are going to think.

And that’s fine. Trust me, I’ll find my way. I always do.

I never fancied myself an introvert until recently. First, I love one-on-one conversations. I love deep conversations. I’m an open book, not hesitant to freely and comfortably share what’s good and what’s not so good with me. I also like public speaking and Powerpoint presentations. I feel natural in leadership roles where I am standing in the front of a room and running a group discussion.

I would say I was a fast adopter of Twitter, a platform inherently different from Facebook and Myspace, which are based on networking with shared connections, vs. communicating with strangers. But I discount this as evidence of extrovertism, as the safety of a computer screen and my openness on Twitter possibly proves myself as an example of the opposite.

The oddest aspect of my supposed introvertism is that I’d describe myself as bubbly, spunky, sassy… I like making people laugh. It doesn’t take me long to feel comfortable acting that way around people.

There’s the middle space of human interaction that scares the shit out of me, between one-on-one conversations, hanging with people I know and public speaking enlies the thing I really suck at: mingling. 

I hate mingling! God, UGH! a;lwekra[0inag This is just one of those things I am terrible at.

Mingling makes me really nervous, and one would think that by 23 I would have this down, right? After college parties and weekends at bars I’d have this together, right? Well, no. I’m a chick. Usually chicks just show up at bars with their groups of girlfriends, get a vodka diet and people mingle their way over to you. 

It doesn’t work that way at conferences. You have to just hang out and meet people. I’m so bad at this. I get really nervous and self-conscious. I don’t know what to say, how to introduce myself, how to approach people… But it’s weird: if you want to specifically meet for coffee or lunch or just chat one-on-one somewhere away from the crowd – I’m down! 

I’m worried my crappy networking skills will hold me back. It’s not arrogance, just raw passion and drive that speaks when I say things like “I’m getting a hammer” and busting through the glass ceiling that still exists in PR, marketing, entrepreneurism and tech. I really want to do something with this life.

I’m a dreamer. I spend a ton of my free time – my beloved Janet time (which I thrive on, I’m serious, I’m an introvert) – thinking about stuff. I think about the intersections of the internet, law and social media, contemplating the tragic experiences of Tyler Clementi, the Catsouras family and others. I think a lot about how we can use social media to find missing children. I’m just a dreamer off in my own world, contemplating what’s next. Don’t interrupt me with a phone call, because if I’m able to find my damn phone and answer it, I’ll probably be awkward on the phone. (I had a well-meaning boss tell me that once.) 

So what do I do from here? First, I’m giving up on mingling. 

Seriously. I’m not forcing myself to do this anymore. Every time I try, I’m just awkward, nervous, and I feel worse about myself because of it. I’m worried I make a bad impression. Screw mingling. I’m networking my way.

I need to make more coffee dates. I need to plan ahead before I go to these conferences and see who’s going to be there and make a plan to meet up with people for lunch on those days. When I can’t do that and there is absolutely no way around “mingling” type situations, I need to do use my “buddy system” and bring a friend to mingle in the crowd with, to ease the pain if you will.

At the end of the day, of course I have to mingle. Sort of. I’m a community manager. Part of my job is to love the crap out of my brand in public. Fake it til you make it, so the saying goes. Fake that confidence until it becomes real I suppose. 

But really, truly, I think my networking story is going to be about quality vs. quantity. Maybe I won’t meet ten new people at Inbound Marketing Summit – I’ll have coffee with two. And that’s fine. I don’t need to make a collage of business cards on my bedroom wall of people who’s faces I can’t remember. I’m building that inner circle. Those people I IM in the middle of the day on Gchat just to Gchat. Those people I grab drinks with. Those LinkedIn contacts I’ll actually contact if I or someone I know is looking for a job or advice. But I don’t email them – I text them. The thing is, those two people know ten other people, one of whom may want to meet for coffee at the next minglefest.


Most of Twitter Is Un-ReTweetable Crap. Well, Okay, But…

Do you Retweet every Tweet that interests you? Do you @reply someone every time you have a reaction to something he or she Tweets?

Recent statistics from social media analytics firm Sysomos report that 71% of Tweets garner no reaction whatsoever. This means no Retweets and no @replies. Sysomos’ statistics are the findings after studying 1.2 billion over the course of two months. The report also reveals that of the 23% of Tweets that do produce an @reply, 85% of those only produce a single @reply.  Just 6% of Tweets get a Retweet.



Mashable jumped on the story, and one of the commenters summarized much of my reaction: No @reply or Retweet does not imply falling on deaf ears. Not all information warrents a share or a response.

I know that Sysomos is just crunching the numbers as they saw them, but I don’t think the research paints a picture of what is really going on on Twitter. A few things:

  • What about direct messages?

Sometimes, I’ll get into a conversation about making specific plans to meet up with someone on Twitter. I stop @replying that person and I send a direct message.

Sometimes, I just don’t feel that whatever I have to say is educational, informative, generic, or funny enough to share with the 1,800 or so people who follow me. Those Tweets people were sending didn’t go unnoticed or unreplied to, they were just private interactions via direct message.

  • @replies and Retweets aren’t the only means for impact

Did you know you can favorite Tweets? Not that many people do this, but I do know some people who use the “favoriting” option as a way to bookmark Tweets for later. They do this with Tweets of articles they want to read later, for example, and keep track of it using a tool like allows you to read Tweets in a newspaper-like format. Ever see those Tweets like “the Janet Aronica daily is out”? That’s someone publishing the links they found from their friend’s Tweets that day. Now, they may not have directly Retweeted that individual’s specific Tweet that hour or replied to that person’s Tweet right then.

My point is that just because it’s not in the form of an @reply or a Retweet, that doesn’t mean someone didn’t find a Tweet useful, funny, informative, etc. Also, how many times a day do you see a Tweet and just think “wow” but you are too busy at the time to actually type out a reaction to it? Again, that Tweet didn’t fall on deaf ears, it just didn’t garner a public reaction out of you.

  • There’s a lot of “pointless” babble out there

I wonder how much of the 1.2 billion Tweets were just garbage. There’s a lot of junk on Twitter. My company has an “OH” account that’s just Tweets of funny things we say at the office. We’re the only ones who follow it. It’s basically an inside joke to us. (I’m sorry, social media gods, it’s pointless crap but it’s funny to us. 😛 ) It’s not meant to be @replied or Retweeted, but the 50 or so Tweets we’ve sent from it could’ve been a part of that 1.2 billion Tweets. I recently saw someone Tweeting about how she had started an anonymous Twitter “diet” account so she could Tweet about everything she ate and how she felt about it to help herself keep on track.

It’s 2010 and we still have that itch we had in high school when all we wanted was to put up a really great away message on AIM. We want to rant, snark and cry. We want to be heard but we don’t want to be held accountable, and I actually think there are a lot of Twitter accounts out reflecting this, but they’re anonymous. It’s your Live Journal, served up 140 characters at a time. Is it pointless? Well, it’s not supposed to garner an @reply or a Retweet, they are just thoughts.

I suppose the argument can be made that in order for a Tweet to really have legs, in order for it to resonate it needs to be shared publicly. However, I think that if you’re a marketer and you’re looking at this stuff, don’t read it as “Twitter is a waste if almost 3/4 doesn’t produce a public reaction.” What I’m going to look at is, how do my company’s account’s followers want to interact with me and share my content other than @replies and Retweets? How are you going to apply this to your marketing?

“Eternal Champion of the Entrepreneur”

I'm re-posting this article from TechCrunch because one of my top goals in life is to chase my crazy daydreams. Because at one point, Twitter was somebody's crazy daydream and Michael Arrington said that was stupid. At one point, somebody thought selling shoes online wouldn't work. But somebody kept pursuing that and we have Zappos. And even if it wasn't a company, maybe it was another idea. Maybe somebody thought the OldSpice social media campaign was a bad idea or that no one would buy iPads.

In my humble opinion the world is not lacking raised eyebrows, devil's advocates and skeptics–although they are most certainly necessary. But I think we really need more of those innovative brainstormers with the thick skin to relentlessly pursue their ideas.

I often point to my first post on Twitter, the day it launched in 2006. Why? Mostly because of how wrong I was. Best line: “I imagine most users are not going to want to have all of their Twttr messages published on a public website.” I also love that original vowel-free logo.

The first couple of comments to that post are classic as well:

I do not understand the utility of adding the SMS messages to a public webpage or making messages from my network public. I would have to pass on that type of offering. The ability to make messages private should be added asap.


i do not want to be woken up at 4 a.m. because my friend got drunk and decided to text Twttr with “asdl im at barasdf sooo drunksalkfjs”…i find it interesting such an annoying feature is supposedly causing viral growth…i’m done developing social software if the key to success is to be intrusive


So is it pronounced twitter or twatter?

With the benefit of hindsight it’s clear that I was…a bit off on how Twitter would play out. As were most of the commenters, although commenters are often negative just to be negative. And the most wrong of all? The Odeo investors who elected to take their money back rather than port it over to Twitter.

My point here is that you never know which startups will make it and which won’t. As a blogger I say it like I see it, but I’m wrong a lot. It’s why I’m not a venture capitalist, where wrong decisions tend to have real consequences. And this is also a reason for us all to give startups a little breathing room when they’re finding their space in the world. Startups evolve. The world evolves (things have changed a lot since 2006).

That dumb startup that’s just a rehash of that other thing from before, with a twist, just may turn out to be something special. Perhaps world-changing special. It’s why I like The Man In The Arenaso much, and why I’m an eternal champion of the entrepreneur.

Good communication = simple and emotionless email

They say you can’t shit where you eat. It’s a common phrase used as advice of why you shouldn’t mix dating with your career. But as I skip and run and tweet and yes, sometimes stumble along in my twenties I’ve seen so many similarities between the two, but that’s really for another blog post. Or a memoir. A collection of essays. I’ll crowd-source it.

Here’s the thing: In perfect relationships, the same “they” who speak of shitting and eating (sitcom writers I suppose) also say that when you fight, you fight perfectly. I can live to say that this is possible in the workplace. You disagree perfectly. You communicate perfectly.

I love my team because of our email style and because of our communication over all.

If someone doesn’t like my idea, they say so. An email is signed:



If we are deciding to discuss at another time, that might be phrased:

Taking this offline.


If someone wants detail, they ask: 

Can you explain this further?


How so?



It’s direct. It’s emotionless. Emoticons are few and far between. Exclamation points are rare. 

I’m not on a roller coaster. I’m not going from winky faces and a Thanks!!! at the end to a sudden Regards when all of the sudden someone decides to get serious.

If someone disagrees with me, they say so. We hash it out, typing away with our headphones on sitting three feet away from each other never once looking up. It stays on topic. It’s always about the product, the newsletter copy or the blog post. I know it’s not about me as a person. What freedom! I can say what I think. They won’t take it personally, because it isn’t personal. It’s just an email.

Disagreement or consensus, either way the email exchange will probably end with a period. We look up and go to lunch. There, sitting face-to-face we can enjoy each other’s real smiles–not emoticons, our real excitement–not exclamation points, our real laughter–not our lol’s.

That’s because emotions and personalities are better felt, communicated and appreciated outside of a context with such brevity and oversimplification. 

But that’s the thing. It’s email. Why not keep it simple? Free yourself and your co-workers to actually get things done, get decisions made and do things efficiently without having to second guess the hidden meaning behind that signature or mood in that greeting.




I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by brevity, over-connectedness, emotionally starving for attention, dragging themselves through virtual communities at 3 am, surrounded by stale pizza and neglected dreams, looking for angry meaning, any meaning, same hat wearing hipsters burning for shared and skeptical approval from the holographic projected dynamo in the technology of the era, who weak connections and recession wounded and directionless, sat up, micro-conversing in the supernatural darkness of Wi-Fi-enabled cafes…” McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Tweet

How Many Calories Do You Burn on Twitter?

I saw a great piece on Mashable yesterday that begs the question: How many calories do you burn while using Twitter?  Want to find out? Check out a fun Twitter application called TweetCalories, which shows how many calories you burned over the last 24 hours by Tweeting.

Screen shot 2010-05-16 at 7.15.36 PM

I didn’t Tweet too much over the weekend, so I only scorched a measly 2.06 calories. I think you burn more calories sneezing. I might Google that. Furthermore, this isn’t actually meant to be a top-notch weight-loss tool, but rather, it’s a marketing trick for a fitness center in Brazil.  I happen to think this is a cute technique though, not to mention somewhat successful on the viral side of things.  I mean, they got me to blog about it, right?