Happy Holidays!

Posted by Patrick on December 15th, 2014 in

It’s that time of the year again. I hope that you have a wonderful holiday season and a great 2015.

2014 has been a great year for our profession, and I’m grateful for that. I am also thankful for all of the fantastic professionals I bump into on a regular basis because of my writing and speaking. It’s a special feeling when people find value in my work. I love to be able to help people in this space.

If you have sent me a kind word, left a thoughtful comment, shared my work or simply appreciated something I’ve shared, I’d like to thank you because your support motivates me. I have a deep respect for the work that we do as community professionals. I believe it is important work that shouldn’t be undervalued.

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There are a lot of job opportunities out there for community management professionals. While the big job sites receive plenty of listings, the best way to cut through to the most attractive opportunities is to subscribe to resources that are dedicated to this industry.

By all means, create job search email notifications on Indeed and LinkedIn for all relevant keywords and titles. Be sure to include keywords that will sort out online community manager jobs from offline ones (like managing an apartment complex). Jobs do slip through the cracks – I’ve seen it happen – and subscribing to the big sites helps you to not miss them. But the best bet for finding a great job is to clue in to a few key resources. Here are my favorites. Even if you have been in this space for a while, you might not have heard of all of them!

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Disruptive MultimediaI’ve been thinking a lot about music artists and community recently, thanks to Ryan Leslie and Nathan McCartney of Disruptive Multimedia. They are on a mission to convince music artists of the value of connecting directly with fans. When I listen to them, I really believe they are trying to get artists to understand the value of actively managing your community.

The sad fact is that most music artists are all too happy to hand their community over to a third party and lose the direct connection. When you send a fan to iTunes to buy an album, iTunes keeps 30% of the revenue – and 100% of the relationship. The revenue cut isn’t a big deal, but the relationship is everything.

And yet that is what most artists do when they try to sell music. They send people to iTunes. They transfer the relationship to Apple, who knows everything about the buyer. Meanwhile, the artist knows nothing. Too many artists are accepting of this arrangement. Data is power, and Apple holds the power. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

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When I published some examples of companies engaging in forums they didn’t own, I came into contact with David DiGiovanni of GroupSRC. They focus on helping companies engage on reddit. Dave had some great examples of organizations doing just that, and I thought it would make for an interesting guest post. Continue reading for insight from Dave.

I was excited to see Patrick writing about companies engaging in forums they don’t own. It inspired me to reach out to him on Twitter about companies doing the same on reddit.

Reddit is essentially the biggest forum on the web, and many companies have realized the value in monitoring reddit for mentions of their brand name. In the spirit of Patrick’s post about forums, I drummed up a few examples of companies engaging on reddit. Just like forums, reddit is a valuable place for companies to find communities related to their brand and learn more about their customers.

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Flickr has begun selling canvas prints of images uploaded to its photo sharing community. Some of the images that are available for purchase use the standard copyright license, meaning that Flickr has secured permission from the photographer, or rights holder, to sell the image as a print. These creators are getting a cut of the proceeds.

However, Flickr is also making available countless photos that have been released under a less restrictive copyright license, one of the Creative Commons (CC) licenses. In these cases, they aren’t asking the photographers for permission – or paying them anything. This has led to a bit of a controversy.

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The Community Roundtable has released their Community Manager Salary Survey 2014, which was sponsored by Jive. You can download it for free in exchange for your contact information.

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States, and this research is truly something that community managers should be thankful for.

I spent some time yesterday reviewing the full document, and I have to commend them on a really useful work. The salary data is immediately helpful to professionals and will help unpaid community managers get raises. That’ll raise the bottom, which will raise the average, which will raise all of us.

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TripAdvisor and YelpOnce in a while, a story will spread online of a business owner who has responded to a negative TripAdvisor or Yelp review in a pointed manner. The headlines for these stories include words and phrases like “epic,” “perfect” and “hilarious take down.”

I get it. It’s your livelihood. Maybe the reviewer was nasty or unreasonable. It was fun to give them a dose of their own medicine. To take them down a peg. But here’s a question: what’s the business value of doing so? Do you believe it nets you a profit or a loss?

Unfortunately, I would not be surprised if some restaurant and hotel owners and managers believe they will be the next “viral sensation” by responding rudely to an “unfair” Yelp or TripAdvisor review.

Good luck with that approach. You are winning the battle and losing the war.

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Credit: 10ch (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Credit: 10ch (CC BY-SA 2.0)

We don’t spend too much time thinking about the private messaging feature of the community software that we use. But as a tool for the community manager and staff, I would never want to be without it.

Most of a community manager’s best work happens in private, and much of that is private messages. That is where we manage the situation. Where we deal with troublemakers and push well-meaning members back on the right path. If you correct someone in public, in front of everyone, that’s a confrontation. They have to save face. They have to defend themselves. If you do it in private, it’s just a conversation between you and them.

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Posted by Patrick on November 10th, 2014 in Interacting with Members, Managing Staff

You should tell your members and your staff. You should tell them what you expect of them. You should tell them what to expect of you. You should tell them what challenges you are facing and share the details. You should ask the same of them.

Over-communicate. Don’t assume. Over-communication is one of the secrets to building trust. When you don’t, that leads to surprise (the bad kind). Bad surprises destroy trust.

That’s why I over-communicate. Under-communication is miscommunication.

When you are making a big change, like changing a 10 year old design, you need to communicate that change like crazy. You can’t just flip a switch. You can’t just say, a week before, “we’re doing this.” You have to really talk through it.

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Mind the GapHere’s one way to think about what community means for many businesses.

Community is what fills the gap between sales and service. Too many companies still only talk to customers when they are selling or when something goes wrong. Sales and service. But between those two things is this huge gap, which we can refer to as everything else.

If you aren’t in this gap, you are vulnerable. It’s risky because there can always be another company that is willing to come in and treat your customers better than you do. That’s why community – real community work, online community building and management, not just general social media marketing and use – is so important to business right now and will only continue to grow in importance moving forward.