Always On: The Community Management Evolution

By Digital Strategy — March 18, 2013 - 2:44 pm

Social Media Week is a worldwide event exploring the social, cultural, and economic impact of the growing social media field. Late this February, the conference came to New York and featured panels with a variety of professionals and thought-leaders from the field. The mcgarrybowen social media team had the opportunity to attend sessions and bring back learnings about tricks of the trade, industry trends, and data.

“The Evolution of the Modern Community Manager”

Not one message will define your brand.”

Kristin Maverick, Director, Earned Media at the Barbarian Group, hosted a discussion about the evolving role of community managers – looking back at how much the role has changed and where it’s heading in the future. The panel featured a variety of social media professionals from SoulCycle, Percolate, Newsweek and Buzzfeed who divulged details from the job of an intern into a role that requires unique expertise.

What They Said:

In the past, content was planned. As community managers, the panelists wrote calendars up to a month in advance for their brand’s social channels. But what started as a 9-6 job quickly turned into a 24/7 way of life.

As brands began to schedule social posts after hours to ‘remain in the conversation’ it became clear that you couldn’t plan conversation topics for the future. Instead a shift toward the ‘Calendar 2.0’ was needed. Today instead of fleshing out posts a month in advance, community mangers are building content skeletons that lay the foundation for brand messages, but are flexible enough to adapt to what is going on in the world around them.

Naturally, the conversation about real time social content transitioned the panelists to a discussion of the (now famous) Oreo Super Bowl tweet.  The success of the tweet stemmed awareness of the trending blackout social conversations and leveraged the audience’s interest in Super Bowl ads. Since Oreo was positioned to move quickly, the tweet exploded into a memorable moment for the brand – so much so that most people will remember the tweet over the multimillion dollar ad that aired during the game.

Another important takeaway from the Oreo example involves the level of risk that is almost always present with real time conversation. If a more serious issue than simple electrical problems had caused the blackout, the brand could have been bombarded by negative feedback in response to their tweet. But that was the risk the team was willing to take. Any post in social could potentially become a great success or the target for negative audience feedback, but as one panelist said, that’s the beauty of social, as “not one message will define your brand.” And with a strong, adaptable social foundation, your brand will be prepared for anything.

What We Heard:

One mishap won’t destroy a brand

  • Not one message will define your brand. Because social conversations change rapidly, mishaps are quickly forgotten.

You can’t ever really shut down

  • Yes, people do get paid to stare at Twitter all day, and it’s for a good reason. The success of social brands lies in their ability to be aware and adapt to what’s happening in real time.

A calendar can’t be set in stone

  • Community managers will always have to plan content to a certain degree. But instead of being tied to what’s on paper, the calendar needs to be adaptable. Internal and external social teams should be aware of current conversations and always be prepared to adapt.

Community managers know the community

  • Community managers are immersed in social conversations everyday. Having an ear to the conversation at all times during the day uncovers unique audience opportunities and insights.

Social should be everywhere

  • All 360 degrees of a brand should use incorporate (or at least be aware of) social to be successful. One panelist reminded the audience that anyone who is not willing to adapt their business toward social, will be replaced by someone who is.


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