Monthly Archive for October, 2010

Blogging Elsewhere

Here is a summary of links to my posts appearing on other blogs over the past couple of weeks.

GigaOM’s WebWorkerDaily*

MeeGo.com*

*Disclaimers:

  • GigaOM’s WebWorkerDaily: I am a paid blogger for the GigaOM network.
  • MeeGo: I am a full-time employee at Intel and contributing to MeeGo is part of my job.

Community Manager Tip: Automate Tasks

This is one of those things that can be hard to make the time for, and it is more technically challenging than many other community management tasks, but over the longer term it can really pay off in time savings. Think about those repetitive tasks that you do over and over – monthly community metrics come to mind as one of the most common examples. I started really looking at the time it was taking me to compile my monthly metrics, and I vowed to start automating as much of it as I can. Right now, I’m getting close to having most things at least partially automated.

Here are a few ways to automate your community tasks:

  • APIs: Many APIs are easier to use than you might think and can be a great way to suck data out of commonly used services like wikis. You can often format a URL and get a file without any programming required.
  • Database queries: Yes, I’m picky, but I’m almost never happy with the reporting tools in community software, and I always end up needing a few database queries. If you don’t have the technical skills, find a geek to help you write a few queries that can be set up to automatically run every month and email you the results.
  • Scripts: I have one gigantic shell script and a couple of smaller ones where I dump a bunch of commands that run other stats gathering programs, do database queries, download data into files (parsing if needed), etc. This requires a little programming knowledge, but it’s easier than it sounds.
  • Schedule: Many web hosts make it easy to schedule your scripts to run every hour, day, week, month or on some custom schedule with a nice, user-friendly interface into cron (which can be incomprehensible to some people in its native form).

Additional Reading

Part of a series of community manager tips blog posts.

Image by hobvias sudoneighm used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Community Manager Tip: Reuse Your Work

Community managers get asked the same questions over and over and over, so being able to quickly and easily reuse your work can save a lot of time and help maintain your sanity. The second time I’ve dug through my email archives to reuse a piece of a previous email to answer a repeat question, I usually realize that it’s time to formalize that answer and make it easy to reuse it.

Here are a few ways that you can reuse your work:

  • Have great documentation: use your online community or a blog to document frequently asked questions, processes and other useful information so that you can send a quick note and a link the next time you get the question.
  • Resources: pull together collections of links and other resources for people on a single page or section of your community to make it easy for people to find enough information to get started. The ‘Starting Point‘ page on this blog is an example of a quick and easy way to do this.
  • Use email templates (Gmail canned responses): these can be a quick way to organize information or content that gets sent by email, and I use them for collections of links, confidential information (invoices, etc.) and other things that are commonly sent via email multiple times.

Additional Reading

Part of a series of community manager tips blog posts.

Image by Flickr user andriux-uk used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.

Blogging Elsewhere

Here is a summary of links to my posts appearing on other blogs over the past couple of weeks.

GigaOM’s WebWorkerDaily*

*Disclaimers:

  • GigaOM’s WebWorkerDaily: I am a paid blogger for the GigaOM network.

Community Manager Tip: Always be Professional

The good community managers can maintain professional communications when faced with the most belligerent trolls on the internet without letting themselves be goaded into unprofessional behavior. As a community manager, you are often the face of your company to the outside world and everything you do in the community reflects on the organization that you represent. If your interactions are unprofessional, the company looks unprofessional, not just in front of current and potential customers, but also potentially the media and industry analysts. Staying professional at all times can be harder than it sounds, especially when someone catches you on a really bad day or when you are being bombarded by negative comments. The Earth Class Mail example in the image below provides an example of what can go wrong.

Here are a few tips to help you stay professional.

  • Don’t be afraid to wait and see if other community members chime in with a positive response. A post coming from the organization might sound defensive when the same information would be seen more positively coming from a neutral third party.
  • Don’t post angry. If you start to feel really angry, step back and stop interacting with the public until you cool off. Go for a walk or catch up on some work that can be done without talking to anyone else.
  • Take a really hard look at what you plan to say. Can it be misinterpreted? Would you want to read a quote of that post on the front page of the newspaper? Would you be embarrassed if your mom or your boss read it? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, throw it away and start over.

Additional Reading

Part of a series of community manager tips blog posts.