Tag Archives: reuse

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.