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A Day in the Life of an Online Community Manager

To celebrate the second annual Community Manager Appreciation Day, we asked eModeration, who use Conversocial to manage the social platforms of many big clients, to contribute a post on the role of a Community Manager.

blaise

A day in the life of an Online Community Manager 
by Blaise Grimes-Viort, Head of Community Management and Engagement at eModeration

Well, one of the questions that comes up a lot is “What is a Social Media Community Manager? And just what it is that you do all day??” People realise that it can’t be as simple as sharing virtual cake and tea and chitchatting all day, but struggle to see what else we could be doing with ourselves. So here’s what you can expect to deal with in A day in the life of an Online Community Manager, dispelling the myth we sit around surfing the web and ignoring your issues. Some of the tasks described fit within my role as Head of Community Management and Engagement ateModeration, or my former role as Head of Communities and Social Media at NatMags, but I've tried to keep it generic where I can. Of course, all CM roles are different, but it's a start!

8.00am: Check your work emails, hoping there won’t have been some major catastrophe overnight, and fire off a couple of one-line responses to easy emails. A CM can expect about over a hundred emails a day in their personal account, and probably the same in various customer service accounts you many manage, so clearing through these lists will remain your priority for the rest of the day.

8.30am: Shower, and breakfast. While eating your toast you'll be checking overnight comments on Twitter and Facebook and saving the ones you want to read later. Leave for work. (Unless you're a home worker of course. In which case you'll need to walk the dog or hang up washing.) Most CMs will probably write blogs too: I’ll usually have a number of blog titles you knowing around my head from the previous day or night, so if you're travelling into the office, take this opportunity to fire up WordPress for iPhone and jot them down as draft posts.

9.30am: Officially start work. You might have a breakfast meeting, but otherwise, you'll need to fire up moderation tools for all sites, check all is well and there have been no emergency escalations overnight, or - horrors - legal issues. Assuming you haven’t been sued yet, clear through the moderation queues that have been escalated by your teams. Pray you don’t get landed with a spammer and have to spend the next hour painstakingly cleaning up. Check the site analytics as well at this point, investigating any spike or other irregular activity.

10.00am: Do your customer service rounds on forums, blogs, comments and social media outposts, looking for mentions of your brands, responding to comments, answering questions about how to use the community tools and reporting technical glitches to the Development team. Sometimes you're lucky enough to get the warm glow, when someone takes the time to thank you or complement the Community team. Spend a bit of time bashing the top of the email queues to keep them from overflowing into chaos.

11.00am: Probably a morning meeting around about this time. This could be anything from discussing requirements with a potential supplier, training teams or individuals on what Social Media is and how to incorporate it into their work-flow or using our community tools or even presenting a web tool that could help them become more efficient. Sometimes this is followed by an internal meeting by which point you'd be ready for lunch and a paracetamol. If not…

12.00pm: Answer more emails and catch up on the Twitter brand accounts and Facebook Fan pages. (A quick plug here: Using Conversocial to moderate and manage them has made this process a lot more efficient and teams can now keep up easily with whatever SLA (Service Level Agreement) we are observing - though we are still of course at the mercy of Facebook's API whimsy.)

12.30pm: Zip through Google Reader, catch up on any new community related blog posts and industry news, saving links for later reading.

1.00pm: Lunch at your desk - you didn't expect to get out did you? - writing a blog post or more email catch-up.

2.00pm: Spend some time reaching out to your teams of moderators or hosts, whether voluntary or employed. It's really important to make sure they are supported in their day-today activities and feel valued, because they are a massive help in keeping your communities a lively and enjoyable place to be, and are the eyes and ears to what’s happening within the community, underneath the surface. Without them, your workload would be much worse and it would be much harder to manage the small spats that sometimes occur as their insight is invaluable in deciphering what is really going on behind the scenes.

2.30pm: Content time. This is the part of the day that can be a really positive experience or a horrendous one, depending on the mood of the communities, the technical stability of the platforms or the presence of trolls. For the next hour or so, you'll be creating content within each community tool, uploading photos, starting new discussions and taking part in existing ones in the forums, or writing editorial for the site intended to encourage engagement.

3.30pm: Whilst you'll be catching up with people that you manage directly or indirectly all day, do save a time slot to proactively sit down with them and discuss any initiative they are managing at the moment, challenges they are facing and how to overcome them, and just generally find out how they are getting on with their own day-to-day work.

4.00pm: Strategy meetings ... you may be an active participant, or just listening to what is going on in other departments so you can feed back any changes to our communities.

5.00pm: Take another look at your RSS feeds, your brand social outposts and maybe pre-publish a blog post. Spend some time on Twitter catching up with social media contacts on both sides of the pond and forwarding and reading articles of interest. There’s nothing like talking with people who understand what you do and the pressures you’re under to put your difficulties in perspective.

5.30pm: Final run of moderation and customer service, making sure there isn’t a storm brewing between community members

6.00pm: Hopefully leave the office - but be prepared to be there till 7 or 8 depending on the length of your To-Do list, or whether you need to write up new policy or guidance for other departments.

Rest of the evening: If your team straddles the Atlantic (as mine does for eModeration), you may need to fit in some West Coast Skype meetings now. It's a good idea to have a last check the communities, email, and social networking outposts before going to bed: but remember - you're on call for any emergency escalations, because of course, your communities don't sleep. Ever.
On a professional forum I belong to, someone recently asked if you need to be really interested in and enthusiastic about your community/ies to make a good manager. The overwhelming consensus was yes. You can get by for a while just by being very efficient - but you need commitment and passion to be happy with a schedule like this in the long term.

Conversocial is a Social Media Management System that helps businesses manage the increasing volume of two-way communication going through social platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Through in-depth engagement analytics and comprehensive comment management tools, Conversocial enables effective marketing distribution, moderation and customer support.

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