Author Archive: Rachel Luxemburg

Happy Community Manager Appreciation Day!

Birds of a Feather Community managers put in long hours making sure their communities are happy and thriving. They’re the face of the company to hundreds or even thousands of customers, and are sometimes the only company employee any customer will know by name.

Within their companies, they are the voice of the customer, reporting back on issues, concerns, successes, and requests. And yet all too often, they are the company’s unsung heroes.

Community Manager Appreciation Day is one small way to help balance those scales out. Today is a day to recognize these heroes and let them know they’re valued.

So here’s to community managers everywhere! Each in your way works to make the world a happier and more harmonious place. Thank you for all that you do.

New Year, New Community Events

community There’s two community events coming up in the Bay Area, both in their fourth year, and both of which I’m pleased that Adobe is participating in.

The first is Community Manager Appreciation Day – January 28th. #CMAD, as it’s known on Twitter, is dedicated to highlighting the efforts of community managers – often the unsung heroes of a company.

If you’re a community manager and will be in San Francisco on the 28th, Adobe, in cooperation with Altimeter, Autodesk, Yammer, Lithium, and The Community Roundtable, will be hosting a Happy Hour at District Wine Bar. Please RSVP here and we hope to see you there!

The other event is the Community Leadership Summit West, an all-day unconference on February 2nd. Community managers and unconferences are a great combination, and each year I come away impressed with the depth of discussion and the great insights displayed. Whether you are a professional community manager, or an active volunteer, CLSWest is worth your time. You’ll meet some great people and learn a lot. You can sign up here.

I’ll be at both events and hope to see you there!

Does Your Content Pass The “So What” Test?

This is who you're trying to reach. Will you pass her 'So What' test?

This is who you want to reach. Will you?

Whether you love information overload or you hate it, one thing is certain: it’s here to stay.

Which means that despite all of our shiny new communications channels, it’s not getting any easier to connect with the people you’re trying to reach. So what do you do about it?

It’s simple: focus on quality.

We’re all so busy filling up our social media channels with a regular stream of content that we often don’t spend enough time thinking about whether what we’re sharing is actually interesting, useful, or just plain fun.

Here’s the catch: it’s not easy, especially if you’ve read all the social media expert advice about ensuring you’re Tweeting several times a day every day, and angling your posts for the Eastern time zone, for example, to get maximum reach. If you sign up for a strict schedule, filling up your content calendar starts to make Sisyphus’s job look easy. We struggle with this all the time on our Adobe channels.

The next time you’re reviewing your content calendar, use the “So What?” test. Ask yourself, “Is this something my fans / friends / followers are truly going to care about or will they shrug and say ‘So what?'”

If the answer is yes, congratulations! You’re on the right track. For extra bonus points, don’t hit the Publish button just yet. Find the why-this-matters-now link or image. Look for the proof that will make people say, “wow!” or “that’s cool,” that makes them think “I want to learn more”. When you know without a doubt that you are providing ‘a-ha’ moments, you’ve passed the “So What?” test and are finding the right things to share.

Getting Graphic: Best Practices for Images in Social Media

Photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/vfsdigitaldesign/">VFS Digital Design</a>

Photo credit: VFS Digital Design

Sharing pictures has been a part of social media since its inception, but in the past year there’s been a distinct shift: visual images are a central part of the message now. Whether it’s the latest meme, an inspiring quote, a “how to” photo montage, or an infographic, visual images are taking center stage in how we communicate with each other online.

Not only are Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ all shifting their formats to make images more central to the user’s experience, but the two fastest growing social media networks – Pinterest and Instagram – both put pictures, not text, front and center. The message is clear: If you’re trying to get content out and you’re not thinking about the visual aspect, you’re leaving out a critical component.

So how do you adapt? Ekaterina Walter’s recent piece in Fast Company talks about how some are responding. Here’s my top tips on how to get more visual:

It’s Not An Afterthought – Think about how you’re going to express yourself visually as an integral part of your message. Make sure the image you’re using is directly relevant to the central point you’re trying to get across.

Don’t Forget Humor – When appropriate, taking the funny approach can score big points. Use http://memegenerator.net/ for quick and easy access to a range of current meme themes.

Make it Easy – Make it easy for people to pin or otherwise share your images. Don’t upload a huge image and then rely on the code or a 3rd party tool to resize it for you – take the extra minute or two to right-size your graphic before uploading it.

Get Right With Rights – Not everyone is a gifted visual creator and/or has access to a graphics team to create images for you. Luckily, there’s a lot of great visual content on the web that you can use. Even if you’re budget challenged, there’s good, free content options out there. Flickr, for example, allows you to only search for images that have Creative Commons licenses (http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/). However, make sure that you’re only using content that’s appropriately licensed, and always give credit where credit is due when you use other people’s images.

Finally, as with all good things, remember that quality beats quantity. A crappy graphic thrown in to increase your Facebook Edgerank is worse than no graphic at all, because it won’t generate the positive responses and interactions you’re looking for.

It’s never been more true that a picture is worth a thousand words. So go ahead, get visual! It’s not just good for your content, it’s also more fun.

Community Leadership Summit 2012

After my third trip to the Community Leadership Summit, it’s quite clear that the world of community management is maturing.

A few years ago, CLS struggled to get 100 people in the room, especially the second day of the event. This year, there were well over 200 people at CLS, and Day 2 was just as busy as Day 1. Attendance is growing more international; not just the US and Europe were well represented, but community managers from China and India (and probably more) were also on-site. On a more prosaic note, sponsorship is up, too. Adobe is a proud sponsor of CLS.

The most important thing about CLS, and what keeps me coming back every year, is the quality of the content and the fantastic conversations that take place there. The CLS wiki has crowdsourced notes from many of the sessions, but it’s a pale shadow of the value you get from actually being there.

Pitching Sessions at CLS 2012

Pitching Sessions at CLS 2012

Each year, new community managers come in, but there’s also a growing base of practitioners who’ve been in the field for some time now and are taking a more in-depth approach to the discipline. That cross-pollination of ideas is great for everyone.

This year I facilitated a session on tools for community management on Saturday as well as gave a plenary talk on Sunday. The Sunday talk was something I haven’t done before – I talked about crisis communities and used the recent events at the Horace Mann School (my alma mater) as an example of community formation in a crisis. It was hard to talk about something so personal at a professional event but judging from the feedback I got, it went over well.

Each year, I come home more convinced that it doesn’t matter if you’re the manager of an open source community or a corporate one, a huge community or a tiny one; community programs and community managers have far more things in common that not.

We all struggle with issues around tooling and support, and managing difficult personalities. We’re all trying to find more and better metrics for judging the success and health of our communities. We all deal with burnout and stress. And we’re all looking for ways to bring in new community members while trying to keep longtime contributors active and engaged.

If we all keep talking to each other, we can leverage all that intelligence and passion we have for our work to make all of our lives easier and our communities stronger.

TL; DR: the Community Leadership Summit is a great event, and if you’re a community manager, you should put it onto your calendar for next year.

CLS 2012 Attendees

CLS 2012 Attendees

Versions of this post are cross-posted here and on my personal blog.