I've been an intern at Verge Pipe Media for four months now, and have been the Community Manager for the past two. I got a bit of a head start in the role due to my predecessor showing me the ropes a few weeks before my number was called. We'd take a day or two a week and she would go over what she found her best practices to be, though stressed that I may not find them to work for me and that I will eventually find my own way.
That may seem like vague guidance, but it's probably more training than most people get. If you think about a brand as a Ferrari, many times the higher-ups simply hand the keys over and let you drive without telling you where to go or how to drive stick. Allow me to step in and be your GPS/driving instructor, as I'm about to walk you through my experience of being a community manager.As I said, I was much more prepared for my role than most are. I liken it to an athlete who has played under a great coach to one who has the raw talent but little guidance. You may have all the talent in the digital world, but if that talent hasn't been cultivated yet and you don't know when and how to really use it, it may take a while to realize your potential. So allow me to put on my mentoring hat for the next few minutes and walk you through my first few months as a community manager.
Your first week will be a challenge. I'm not going to sugarcoat this at all. There are so many moving parts and responsibilities in many different areas, you need to develop a system. This takes time. You have to find out what works best for you. Do you want to spend say, your first hour publishing the blog and scheduling social media posts for the next week? The middle of the day following and engaging in twitter conversations? The rest of your day writing and editing blog posts?
There is no right answer to how you want to schedule your day, but if you don't have a system I promise you won't last long without pulling your hair out. I only listed a few things I do each day, but that is not at all a conclusive list. You'll want to have some sort of system in place from the get-go because it can get overwhelming fast. It's tough since it will take time to figure out what works best for you. Start with a rough schedule for that first week or two and work from there.
Getting into a rhythm
In the next 3-4 weeks after that first one you will start to see things getting a little easier as you find out what works for you and what doesn't. I wish I could be more specific but it really depends on the person. The one thing I can tell you is that whatever routine you have, you have to build in some empty space because almost every day you'll have to complete a task you didn't plan for. The important thing is to have a plan in place, but be ready for some surprises.
As legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden said, "An individual grounded in the fundamentals has, I believe, a much higher likelihood of success when sudden change is forced upon him.” That's the job and the industry for you. And if nothing does fill this open spot on your schedule, spend some more time engaging on Twitter or reading up on the industry. It only stands to grow your brand if you continue learning.
If you want an idea of how I plan a "typical" day for an example: (This is by no means a strict guide to follow, just what I have found my best practices to be.)
I like to open up all of our social media accounts first thing in the morning and see what engagement we've had and check on our analytics to see what's working. From there, I'll edit and publish the content that is set to go out for the day and schedule the social media posts that go along with it. Then I'll take about an hour and do some writing for my blog post that week while monitoring the social accounts in other tabs. The next hour I'll hop on Twitter and check out relevant news and posts in the industry, joining the discussion where I see a fit for our brand. I'll spend the rest of my time either working on our campaign, helping out the rest of the team where needed, or continuing to engage on social media.
That's just what works for me, but I know the community manager here before me had a different routine that better suited her. I wish I could be more specific and stop saying "it depends" but it really does, so keep an open mind.
So you've been doing it for 6 weeks or 2 months or however long now and you've got everything down pat. You've learned what routine works best for you and how to juggle all those responsibilities. You've got your brand running on all cylinders: you're pushing out content that meets your editorial calendar but has also been tweaked to reflect your analytics, you've gained followers on Twitter by creating dialogue and increased visitors to your website. You're the star point guard, the one who's been calling the plays, tweaked your strategy to reflect what's worked and what hasn't, and you're winning. That makes you irreplaceable to your team.
The important thing is: don't get complacent. If you've gained 100 followers on Twitter and increased traffic to your site by 8%, try and beat it over the next quarter. You never want to stop growing your brand. After all, that's your main responsibility, so don't get complacent.
“The principle is competing against yourself. It’s about self-improvement, about being better than you were the day before.”– Steve Young, 3x Super Bowl Champion
For more self-improvement and being a better you, check out VPM Academy below. You'll learn more about how to be a successful social media or online community manager in order to strengthen your brand image as a whole.