03 March 2010 ~ 17 Comments

A Day in the Life of a Social Media Community Manager

Bus passengers in CocomoRecently, I’ve been practising my French and involving myself in French discussions on Twitter about the definition of a Community Manager. It seems that the role is only just starting to be discovered in France. Unfortunately it’s still something employers are reserving for interns and work experience placements, but hopefully that will change soon.

Anyway, one of the questions that come 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 A day in the life of an Online Community Manager or Head of Community: 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 Communities & Social Media, but I’ve tried to keep these mentions to a minimum so the schedule mostly fits a Community Manager role.

7.45am: My Sleep Cycle app goes off, I press snooze once, realise I’m not going back to sleep so check out what my sleeping patterns were like last night and compare them to the previous ones. I then wonder why I’m being such a bit geek and get up for some coffee.

8.00am: I check my work emails, hoping there won’t have been some major catastrophe overnight, and fire off a couple of one-line responses to easy emails. I get about over a hundred emails in my personal account a day, and we get roughly the same in various customer service accounts we manage for sites in our portfolio, so clearing through these lists will remain my priority for the rest of the day.

8.30am: Shower, breakfast checking overnight comments on Twitter and Facebook and saving ones I want to read later, then leave for work. I’ll usually have a number of blog titles knowing around my head from the previous day or night, so I’ll take this opportunity to fire up WordPress for iPhone and jot them down as draft posts (my previous post, 7 common traits of cults that you need to implement to manage a successful online community, started life as a passing thought during a conversation with someone who had spent their childhood in the Jehovah’s Witnesses)

9.00am: Squeeze myself onto a Tube carriage, and wonder where the tipping point between being treated like a human being and treated like cattle was crossed.

9.30am: Let out the breath I’ve been holding since 9am, and hit my desk. Unless I have a breakfast meeting, I’ll fire up our moderation tools for all sites, check all is well and we haven’t been sued yet, and clear through the moderation queues that are assigned to me. Hope I don’t get landed with a spammer, as I’ll spend the next hour painstakingly cleaning up. Usually I don’t, so I’ll check the site analytics as well at this point, investigating any spike or other irregular activity.

10.00am: Do my customer service rounds on our forums, blogs, comments and social media outposts, looking for mentions of our brands, responding to comments, answering questions about how to use our community tools and reporting technical glitches to the Development team. Sometimes have a warm glow inside when someone takes the time to thank me or complement the Community team. I’ll spend a bit of time bashing the top of the email queues as well to stop them from running away from me.

11.00am: I often have 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 I’m ready for lunch and a paracetamol. If not…

12.00am: Answer more emails and catchup on our Twitter brand accounts and Facebook Fan pages. I’ve completely converted over to HootSuite, which I noticed Becky Midgley using one day and decided to investigate. I used to muck about with Splitweet and the Twitter and Facebook sites, but now I feel like a powerhouse with my sexy multiple columns and voyeuristic keyword tracking.

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

1.00pm: Lunch at my desk when I’m writing a blog post, around Soho with workmates to vent off steam during a particularly stressful day. Today was a lovely Steak Frites at Cote.

2.00pm: I usually reach out to our volunteer hosts round about now, making sure they are supported in their day-today activity in our communities. They are a massive help in keeping our forums a lively and enjoyable place to be, and are really my eyes and ears to what’s happening within the community, underneath the surface. Without them, my workload would be unmanageable 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: 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, I’ll be creating content within each community tool, whether uploading some photos I thought a specific community would be interested in, starting new discussions and taking part in existing ones in the forums, or writing editorial for the site intended to encourage engagement.

3.30pm: While I’ll be catching up with people I manage directly or indirectly all day, this is the time slot I save 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: More often than not, some kind of strategy meeting will be taking place, which I’ll attend either as an active participant, or just listening to what is going on in other departments so I can feed back any changes to our communities.

5.00pm: I’ll have another bash at keeping up to date with my RSS feeds, our brand social outposts and I might pre-publish a blog post if I’ve been working on one. Having spent all day completely immerse in my own Community universe, I really enjoy finding our what other community and social media managers have been up to. Being a community manager can be a lonely experience, and this is one of the things I started doing recently, which I’ve noticed can turn a bad day around very quickly. 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. I tie up as many lose ends as possible before heading off home, or my mind will be ticking over all evening. Although this usually happens anyway!

6.00pm: Hopefully leave the office, although sometimes I can be here till 7 or 8 depending on the length of my To-Do list, or whether I need to write up new policy or guidance for other departments.

9.00pm or 11.00pm: Depending on whether I am out or not, I’ll check the communities, email, and social networking outposts before going to bed. Very occasionally I’ll be woken up by a co-worker on the phone with an emergency, and this last check can often catch these issues before they develop and ensure me a good night’s sleep.

So there’s a rough overview. Part of what I love about Community Management is that you never really know what you’re going to be walking into each morning, and the above is very much an average. Throw in 50 unknowns, shake about in one of those Jamie Oliver Flavour Shakers and we’re closer to a true representation of a day in the life of an Online Community Manager.

To those who already work in Community Management, is your day similar? To those who don’t but are interested, does it sound like the sort of job your expected?

[Photo by BlaiseGV – ie. me!]

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  • http://miyouzik.com/ Mira

    Interesting post! :) Helped me understanding Community Management a bit more, and combined with Social Media Management, that's really the kind of day work I'd like to experience. A lot of work but it's exciting. Much more exciting than my web/copy editor tiring day work.. Want some change!! :)

  • http://www.carolime.com caro2point0

    hey, thanks for giving us a window in to how you spend your day — I'm always curious as to how others manage their workflow and tasks.

  • TiaFisher

    Fabulous description Blaise. (Enough to put off any interns, lol!) Perhaps we should use this in our job descriptions? You missed out the bit about malfunctioning tools and computer crashes though ….

  • http://blaisegv.com/ Blaise Grimes-Viort

    Thanks Mira. It can be exhausting but I get real pleasure from it, so all worth it.

  • http://blaisegv.com/ Blaise Grimes-Viort

    No problem, glad you found it useful. Do you have a similar workflow you could share?

  • http://blaisegv.com/ Blaise Grimes-Viort

    Thanks Tia :) I didn't want to put people off *too* much!

  • http://www.facebook.com/MojoJodon Mike Jodon

    Wait…there's a tool the lets you manage ALL the communities from 1 interface?…..awesome!

    Great post!

  • http://blaisegv.com/ Blaise Grimes-Viort

    It can be achieved with a custom build, but there are setups of popular social tools that can have a unified management, or at very least moderation, interface :)

  • http://fiskerstudio.com/ ralph fisker

    Interesting. How long have you been doing this for now?

  • http://blaisegv.com/ Blaise Grimes-Viort

    Hi Ralph, roughly 9 years from the start of my career as a Moderator.

  • Miriam

    Yes, yes and yes! How did you do that? You just described a typical day at work and we don’t even live in the same country. I guess that the experience is similar, no matter where you work.

    Although I am doing this job for three years now it is still hard to explain it to other people. Like you mentioned they still think I do nothing all day and get paid for having fun. Don’t get me wrong I really like my job, but it is still work.

  • http://blaisegv.com/ Blaise Grimes-Viort

    Thanks for commenting Miriam! I find writing these blog posts very helpful in claryfying to myself what it is we do so I can better explain it to other people.

  • http://www.facebook.com/avery.otto Avery Otto

    Simple conversations that create conversions so membership thrives, blogging, twittering, RSS feeds encouraging (aka managing) people are ingredients in my day. I stay away from the Frites and stay focused on multi-grains. What keeps me motivated is seeing the change, and being the change that our job represents. Thanks and appreciation for your awesome time management skills, temperance, and dedication.

  • http://twitter.com/Reeb1981 Becky Midgley

    hahaha – “I feel like a powerhouse with my sexy multiple columns” Genius! Happy to have helped.

    I love the way your day is so structured; I find I have to hop between all these things a bit more sporadically, which is great in one way as it keeps things moving and I don't usually end up missing contact from the communities, but it also means that sometimes I hit the end of the day and still feel the need to go back over things. It's a relentless cycle some days, but I soldier on ;)

    Keep up the good work dude

  • http://blaisegv.com/ Blaise Grimes-Viort

    Hi Becky!

    I did try to present something cohesive – in truth things might not run in this order, and it does very much depend on how the day goes. But in a previous lifetime when I was taught the ropes I found daily checklists very useful, and the above is what I aim for each morning and it helps give me focus.

    Thanks for the support, will try to ;)

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