All posts in “community management”

5 Reasons You Should Use a Conversation Calendar

James Cooper is a strategist on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group. Follow @jamescooper

social media group conversation calendar

With so many social media accounts, all hungry for engaging content that offers value, you might be asking yourself, “How will I ever manage all of this?”

Have no fear. You can manage it. All you need is the right tool – a conversation calendar to help you take control.

What exactly is a  “conversation calendar”, you might be wondering?

In essence, it’s an editorial calendar specific to social media. Bloggers, publishers and companies use conversation calendars to control publication of content across their blogs and social media channels. Utilizing a conversation calendar is an extremely efficient way to control multi-channel postings over time.

In this post, I’m not going to focus on how to develop a conversation calendar (I think Debbie Williams does a great job of explaining this in her post Develop a Social Media Conversation Calendar). Rather, I’m going to tell you why you should use one.

1. Ensure consistency in the timing and voice of your communications

Using a conversation calendar lays out all of your pending posts in a single document. Being able to see all of your content in this consolidated format will help you maintain a consistent company voice in your communications across all social channels. It will also make it easier to ensure that you post at optimal times and avoid duplicating content on social properties.

2. Create accountability within your team

In a conversation calendar, you can assign actions to your content creators and community managers, creating accountability among them. At Social Media Group we set up a conversation calendar for our blog using a Google Spreadsheet which is shared among our team. The calendar is always updated at least a month in advance, giving everyone plenty of time to write our blog posts.

As an added advantage, being able to see what topics our colleagues are working on, we’re able to lend one another a helping hand and provide relevant insights into other reports and articles we may have seen that could add value to a post.

3. Be proactive and stay ahead of the content curve

Because so much changes so quickly in social media, you might find it difficult to fill out a conversation calendar several months in advance. But making your best effort to do so will help you think about and identify the important hurdles and milestones that you could face in the coming months. You can also plan to theme your content according to seasonal and special occasions, like Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Your conversation calendar should be an evolving document. Don’t hesitate to make adjustments to it as opportunities arise or when tactics are proving unsuccessful.

4. Identify opportunities to repurpose existing content

Further to my previous point about being proactive, a conversation calendar enables you to reach out across your organization to find existing and planned content that could be re-purposed for use on your social channels. It also helps you make plans to track down relevant content from outside of your company, such as posts from industry bloggers and communities, that could be curated and shared in your company’s networks.

5. Make tracking and reporting (and impressing your boss) easier

A conversation calendar is not only useful for planning for the future, it also plays an integral role when reviewing insights and analytics. For example, when you see spikes in activity on a social channel, you can easily refer back to your conversation calendar to see what content was the trigger. Since the calendar consolidates all of your posts from across your networks, it simplifies the task of doing a year in review, which will likely make your boss happy.

What are your thoughts? Do you use a conversation calendar? If not, do you plan to start using one?

Community Manager? What's that?


community management

Community management is a hot topic in social. In fact, there are 48,258 people who list Community Manager as a title or Community Management as a keyword on LinkedIn.

So it’s a hot space – I know this because I work with clients everyday supporting community management. I’ve got a bird’s eye view, so here goes my rant about what is a community manager.

Community managers have been around for years. Really, people have been managing digital communities in some form or another since the dawn of message boards and chat rooms. Not until the mass adoption of Facebook, Twitter and the like has it become a defined profession – and rightly so.

An active social media program in an organization disrupts traditional departments and silos. No one feels this more acutely than the community manager. Everybody (and their dog) has their own definition of what a community manager does because there are a number of demands and responsibilities that fall within the community management title.

According to the Community Management Round Table (in their State of Community Management 2011 report), the top attributes of a Community Manager are “The desire to be helpful, someone who is concise and credible, a sense of humor, curiosity, fearlessness, influential, persuasive, diplomatic, patient and mature. The expertise required for the role of community manager is strategic business acumen combined with exceptional communication and people skills.”

What do I think?  A community manager is a passionate strategic thinker who is a content creator and a moderator, a listener and informer. Essentially, it is someone who encourages conversation and engagement around a product, brand, issue or cause. I asked my Twitter and Facebook networks to tell me their definition of a community manager. As expected, quite varied:

  • @jeremywaite: A community manager should be in-house. No one else will be as passionate about your brand
  • @Sparkle_Media: in-house community management is a goal: a person/role to add to client team; interim & freelance CM’s can add bandwidth
  • @nav_een: CM should be patient, thick-skinned, creative, wordsmith. I agree with @sparkle_agency that CM should be in-house.
  • @heyneil: The catalyst for conversation in brand social spaces, the moderator of objectionable content and the person who escalates questions or issues to appropriate people within the organization. Also, the person who filters the brand team’s request for activity in the social spaces using best practices.

There’s so much juicy stuff in those comments from folks in my network. What’s your take? Is Community Manager a profession that’s here to stay or just a trendy job title for something else? When should (could) Community Management be outsourced?