Monday, 1 February 2016

#CMAD 2016: Reflections of a Newbie

In 2014 I found out about Community Manager Appreciation day as a result of a Tweet when following the conversation on the BETT Show hashtag. I've followed #CMAD and My Community Managers' (@MyCmgr) weekly #Cmgrhangout on a regular basis since then.

What I've learned from the experienced community managers who give up an hour of their time each week could end up being a game changer for me! So how on earth do you repay people who have helped you in this way?

In Sherrie Rohde's "Reflections on Community Manager Appreciation Day 2016" post she highlights that;

"Our business objective, if you will, in hosting these 24 hours of panels is to reach as many people as possible to educate them on the community industry"

With that being the business objective, if nothing else, I sure can help with that! I regularly discuss what I've learned from #Cmgrhangout with educators, sales people and any Scottish businesses that I speak to.  

Since 2011 I realised that the sales process in EdTech is changing, and have been working on reskilling and have explored Inbound Marketing, Social Selling and Community Management... and may be on the right track.
In Sales? Still making cold calls?
May want to check out social Biz Practices... change is on the way!
If anyone doubts that change is on the way I hope the fact that 3 out of 5 of the finalists for the "Best New Community Manager" CMAD award were in education, or that uber experienced #Cmgrs like Kelly Hungerford is advising education organisations. 

I think I joined 18 of the CMAD hangouts live and Tweeted comments out faster than I could process the advice. The rest of this post includes Tweets and some comments about the relevance and impact on the CMAD sessions I caught live. 

This is both a cathartic exercise to help reflect on all the great sessions and advice and in the hope that it helps to reach subscribers of my blog and educate them about the community industry.

NB Where there is more commentary with one session compared with others this will be due to one of the following:

1) Various states of consciousness over the course of the day
2) Despite trying to keep any distractions to a minimum so I could focus on the sessions, some did arise
3) Details regarding CMAD in my blog and Twitter stream is content that I believe would be of interest and relevance to educators and would encourage them to explore community in more detail.
3) Given where I am with my personal and professional development some sessions had more relevance to some of my current projects than others.   

Q) for Edu: Why is Community Building not valued as much as Entrepreneurship?
Lots of Entrepreneurship initiatives, but little in Edu for Community Management 
Rhiannan Howell (@rhi_jai) followed this comment up by highlighting that there was a big gap with digital skills, something that policy makers are being slow to realise and/or act upon.

This why I had no hesitation in pitching in and helping the Digital Citizenship Summit organisers... and why we made sure social media and Cmgr industry experts were invited to the UK event.

Being a big fan of organisational culture and noticing the things that companies like Google do differently I noted with interest Van Riper's (@VanRiper) current role

"Van’s current meta-community is the Googlers building a culture of mindfulness at every Google office in the world."

Since finding out about #CMAD and #Cmgrhangout I've found there are a few comments have made a big difference. If I had not first hand experience of some of the comments from this session I think they would have stuck with me. Instead I am delighted to be able to add my experiences to this session.
In Tribal Leadership author Dave Logan argues that one of the things that game changing organisations do differently is that they "Identify their core values and then align them with a noble cause."

I've worked to this strategy as much as possible and it's working well. I'll be continuing to work with purpose.

Alan then made a comment that had me jumping out of my seat with joy "Your Community Manager is going to have to have sales experience" then expanded on his answer to include other business disciplines.

While it's early days in my Community Management career, and all my experiences has been on a voluntary basis, I've sure found my experiences in sales to be a distinct advantage with the projects that I've worked on.

I don't do much with international communities at the moment so lurked during this session while catching up with the #CMAD Twitter stream. But I did pass the link onto people who are working with international communities and will revisit when assisting with #DigCitSummitSpain

As someone who has never held a formal Community Manager position but has had the scary experience of having to deal with a troll I found this session really interesting... and is probably as relevant for educators as it is for community management.

I also felt that a lot of the advice would be just as applicable to educators. While educators may or may not experience abuse online (See One in Five Teachers Abused Online by Parents and Pupils), they have plenty of behavioural issues to deal with.

A big take away from this session for me was the amount of stress and variety of serious issues that Community Mangers have to be prepared for (Trolling, counselling and dealing with legal threats... amongst others). I can't imagine how much more stressful this would be if your employer didn't place the right value or offer the right level of support to #Cmgrs.

Something that resonated with me was Carmen Angerer's suggestion that you need to acknowledge your own mental state.

 The panel went on to ask how Community Managers can share how they deal with the issues that are trickier to share with other community managers and organisations eg The frequency of and how organisations deal with and support community managers with trolling, suicide/serious counselling issues, legal threats etc).
Whether Cmgr, Edu or EdTech Sales... Culture Matters and Thank You means a lot!
I got an awful lot out of this session! Two reasons for this is because comments like "Community Management is the future of all management" which is something that I don't understand how and why others don't "get" this.

This session also helped me to figure out a challenge that I was having around trying to encourage members to adopt the same platform to plan and discuss a project and, based on the conversation in this panel, I wonder if the answer is "You don't"...More on this as I explore a few crazy ideas.

I don't think anyone expects every student who takes part in entrepreneurship to start their own business, but many will benefit from having a startup mindset. If community management and digital citizenship was part of the curriculum, which school, business, organisation or personal brand wouldn't benefit from the ability to have more and better engaged users/advocates/members/fans?    

A lot of other comments from this session helped me to see that I just might be heading in the right direction with some of my ideas.

I've found this to be the case in my own work experiences and with how constrained educators can be by policy makers and in the books that I read.

"I've often hired people who caught my attention by being creative at their jobs. One of the best hires I ever made was a waitress at a California Pizza kitchen restaurant... She turned out to be spectacular.

Another time, I was shopping for camping equipment at a North Face Store. The young man who served me was so knowledgeable about gear, and so passionate about camping that talking to him was a joy. It's rare to meet a salesperson who is simultaneously technically proficient, charming and entertaining... We placed him in customer service and he rose to the top of the department in a year.

Too often people see only what they expect to see. If you expect to see only a waitress, that's all you'll see. If you look at everyone as a possible addition to your staff, then suddenly the world of possibilities has exploded. Take off your blinders. Creative people are all around you. Don't stop looking just because you're off work or taking care of some errands. Some of the most creative people you'll find are hiding in plain sight.

Some of my best employees have come from companies where their talents were totally wasted." Nolan Bushnell, Finding the Next Steve Jobs.

As Community Management remains a relatively new role for a lot of organisations there may be more scope to define the role.  

Given my old tech and a preference for reading I was going to take a break when this session was on, BOY! Was I glad I didn't!

This session helped to answer a few challenges that I was having with some on boarding issues with a project I'm involved with... and got me thinking I should consider exploring podcasting and video (No mean feat for someone with a face for radio and a voice for silent movies!)

One of the reasons cited for this revival was that car manufacturers including iTunes in cars was having an impact in the podcasting revival. A direct result of this session is that I will be exploring the podcasting scene in the same way that I have researched Twitter EdChats. The comments below also helped in other areas.

One of my faviourite topics! I have the word stories in my blog and Twitter handle in the hope that it reminds me to tell stories and is a result of books like Made to Stick and Shane Snow's This will be the #1 Business Skill of the Next 5 Years.

The panel opened with the question "Do you think in words or pictures?" then went on to discuss the importance of infographics... Where I added "Explore creating images and infographics" as well as podcasting to my professional development list.

Alex Shebar from Yelp then discussed the importance of being succinct, something that I've struggled with but Twitters 140 characters have helped with Jason Fried's ideas from the Class he'd like to teach

Matt Hope then started talking about the importance of story telling within and across organisations and his advice reminded me of Clifford Nass' advice;

“Workplace similarities within a group are neither clear nor obvious. Therefore you may need to consciously work on team identity by identifying and then highlighting a shared quality. A good example that is that of sport.

In a college football stadium, people in the stands are bound by only a single characteristic: the team they root for. Nonetheless, students and alumni feel perfectly comfortable screaming, “we are number one” or “we won” even though they had nothing to do with the teams success: they didn’t play, they didn’t coach, they probably didn’t know the players personally, and their individual contributions to cheering were insignificant"

As I'd just come back from the UK Digital Citizenship Summit a Tweet about brands using stories to connect with audiences caught my eye from #CMAD sponsor Zoomph about how Amy Pope's career in Social Media started. 

Session 11: Building a Global Community
Based on previous and recent experiences this session was possibly the most relevant to me. One of the #Cmgrhangouts that had the biggest impact on me was Scaling Personal Connections as it changed the way I used social media.

Since watching this hangout in 2013 I've explored this advice in practice and this session was great to get a refresher and allowed me to reflect on my exploration of community.

The advice from this session in the Tweets below are consistent with the advice from startup and leadership experts like MIT's Bill Aulet and Tribal Leadership author Dave Logan.

This session ended by asking each panelists for three tips for people watching the hangout session.

"1) Be very clear on what your community represents and what the values are so they are clear across the board. 2) Create an environment where people can make it their own, to make it local... local culture and local needs, on what the community looks like there you can take your brand and voice and apply it in different ways 3) Don't try to do it all yourself, find people on a local level who can help to customise the brand and voice"  David Spinks

"1) Listen, 2) Be empathetic and 3) Be passionate and do your research" Elia Carreno

"1) Listen (Externally & internally), 2) Match business with community goals. 3) What are your metrics? Don't give up when you hear no" Kelly Hungerford

"1) Listen 2) Don't work in isolation 3) Don't forget offline as well as online. Look for ways to make real life connections" Gillian Hamilton Rogers

"1) Focus on the company KPIs and see what you can do to coincide 2) Segment your customers 3) Track analytics" Iieana Rossello

If there was 2016 CMAD presentation that was an argument for Digital Citizenship for students then this was it.

Early in the session Carlos Gil echo'd the #DigCitSummit speaker Timmy Sullivan by recommending that you should aim to be on page 1 of google if you search your name. Carlos also reiterated advice from events like Connected Educator Month and advice from their starter guide

The kind of questions asked in this session that would be equally relevant for students includes:
  • What first comes to mind when you hear the phrase personal branding?
  • Can a strong personal brand negatively affect a community manager’s ability to perform for a brand?
  • What advice would you give to individuals working to develop their community manager resume when it comes to personal branding?
  • Do you have a strategy or a secret sauce when it comes to personal branding?
  • What are the first steps someone should take to develop their personal brand?
Great questions for students as well as community managers but some of the very best advice you're likely to get is that the best tool a #Cmgr can have is his/her ears.
As finding a brand voice was such a useful exercise for me I found Lorrie Guerrieri's comment really helpful

Session 15: Events for Building Community
Having had little experience of organising events while assisting with the UK Digital Citizenship Summit this session was of interest to me but I was starting to fade a little and was multi-tasking. One useful piece of advice for a project I'm involved with was this;

I felt that there was a lot of synergy with this session and Building a Global Community as well as Scaling Personal Connections and have found the comments from the session below to be invaluable advice with some of the projects that I've worked on.

I was fighting off sleep during this session but found that the different approaches from the "risky" approaches like David De Wald's promoting any "I could do better than this" critics to moderators who would get a new appreciation of the task... and some would become really good moderators.

There was also some sound advice about setting the culture and building relationships with volunteer moderators and setting ground rules like volunteer moderators can't criticize other volunteers.

I came away from the session feeling that managing volunteers is a bit like leadership, there are various approaches and styles and you maybe need to try a few to see what works for the group, industry, organisations culture and the community manager's personality too.    

I joined this session after a bit of a break and the big take away here was that the internet isn't going to break if you're not on it... Your connections are not going to forget about you if you're not active/not as active as usual if/when you take a break.

I couldn't help getting the feeling that it's a challenge even for the most active and experienced Community Manager to be on all platforms... it sure doesn't half get you thinking about the future of community management and these "Community Architects" in the Future of Community Management session.

Session 22: Inside B2B Communities
Culture, Inbound Marketing, Social Selling, Product Market Fit, Co-Creating and Collaborating with users... all things that are needed for great products and all of which seemed to be present in some of these B2B communities.

Session 23: Staying Ahead of the Game: Managing a Community in Video Games
I struggled to stay awake with this one but thought that the Tweets about large groups and keeping them satisfied as well as looking after your uber fans was true of any project.

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