Posted by: Andrew Hemingway | August 3, 2011

Republicans Kept their word

Posted by: Andrew Hemingway | August 3, 2011

We Need more Freshmen Republicans

Posted by: Andrew Hemingway | December 21, 2010

What can this dog teach you about managing your community?

Did you learn anything? Watch it again if you have to. Look at the way the dog is always a step ahead always cutting off the sheep. Ultimately the sheep makes the decision, but the Dog is there to encourage the right decision…Sound familiar?

Posted by: Andrew Hemingway | December 19, 2010

3 Things Every Community Manager should do on Sunday

Every Community manager should do 3 very important things on Sunday. Sundays are days that for some communities see less activity, this is not true for all I know. So on Sunday I always recommend that CMs do some different things.

  1. Step away– But what if the world crashes down and my community explodes into a million pieces…Your community will be okay. Really! You need to step back a little, take some time to get outside change with family, watch some football or just do something else. I only check email two times on Sundays. This helps me to completely step away, otherwise I am checking my phone non stop for emails, just waiting for the whole thing to crash. You need time to get away for a few minutes. So on Sunday- Step Away!
  2. Breathe Deep– All of us are creative, this is a mark of a good manager. We need to engage in activities that encourage, not tax that creative energy. Everyday we expend an immense amount of creative energy on our communities. We need to make sure to recharge this energy, or else we are constantly running on empty. Just relaxing does not restore my Creative energy, I need to engage in an activity, but that activity needs to be energizing. I like to visit art exhibits, or museums. This is incredibly relaxing for me, but it also provides real inspiration to my creative energy. What activity can you undertake that will have this same affect on you? My friend an excellent manager enjoys Yoga. SHe throws herself into her Yoga and that stimulates her creative juices. You need to find an activity that does this for you. It is critical for your success. So on Sunday…Breathe Deep and energize your creativity.
  3. Think Big– I know that for many of you there is just no escaping your community. Even if you are at the grocery store, something will make you think about your community. This is not a bad thing at all, rather it is a sign of your passion for your work, and I love it. But in Sunday I want to encourage you to think Big. So when I think about my community on Sunday it will start with a specific task, or member, but on Sundays I stop and consider the big picture. I really use my down time to regain my scope, so much of our work is in the trenches that we lose sight of the big picture the end game, but on Sunday I think Big

I like Sundays because they give me the opportunity to Step Away, Breathe Deep, and Think Big.

Posted by: Andrew Hemingway | December 17, 2010

Managing your Community..or is it Managing you?

Managing an online community is not easy. It is a very difficult position that requires a very unique and versatile set of skills. I will not go into all the skills necessary to be an effective online community manager, but suffice it to say these skills are very rare. All of these skills go into managing a community, which leads me to this post. Are you managing your community, or is it managing you?

One of the things that I and others harp on is how important it is to listen to your community. This is very important and I do not want that to get lost in this post. Listening is CRITICAL  to success.

In one community I am familiar with, the manager called me to express how stressed and fried he is. He is maxed out, tired, never any downtime, all these needy people. He is not meeting his goals for growth because he is putting out fires everyday, his boss is not happy because there are no tangible results and he is ready to quit. What is the problem you might ask? He listens to his community, he tracks and measures, and does what he is supposed to, but something is missing. As I dug deeper into this community I began to see it. The community was managing him.

This blog is a based upon learning lessons from shepherding and applying them to Community Management. Can you imagine a shepherd that cared for his flock of sheep would allow the sheep to lead him? NO! The community manager I was speaking to, was being led by his sheep instead of him being the shepherd and leading his flock. Sheep have this tendency and will try to assert authority in a flock. If this is not dealt with there will be serious problems. A sheep gone astray is dangerous not just for that one sheep, but given sheep’s flocking nature it could cause others to follow this dangerous path as well.

Your community is very similar to this flock of sheep. If the shepherd allows sheep to lead the way, they will not end up where the shepherd wants them to. The shepherd must lead his flock. But a Shepherd always leads from the rear of the flock. The sheep think they are leading, but really the shepherd with a strong and steady touch is guiding them down the path he wants them on. This is the job of the community manager, he must lead the flock on his path, allow them liberty to feel as though they are leading, but rein them in when they depart from the chosen path. A community needs a leader, and if you do not take that role, someone will. And I can promise you that whoever does will not have the same goals, objectives, or vision  you have.

Is your community managing you or are you managing your community? You know the answer. If your are being managed you need to act swiftly but very cautiously. You would be wise to seek outside counsel  because you are so close to the situation, and so engrossed in the day to day. Seek an outsider to take a clean fresh look and then use your knowledge and experience and craft a plan to manage your community to success.

Posted by: Andrew Hemingway | November 26, 2010

Jive CEO Tony Zingale on Community ROI

In a recent discussion on I mentioned ROI, and the need for Community Managers to prove ROI to their Executive team. In this discussion someone said that it may still be early for many who have not started thinking about ROI. I saw a link to this article on the Jive site and Tony the CEO of Jive Software made a very interesting observation in regards to ROI. (watch 1:19-1:44 if nothing else)  See it here.

Tony reports that members of the Nike Community are buying 40% more from Nike than others not related to the community. This is obviously for a number of reason none more practical than the fact that if an individual likes Nike so much they will join the community they are probably more inclined than most to purchase again. That aside it is an interesting piece of information that should be used to factor into the ROI discussion.

Community Managers need to be having the ROI discussion now. I am convinced that they should not be afraid of it, but rather embrace the discussion because a community built right, and managed right will yield a phenomenal ROI.

Posted by: Andrew Hemingway | November 22, 2010

What to ask before starting an Online Community

Sheep are multi-purpose animals, raised for their meat, milk, wool, hides, and skins. While they have been used to control unwanted vegetation for centuries, grazing as a fee-based service is a relatively new opportunity for sheep producers. Sheep are also a popular research model and some producers have developed businesses supplying animals or other products (e.g. blood) to bio-science.

Thus, one of the first and most important decisions a shepherd must make is to decide which aspect(s) of sheep production to focus on. While most sheep breeds are multi-purpose, most are best suited to either meat, milk, or wool production — seldom all three. Production practices tend to vary according to the purpose of the flock.

The number one reason why online Communities fail is because there is no clear definitive reason who the community was built for, or who will benefit from it. I have visited communities online where they have a tab for Moms, and a tab for Childrens Games, and a tab for Advice on Sex. Does that make sense to you? When somebody visits your community they should not be left wondering who this community is for, or whether or not they are the right fit for this community. I can tell you 100% of the time the user who is unsure will leave.

Before you start a community clearly identify your target market and tailor make the community for them. This sounds easy, but I know it is not. With a large soft goods provider I was working with this was extremely difficult as their products spanned several genres of communities. But after some careful planning, and some very difficult strategy sessions it became obvious just who this community was for. And it has been nothing short of an amazing success.

Here are a few questions to ask before starting a community. If you do not have rock solid answers on these, I would advise you wait on launching a community.

  • Who is the community for?
  • Does this target use online communities?
  • What do they want out of an online community?
  • Can you provide what they want?
  • Will the community help them or is this just about you and your brand?

Once you have settled your target market the next steps are very simple. Find those in your market and demonstrate to them the value of your community. Knowing who you are going after will determine how you go after them, and retain them.

Bring value to your community and members will never leave you.

Posted by: Andrew Hemingway | November 18, 2010

Help for the CIO Managing Online Community Managers

I know… the title of this piece will make many of my readers start with skepticism. But hang on…I trust you will find my thoughts on this helpful.

In many corporate settings today there is the growing need for multiple online community mangers. I realize that less then 20% of Fortune 500 companies have even 1 at this point but the early adopters is where things are happening. I am also seeing a very real change in the attitude of the C level towards online communities. I think this is due in part to great community managers doing an amazing job, but also the younger a C level exec is, the more they believe in social media to begin with. This is a trend that will not go away.

More than likely the CIO will be charged with the ultimate responsibility of the Community as a whole. This would encompass each and every sub community within the Brand or multiple brands. Down from that you will have many different structures but ultimately you will get to the position of Community manager, Twitter manager, Social media manager or something like this. All the titles really mean is that manage a sub community or neighborhood in the bigger brand community.

In this post I want to address a growing problem for CIOs, and Community mangers. There seems to be a great gulf between the two positions in the idea of what a community manger does and what their objective should be. The CIO is pressured by the CEO and the Board to deliver quantitative data on every aspect of his position proving a healthy ROI on every dollar spent. The Community manager wants to grow a strong healthy community regardless of the size.  Thus, we have a conflict.

The conflict is very very common. So how do you manage the managers to yield the results you want and grow a large community. The answer is simple, but not easy.

The CIO must understand the right numbers. Looking at just the number of followers or friends will not give the CIO an accurate picture of the community, or allow them to accurately evaluate the performance of the manager.

Here are some numbers that will proved the CIO with a better picture:
1. Number of Active members in last 7 days
2. Number of interactions with community manager
3. Number of members mentioning brand outside of community
4. Number of interactions between members

*There are of course other numbers to be looking at, but a report with these numbers listed on it will give you a much clearer picture of the effectiveness of your community manager and the overall health of your community. These are the areas that need the most attention and will yield to you and the board the ROI you need.

The Community Manager needs to give the right information to the CIO. It is really easy to duck this one as a community manager, to play on the ignorance of the CIO, and to hide behind propped up numbers and artificial reports.

They need to give them the data they need to do their jobs, and you need to educate them on what are the real factors of your performance. You also need to recognize the pressure they are under and try to accommodate their requests regardless of how the results paint your efforts.
Be ready to explain your actions and give case studies of how your way yields greater results than their way.
Give them numbers they cannot argue with, and you will win them over.
The relationship between CIO and Community Manager should not be a strained one, but so often it is. I hope that these very few simple tips will help.

Posted by: Andrew Hemingway | November 17, 2010

“Handling” your community to accomplish business goals

How do you handle your community? This is a loaded question and one that cannot be explained in one post. Really, the question needs to be explained even before an answer can be given. So… What does it mean to “handle” your community?

Your community was created with a goal in mind. Well, I hope that is the case but most times this is not true. Let’s assume for this post that you or your company had a reason, a goal to establish a community online. Do you have that reason in mind? OK…

So with your goals in mind somewhere along the line you have to be able to accomplish those goals, and that means handling your community. Let me explain…

Shepherds raise sheep for commerce. To this end, they have to move them from field to field and protect them. Ensuring they grow strong and healthy and are able to be sold for a high price. But the shepherd must be pro-active in this effort. The shepherd does not put up a fence and the next day sheep show up, and the next day they are ready to sell. It is a process it is a LOT of work for the shepherd. It takes time…a lot of time. But the shepherd is pro-actively leading his sheep along the best most efficient path to market.

As Community managers we must be pro-active, we must be able to handle our members, to move them from field to field, and raise them to be strong healthy members that will reap benefits in the marketplace.

How do you handle your Community?

Though frequency and need varies, it is usually necessary to handle sheep several times per year for various reasons. Without an easy way to handle sheep and lambs, important tasks often get delayed or forgotten. Improper handling causes needless stress to both the sheep and the handler(s).

This is taken from an excellent resource on raising sheep. The author is an expert and has such valuable insight for us to glean from. Visit Sheep 201 for more.

The first step is to actively be engaging with your members. You need to touch your members early and often. Reach out to them and I mean on a one on one basis. Bulk emails are not the tool here, no matter how creatively you try to disguise they are bulk they always know. A personal email, an IM, something! you need to touch them. Doing this will build TRUST. They will come to trust you because they know you. They know you will not lead them down the wrong path, or harm them, they know that when you recommend and action that it is a good one. They will appreciate being handled at this point and moving them forward to your next goal will be much easier.

A thorough understanding of sheep behavior is the first step towards developing an effective method of handling sheep. Their strong flocking and following behavior tends to make sheep easy to handle, relative to other livestock species. Conversely, sheep will prove difficult to handle if you force them to act in ways that are not natural for them. – Sheep 201

Notice she says that forcing sheep to act in was not natural for them. How often this is happening in communities all over the web. It is crazy! We make our members do stuff online that we would never do ourselves. We expect them to just give us all their personal information because we are so nice. Wake up! Take a look at the way you are trying to handle your community and ask your self is this how I would like to be handled? Really some of the things I see are just amazing.

If you want a mutiny on your hands, or just a dead community then force members to act in ways that are not natural for them. If you would prefer a strong healthy vibrant community that is accomplishing business objectives then handle them carefully.

Posted by: Andrew Hemingway | November 15, 2010

Online Community Management- Watching…Always Watching…

There is one main responsibility of a shepherd- care of his flock. It is his job to watch after his sheep to insure they grow healthy and are safe, well fed, etc. He is there to watch his sheep. A blog I reference often is Sheep 201, she was talking recently about normal sheep behavior and it made me think…

Changes in normal behavior can be an early sign of illness in sheep. The most obvious example of this relates to the sheep’s most natural behavioral instinct, their flocking instinct. A sheep or lamb that is isolated from the rest of the flock is likely showing early signs of illness (unless it is lost). Even the last sheep through the gate should be suspected of not feeling well, especially if it is usually one of the first.

A shepherd has to always be watching…not just for the big dangers lurking around every corner, but for the internal issues as well, in fact these are often the most destructive.

I thought about the communities that I have managed and the community mangers that I have relationships with and over and over this same principle is true of online communities. Unfortunately I know that very, very few community managers would know if their members were “sick”, or acting differently.

Are you watching your community? This like a shepherd is your singular responsibility. Do you watch your sheep? DO you know how they normally act, behave? Do you monitor them all the time so you would know when one or more of them are sick?

You need to know your community and watch your members, to be effective as a community manager. There are many tools now available to monitor and report on your community but nothing works better than being a part of the community. Engaging with the members and building a relationship with them. This at the end of the day is still your most valuable tool.

I hope that you spend some time today just watching and getting to know your community. Look for that member that is just about to leave and build a relationship with them to ensure they receive all the value possible from your great community.

Interested in community monitoring tools? I have some reviews coming up very soon.

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