5 tips for standing out from the community manager applicant crowd

I started working in the social media space 7 years ago. While a lot has changed since then on the job front one thing is a depressing constant. Hiring managers have no clue what they’re looking for. The professionalization of the industry has actually made this worse. When I started out- basically being in your 20s and knowing how to pull up a free analytics tool could land you a job. Social media was low cost and high reward.

Now it’s different- sort of. Hiring managers know that they should be looking for more but they’re still not sure what. So you end up with bizarre Frankensteined job descriptions saying everything and nothing. Meanwhile on the job seeker side things aren’t much better. In a world where your best work is designed to vanish in 24 hours how are you supposed to demonstrate your value? How do you figure out which skills to invest time in when job descriptions seem to depend on the latest trend? (Remember when everyone demanded you have experience running Snapchat campaigns?)

The way to stand out is to take charge of your story. Decide what you want your path to be and then make sure that comes through in everything you do during the job search. Be the professional in an often informal and unprofessional situation. It’s a great way to stand out and is a great way to demonstrate what you bring to the table. Let’s face it- most marketing departments are noisy and disorganized. By being the super organized and professional applicant, you highlight additional strengths you’ll bring to the table once you get the job.

Taking control begins with your resume and LinkedIn.

  1. Be data driven- go through everything you’ve done and find numbers. Even if they’re estimations always include numbers they show hiring managers that you understand the importance of data- not just hype
  2. Emphasize your skills. Community management means being a multi tool. Make a list of everything you do and reword it to generalize your skills to other marketing roles. For example: Responding to twitter DMs= first touch customer service and triage, social media audits = data storytelling, creating and scheduling posts= content marketing
  3. Be crystal clear about your category. There are types of community managers and in 2019 most jobs are looking for you to be a specialist rather than a generalist. I’ve listed a few typical categories in the table below. You’re probably a combination of these- that’s fine! Go back through everything you’ve done and start to build a resume around each. You want it to SCREAM your specialization.
  4. Support it with LinkedIn. Think of your LinkedIn profile as supporting documentation for everything on your resume. Don’t be shy about asking for recommendations. I try to ask for a coworker and manager at everyplace I’ve been. Be sure to put your best foot forward. Add links to work you’ve done. If you already blog, crosspost the ones you’d like a hiring manager to see to linkedin pulse for added visibility. Even if they don’t read it, just having them there will register.
  5. Know the market, what you’re looking for and where to find it! Have a dream of managing the Wendy’s handle? Don’t apply to Wendy’s! It’s outsourced to an agency. Want to do work with nonprofits or the arts as a community manager? Again- probably going to be an agency. Want to work for a particular brand? Look through all their marketing, comms, customer experience positions to get a sense of where they are in their digital journey. Few companies are hiring community managers but they may be hiring content marketers or analytics specialists. Talk to your connections not just to get a job opportunity – get intel from them about the type of candidate they look for. Use the opportunity to learn about their process – it can help you read the signs later on!
CMGR TypeMusts
Content
Creator
Enjoy wordplay, Love Grammar, have graphic design experience
Customer
Service
Be very patient, Detail- oriented, Good in a crisis
AnalystPivot table geek, Data visualization, Stickler for statistics
Campaign/ Event Strategist Problem solver, Strong presentation skills, Planner

I hope this has been useful. I’ve been on the market quite a few times and I know how scary and overwhelming it can be. It’s a huge irony that exuding confidence is a the key to getting past the vulnerability of unemployment. It’s definitely a case of fake it until you make it- and one killer way to fake it is to take control of your search.

Check out part two of this series where I go into some of the nuances of applying to startups versus agencies versus big brands.

Dear Snapchat, It didn’t have to go down like this

Things are not good in Snapchat land. On Thursday, Snap announced that it had gained a mere 7M daily active users in the past 3 months- up from 166M in May. “So?”, you might say, “that’s still growth- at least they aren’t loosing users”. Well…. The problem is that during the previous 3 month period, they had gained 8M daily active users. Healthy social networks mean exponential user growth and that’s what investors expect to see.

But that’s really been the problem all along for Snapchat- it never invested in the user experience to become a social network. For me, that’s really the unforgivable part of this whole saga. It could have been great. But they decided not to listen to the voices along the way who have been clamoring for features such as robust native analytics (still MIA), links (added July 2017), group chat (added December 2016) long before Facebook ever got into their turf. The lack of those key features kept many individuals and, importantly, brand strategists from adopting Snapchap as a core network. Instead we used it for the tech, not for the relationship outcomes. That’s why Facebook was able to swoop in and undermine it so quickly with Instagram.

Successful social networks have technology and community. That’s why Facebook was able to survive Google+ but Snapchat is becoming entirely undermined by Facebook.

Google+ went after Facebook HARD. People, including myself, loved the Google+ interface. Recall that this was around the time that Facebook was facing uproar from their original users about privacy, the algorithm and ad-creep. We were looking for an alternative to the social network whose founder said that privacy was no longer a social norm.  The hope was that Google, with their motto at the time of “Don’t be evil” could provide that. Moreover, Google+ had better tech as well- from higher resolution photos to native video integration with YouTube and Hangouts (light years before Facebook would introduce video)- they outpaced them. And yet they could not, for the life of them, build a user base.

Fast forward to the present where Snapchat is in the battle of its life because, wait for it, Facebook is copying features. Yes it’s true that Snapchat can still hold onto the “cool” factor amount teens. But that same 2016 report spelled doom for monetization-showing that teens hate ads or, even worse, simply ignore them. Also let’s be honest once those teens mature out of their anti-establishment phase, there is a very strong chance that they will migrate over to the platforms that their sorority sisters, frat brothers, universities, and yes (gasp) even parents are on (college kids get homesick).

In his article “Why I’m leaving Snapchat and so are all of your friends” Owen Williams summed it up well:

I think, after years of being an active Snapchat user and fan, I’ve decided to move on. The service was fun, but I’ve realized recently that it doesn’t offer anything unique, and even if Facebook was copying the company in the first place, it’s done a better job than Snapchat ever could.

The majority of my friends have moved across, and those who initially relented seem to have started getting their feet wet with Instagram too. Facebook, be it accidentally or on purpose, has created an Instagram renaissance that has us more addicted than ever before because we get to see beautiful photos in the feed, then the raw, real life stuff in stories.

Google+ was pretty much doomed from the start but Snapchat didn’t have to be. They had several years of unsullied market share that Facebook tried and failed to land grab. But instead of thinking through ways to strategically strengthen their signal, build out platform stickiness and monetization opportunities, their boy kings decided that they were too good for such things. They were Snapchat.

Well. Good luck with that is all I can say.

 

Personal Branding- Your Insurance Policy When Life Gets Tough

I stood in front of my students a few weeks ago to talk to them about creating their personal brand strategy. This is a semester-long project I’m having them do. It was a bit emotional for me given that just a few days previously my full time position had been downgraded to contractor work and I’ve found myself suddenly in the position of turning back to my personal brand to get me to the next step in my life.

It’s made me reflect on how it all began…

We talk a lot about personal branding in the marketing world. Some people really dig the opportunity to talk about how great they are but that’s never been my thing. I’m most comfortable being the geek behind the scenes who makes it all come together. I love empowering others and building communities. I don’t relish the spotlight.

BUT it is no longer enough to send in a resume and hope someone will notice. That’s particularly the case with my background. I’m not the person with a marketing degree and 6-8 years experience working with brands and agencies. I’m the grad student who spent time in Belgrade talking with nationalists to understand what made them tick. I’m the girl passionate about understanding why communities come together and what internal psychology fuels that sense of group identity.

And I’m the PhD student who stumbled into social strategy by accidentally leading a grass-roots revolution at the University of Virginia to reinstate their first female president.

My first job in social strategy was at UVA while still a grad student because they figured it was better to bring me into the process rather than have me outside at the gates. That ended up being my out once my advisors made it clear that my research on public opinion and social media just wasn’t going to be supported (that was 2012… have a feeling they’d be singing a different tune now)

January 2013 I knew that I needed to leave and get into the private sector if I wanted to continue to follow my passion of harnessing social analytics to understand how individuals participate in communities. So that’s when I started my blog, ramped up my Twitter and Linkedin accounts and got rolling.

That’s how my personal brand was born. Out of crisis and out of necessity.

It was this that I worked to communicate to my students, particularly those currently working or leading start-ups. Your personal brand should be something that you can use in your job BUT it should be more than your job. It’s your opportunity to think about what makes you YOU. What makes you unique?

I broke them into groups and it was probably a class more akin to psychology than marketing as they talked with each other about who they are as a person and then shared that to the class. We learned that one student is a single mom another a veteran. One guy spoke up with a lopsided grin and said that there was nothing that made him unique and that he was in fact rather stupid and easily distracted but he said it in a way that made the whole class laugh. We encouraged him to run with that- and by the end of the class he had begun to think about how he could actually leverage that bit of him into a full strategy.

That’s what personal branding should be. It’s not about the humble brag. It’s about introducing yourself and entering different communities to share your story and engage with theirs. As humans we want to build relationships and we want to help each other. Creating a personal brand allows that human attribute to translate online. It’s why we embrace each other when we meet IRL. We know each other and are rooting for each other. That’s the power of the personal brand.

I’m Suzie. I’m the girl with the red hair. I’m quirky and caring. I am at my best when I’m building and creating new opportunities for engagement. I work to translate this passion and personality online through my blogs, engagement in groups, and participation in conversations. It’s honestly who I am.

I’m Suzie. I’m a kick-ass strategist and I’m on the market. Tweet, DM, InMail me- let’s talk.

My Social “Secret Sauce”

As a Social Strategist I do a lot of work with clients on building up their brands and executing various types of initiatives and relationship-building. But, as a lot of you know, I also spend a good bit of time building up my own “personal brand”. Now before I go any further let me make it clear that this post is not designed to be a “How to Build Your Personal Brand” post. If I was going to do one of those it would be super short: “Your online persona should be an authentic representation of your offline self.” *mic drop*

The way that I go about building my personal brand may not be how you should do it. A blog, for example, might not be the best fit for you. One of the biggest things that I’ve learned is that you have to be honest with yourself before you can be authentic with others. My goal with this post is to talk about how I’ve gone about creating my own personal brand and, specifically, the tools and metrics I look at to figure out how to make sure I’m engaging rather than broadcasting.

Let’s start off with a story. A lot of social strategists don’t have a large following. That’s because we tend to be super focused on the brands that we work with which doesn’t leave much time to work on our own. In February of this year I had 1,500 followers and a Klout score of 63 (I’ll be mentioning Klout not because it’s the end all be all -I don’t think it has any bearing on Influencer metrics- BUT it is a marker for our industry so, in my opinion, for personal branding it does hold, well, clout). 

Over the past few months I’d been gently encouraged by my mentor and boss Bryan Kramer to spend time on my own brand. I was at Interconnect mid-February, listening to Brian Fanzo giving his first Ignite talk, when something just clicked and I decided that in the future I wanted to be up there. Overall there’s a total dearth of women within the social strategy space- we tend to be behind the scenes- and I want to change that.

Here’s where I feel like I can be helpful to some of you out there. When I’m co-hosting #H2HChat I tend to see the same question pop up from the audience “How can I become an Influencer?”. I’d like to gently say that that’s the wrong question to ask. It’s like being a leader. No one goes out and says “I’m a leader and now you will all follow me” at least unless they’re in a Totalitarian regime. You’re a leader when others begin to call you one. And you have to give them a reason to do so. The same thing goes for being an Influencer. People can tell if you’re faking it.

Back to my story. Between March 1 and July 1, my follower count grew to 11K and Klout score to 77 and I can honestly say that it all comes from being authentic, listening and engaging with my community. I’m constantly testing different types of posts and monitoring engagement. I also look at which communities tend to follow me back when I follow them.

Here are the 3 primary tools I use to accomplish this:

Buffer

I decided to invest in Buffer’s basic account because it’s a terrific way to 1. find interesting content; 2: easily monitor the types of content my community engages with; 3. repost that content. I use the “suggested content” sparingly but there are absolutely some pieces that I’ve discovered and that my community loves. I’m a big fan of their RSS feed feature. Among my feeds are Adweek, Mashable, FastCompany and, of course, Bryan Kramer’s blog. I try to make sure I’m mixing up my content and I always try to include an image. Occasionally I’ll change up images on a post if it doesn’t do as well as I thought it would to see if that helps. Recently I’ve been testing out some humorous images.

Twitter Analytics

A seriously underutilized tool. I wrote a whole blog post about it here so I won’t go on about it too much. In particular I look at the ratio of impressions to tweets for each day. I also scroll down the tweets and see rate of engagement. This gives me an indicator of what’s doing well and what isn’t. I also use Twitter’s analysis of my audience to decide the type of content to post. For example, my audience is as interested in Technology as in Marketing. Once I found this out I made sure to include some content about interesting inventions every now and again.

ManageFlitter

This is the other tool that I’ve invested in. It’s $12/month and a great way to find followers. Often these tools can get abused for mass follow/unfollowing but ManageFlitter let’s me tailor my searches to very specific audiences that I think will be interested in my content. My favorite feature is the Power Tool. When you’re trying to increase your following, which in the age of vanity metrics is something we do all think about, work on doing so in a targeted an authentic way. I’ve gone so far as to force unfollow any spam accounts that follow me because I want to make sure that my community is genuine.

And that’s it folks. Those three tools empower my social secret sauce. I’d love to say that I use more and I absolutely do at times but these are the ones that I use daily to check-in with my audience and make sure that what I’m sharing and how I’m communicating is of value to my community.

What do you use for your personal branding? Tweet me @suzimcc – I’d love to hear them 🙂

Our Shared Rainbow Moment

Only a few days in my life can compare to the feelings of pure joy and solidarity that I felt on June 26, 2015. It’s one of those markers that I believe is going to go down in history as collective memory- a “what were you doing when you heard” moment in time that we share with each other in years to come. Events such as those make us want to come together as humans- introverts and extraverts alike- to be with each other. Sharing those moments with others is a major part of the experience and we see spontaneous congregation in city centers to be with each other. Everyone wants to be a part of it.

On June 26th we saw the way that Facebook and Twitter in particular have become virtual city centers. Within minutes of the announcement profile photos across the social space were redone in various shades of rainbow. Tons of Brands joined in with, in my opinion, no real visible marketing strategy, rather they seemed to be motivated feeling that they should be a part of this momentous occasion. (A H2H moment!) And while Facebook didn’t change their logo they launched the “Celebrate Pride Tool” to create a rainbow filter of your profile picture. By the end of the day my Twitter and Facebook feeds were full of rainbows. A visual testament to our unity at a momentous time in history.

What does this mean? Probably not much in the long run. A bitter election campaign is right around the corner. Our profiles and feeds will be full of various opinions and divisions. Statistically unfollowing and de friending WILL occur. But let’s remember this moment. The field of rainbows- each an individual decision to create. Each representing a moment when we made a very human decision- to stand up and be counted and unite our voices together in celebration of equality.

Yes I’m waxing eloquent and no I don’t care. Blame it on the rainbow.

facebookphotorainbow

Twitter Turns to the Humans

Big news in Twitter land. At long last Twitter has decided to take control of our chaotic streams. Within the next few months Twitter will be unveiling “Project Lightning” – a human-powered curated feed by Twitter’s editorial team dedicated to providing useful information in real time based on what it considered to be the big stories of the day. From Wired: “The curated feeds will be separate from your Twitter timeline, access via a new button in its mobile app. The new screen will feature a list of seven to ten events taking place on any given day— ranging from scheduled events to breaking news to popular memes— featuring tweets, photos, and videos related to the event.”

This isn’t really a surprise-we all knew something had to give and it sounds like at long last Twitter has made it’s move. Over the past few months there has been speculation within the Tech and Social media circles about which way Twitter would go- whether it would move towards the pattern of Facebook or perhaps even get bought out by Google.

Turns out Twitter had something else up it’s sleeve. It decided to get back to it’s fundamental roots. As David Pierce wrote, “Twitter isn’t about a 140-character limit… It’s about a single question, the one you see when you first load twitter.com: “What’s happening?” And that’s true. Twitter usage always surges during events- from tragedy such as the Boston Bombing to global events such as the World Cup. As I mentioned in my earlier post Twitter is where we came together to have difficult conversations about race and gender following two horrible events. It’s that question “What’s happening?” And that’s a very human question. It’s one that we get irritated with Facebook for not answering. The every shifting algorithm is known for delivering old news to timelines. Sure that old news might be “quality content” but it’s still old.

As thousands of blogs have stated over the past few years, humans are social creatures, but what a lot of these posts don’t explore is that part of being social is having realtime conversations. Because let’s face it, conversations take place in realtime. Facebook existed way before Twitter, but it was the latter that gave rise to Tweet-ups and then TweetChats. How many times have you said “We’ve been friends on Facebook for years and now that we meet in person I feel like I know you?”. Yeah, try never. Twitter conversations and interactions foster that sense of creating new relationships.

It makes sense that Jack Dorsey is back to oversee this transition. Jack very much about this human element and opportunities of Twitter. Let’s not forget that Jack, a native of St. Louis, headed down to Ferguson during the height of the protests using Vine to document the on-the-ground events. His justification was simple-he want to be there to share it with the world. From Business Insider: “People were just bringing out their phones and recording everything,” Dorsey said. “That was so important to people on the ground. It felt like the whole world was watching. It’s so critical to make this world feel smaller, that is the power of Twitter.”

And that’s the vision behind Twitter and that’s the direction in which it sounds like they’re moving.

As a social strategist of course I’m thinking about what this means for the human-to-human element of brand strategy. At the moment I’m not sure what this is going to mean. We’ll have to see what the actual layout looks like and how it gets implemented. As several articles point out, Twitter has tried various forms of this model to no avail (think “Discover”). But my hunch is that whatever form Project Lightening ultimately takes, this is going to be a watershed moment. And I, for one, am excited to see where this goes.

I drew upon two Wired articles for this post, Twitter is Killing Twitter to Save Twitter and Twitter is Now Going to Decide What Should Matter to You both of which have great point of views that I highly suggest you check out for some additional insight.

In Defense of 140 Characters

Twitter’s 140 character limit occurred because they envisioned it to be a SMS-centric network. SMS messages allow for 160 characters so 140 characters leaves 20 characters for a username. witter’s decision has had a transformative impact on human communication. In addition to ushering in the hashtag Twitter brought us into the world of abbreviations. Informal abbreviations came into being with SMS and AIM but before Twitter it was highly doubtful that you’d see an elected official publicly using those abbreviations.

Many lament this as a massacre of the English language. A few years ago I sat on a committee at a prominent University during which an administrator blamed Twitter for increasing poor writing skills (newsflash- that has more to do with cuts in funding).

But as someone who has always had a passing relationship with spelling (thank you LA public schools!) and a creative approach to grammar I don’t see the problem. Someone who is going to write well will always write well. A social media platform isn’t going to change that.

And I’ll go a step further. The 140 character limit makes us think before we speak or type. This is an important exercise and one with which I have always struggled. I had a professor for my Russian Politics class who made us write a paper on the rise of Stalin using 5 sources limited to one page, single spaced 12pt times new roman with 1 in margins. Every sentence that went over a page would drop out grade by one letter. This was one of the most frustrating and most rewarding exercises I did. It forced me to deliberately examine the need for each word and quote I used. Before then I had never realized how much filler I threw into my papers. I found that when I stripped the filler from my writing my argument became tighter and more reasoned.

This goes against the grain of free-flow communication. But let’s pull back and think about the best conversations that you have. A good conversation is a dialogue and when it’s really good it often involves talking at the same time. In other words- engaging each other.

I believe that the 140-character limit facilitates this. It forces us to open ourselves up to conversation and tweets asking “what do you mean?”. That’s a phrase you seldom see on Facebook. Rather those conversations tend to be an exchange of opinions and on average I find that conversations on Facebook tend to be less back and forth and more broadcasting. Of course there are many differences between Facebook and Twitter that could be the cause of this difference-chief among which is the difference in friends versus following/followers dynamic. But I believe that there is a correlation that should be taken into consideration.

All of this being said, adding a few characters to Twitter most likely wouldn’t change this dynamic. But my question is why bother? Let Twitter be a place for rapid-fire conversations shaped by the necessity of abbreviations and creative spelling. Don’t try to fit an entire thought into one tweet. Embrace the chaos.

Twitter is not Facebook and for that I’m very thankful.