#Bufferchat: Team Collaboration

BufferChat

 

My recap of the 10/25/2017 #Bufferchat hosted by @buffer.  Join the conversation every Wednesday at 12pm EST.  No matter your profession, collaboration and communication are keys to your success.

Q1: How many people are on your particular team? Does your team have a name?

  • As a Community Manager, I collaborate across all departments
  • Team names: Community – Customer Advocate – Utility Infielder

Q2: Who do you work most closely with on your team? How do you work together?

  • I Collaborate with Marketing, Social, Tech Support, Web – utilize community groups and WebEx
  • I work the closest with my community members – we collaborate in public discussions and private groups within the community

Q3: Anyone have great tips for structuring meetings or brainstorms with your team? What works really well?

  • Private Groups within a community makes it easy to meet, exchange ideas, and store the knowledge
  • When time zones are great, WebEx to the rescue
  • Shared boards make it easy to track tasks and their stages of completion – You can also add due dates
  • Another great collaboration and tracking tool is – everyone on the same page
  • Last tool – – very easy to take and share meeting notes

Q4: What are some awesome tools that support team collaboration, and how?

Q5: What’s your advice for working through conflicts within a team?

  • Set and confirm expectations
  • NEVER make it personal
  • If there seems to be miscommunication, pick up the phone or meet in person to confirm and align

Q6: What are some ideal ways for a team to get to know each other and build trust?

  • Dinner
  • Team trip to Vegas 🙂
  • A weekly lunch with the team is a great team builder
  • Go see a relevant speaker or influencer like Seth Godin

Thanks for reading – hope to see you at the next #bufferchat and look forward to your comments and questions.

Cheers,

Toby

 

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Twitter is a Community

Illustration of social people network community

Online communities are still misunderstood: people narrowly define them by network or platform in which they live rather than the conversations themselves.  A company’s support community, a LinkedIn or Facebook group, are obvious communities, but Community is more than location: communities are places where people meet to discuss common interests, share knowledge, and help others with their problems.

Twitter is my favorite social network and is teeming with communities.

  1. Lists help me organize people by what I learn from them.   For example, I can open my list of Community Mangers to see what they are taking about – within this community, I can search for answers, ask a question to a specific person, and answer a question someone else may have asked.  This link will take you to my Twitter lists by topic: https://twitter.com/Toby_Metcalf/lists
  2. Tweetchats are weekly discussions that focus on specific topics.  I join these to listen to and network with thought leaders and judge the success of the chat by the amount of side conversations I have going.  I have made some of my strongest and most helpful networks through tweetchats.  Some of my favorites are: #Custserv #Bufferchat #Sproutchat #Twittersmarter #Hootchat – I hope to see you there.

No matter the platform, it is the people and the conversations within the platform that makes the community.  Please let me know if you have questions about Twitter or Tweetchats.

Best,

Toby

The Power of an Engaged & Organic Social Audience

Engagement

Follower / membership count is a misunderstood and deceptive social media metric.  It is possible to purchase thousands of followers, but these will certainly be bots or fake accounts and will not return business value . Your online community may have 200,000 members, but how many are actually participating and contributing?  If followers are not organically grown through engagement, you do not have an audience; you have a list.

One of my social mentors, Martin Lieberman (@martinlieberman), and I regularly discuss this phenomenon: it’s called “social media,” why do so many only push content and ignore discussion?  Ask a question, provide an answer, share personal insights; social media is about conversations.  In addition to thought leadership blogs and company announcements, genuinely respond to your customer’s questions and actually engage them.  Engagement will positively impact your business.

Customers turn to social media to research a company’s culture as well as for trusted peer opinions and product insight.  What is the tone of your Twitter feed, what types of content are you sharing?  Does your company have an online community: what is the activity level, do members interact with one another, are employees participating?  No matter the platform, an engaging social strategy builds customer trust, differentiates your brand, and most importantly, creates advocates.

Engaging customers and cultivating them into advocates should be a priority.  Advocates are loyal consumers who help you meet revenue goals.  Advocates talk about your brand, increase awareness, and provide trusted reviews to potential customers. Advocates share your content with their networks which improves your SEO.  Advocates answer the majority of the questions within your community which lowers customer service costs.  Simply creating an account or community and pushing content will not yield advocates, advocates are nurtured through honest engagement.

It’s called “social” media.

Cheers,

Toby

 

 

Do You Have The Right (Support) Bucket?

Capture

Customer service and support is continuously evolving and great service differentiates brands and turns customers into advocates.  This blog will discuss three service buckets and how an online community can benefit your company while providing your customers an outstanding service experience.

The First Bucket: Phone Queue

Something we are all familiar with, but often hate using.  Because there such a high staffing cost to companies, customers are often burdened with lengthy menus or unhelpful automated responses.  To add further irritation, it is often difficult to reach the rep with the right level of knowledge leading to transferred calls, the need for a customer to start over; a horrible experience.

The Second Bucket: Self Service

Convenience and speed are appreciated by customers and allowing them to help themselves is very popular.  YouTube videos,  or a knowledge base created from solved customer problems are very helpful to customers and will free up support rep time, but what if a customer has a question?  If there is no way to ask a question or if comments are not monitored, the problem still exists and the customer remains frustrated.

The Third Bucket: Online Community

An online community offers customers many things they are seeking: speed of answers, access to a knowledge base, and most importantly, the ability to ask questions about their unique issue.  Like a knowledge base, a community cuts costs by documenting solutions and providing self service; both reduce demand on support reps.  Furthermore, most community solutions are provided by customers: a cost savings for the company, and trusted by peers.

An online community will deliver trusted and targeted support to your customers in a timely manner while reducing costs for your company.  If you have not done so, it is time for your community!  I look forward to your questions and comments.

Best,

Toby

#SproutChat: Managing Online Communities

SproutChat

Good day Community Managers, this is my recap and answers I provided for the 10/4/2017 #SproutChat hosted by Vera Flores  and guest Meagan DeMenna @SocialMeagan Join the conversation every Wednesday at 3pm EST.

Q1: What is a digital community? How do you define this?

  • Digital community: an online place where ppl can gather & trade knowledge & interests
  • The community is online and ppl share common interests and answer each other’s questions
  • A tweetchat is a great example of a digital community

Q2: What are some first steps to building a digital community? Where can these communities live?

  • Determine what your community will do: peer to peer support, marketing, internal, external, product development
  • Communities can live on Facebook or LinkedIn (free) – or (paid)
  • Determine what features you want – analytics you need – what is the customer experience?
  • What resources do you have: financial and personnel
  • Determine if your community and its content will be open or private
  • I believe community content should be open (for SEO), but you must register to participate

Q3: How do you identify community goals? And how do you measure the success of your community?

  • If for peer to peer support: Question volume (increasing or decreasing), Engagement Rate, Answer Rate
  • Rather than overall membership, focus on activity: members creating content, reacting to it (and each other)

Q4: How can you use content to fuel your community?

  • Content IS the fuel
  • Content: Answers, Best Practices, How-To’s, Blogs, Videos – these are why ppl come
  • Along with content, it is important for your to respond to and engage with your members

Q5: What are some tips for engaging and encouraging conversation with a community?

  • If you put out a blog or video, ask for questions AND respond to them
  • If there is an unanswered question, ask a Power User to chime in and answer
  • Acknowledge members by thank them for their answers and contributions
  • Identify your power users / MVPs, acknowledge them and recognize them in front of the community

Q6: Share some of the communities you belong to

This was a fantastic chat about Community and I thank you  @SproutSocial  @sproutvera ‏  @SocialMeagan for hosting.  Please let me know if you have any questions about building and managing online communities as well as Community platforms.  See you at the next #SproutChat.

Best,

Toby

 

Get Your Business Blog Off The Ground

Blogging can deliver enormous business value: customer engagement, thought leadership, SEO; the list goes on, but how to get started?  Every business has different goals and resources; I am not going to discuss strategy: I am going to provide a workflow and some best practices.

BlogFlow

  1. Select Topic: Companies often focus on thought leadership (which is important), but you must also deliver content your customers value.  Talking about yourself or brand may help with SEO, but it will do nothing for engagement; engagement builds trust, loyalty, and may uncover a sales opportunity.
  2. Research: Build your case and assemble the supporting documents, graphics, video, etc.
  3. Compose:
    • Grab readers with your headline.
    • Write in your own “voice:” let your personality come through.
    • Links to supporting sites are great, but like hashtags, don’t overuse them.
    • Stick to 600 words and consider a multiple part series for complex topics like new product features.  Provide enough to inform, but keep some back to encourage questions: think appetizer, not entree.
  4. Post:  Where will this blog live and how will your customers learn about it?  Will this blog live on your website or within your online community?  Once you post, utilize Twitter to announce the blog and drive people to it.
  5. Respond:  DO NOT blog without responding to customer comments or questions; these are golden opportunities.  Encourage questions, ask for feedback, and thank readers for them.

Now that you have a foundation, start planning, start publishing, start educating, and start engaging.  I look forward to and welcome your comments and questions.

Best,

Toby

#ContentChat: Designing Exceptional Community Experiences

ContentChat

Good day Community Managers, this is my recap and answers I provided for the 10/2/2017 #ContentChat chat hosted by Erika Heald  and guest Arielle Tannenbaum @ariellemargot  Join the conversation every Monday at 3pm EST.

Q1: How do you define an exceptional community experience?

  • An exceptional community experience is all about engagement: members need to get answers
  • An exceptional community experience means interacting with & learning from ppl with shared interests / goals
  • Where everyone knows your name – and glad you came 🙂
  • A place were members feel welcomed and are not afraid to ask questions

Q2: What do you do differently as a community builder when you are focused on experience?

  • Rather than trying to give answers, I stimulate conversations and encourage others to answers
  • Focus on interaction and conversation – always say thank you
  • Train members on the features and layout of the community: help them use the tools & organize content
  • Ask members about their interests and what they want to learn
  • Focus on interesting content rather than pushing yours
  • Learn about your membership, identify your power users, and engage them

Q3: Why should community builders be focused on community experience?

  • Communities are like restaurants: the experience is as important as the meal
  • Members don’t only want answers, but friendly interaction and relationships as well
  • Like where you work, the environment is everything

Q4: What are the essential elements of an exceptional community experience?

  • Shared experiences, engagement, answers, relationships
  • Supportive environment where everyone can learn from each other

Q5: What are the primary issues or challenges holding many community builders back from taking an experience approach?

  • Management that doesn’t understand community
  • A community needs to have an environment & conversations before focusing on metrics
  • Not taking the time to build trust and relationships with members
  • Fear of companies, the CMGR, moderators of real engagement – show your personality

Q6: What is an exceptional community experience you’ve had? What made it special to you?

  • It’s all about being recognized by the CMGR and the membership
  • Having a community where you can always get answers – a knowledge base that talks to you

Thanks for reading, I would love your comments.  Please stop by #ContentChat and join the conversation.

Cheers,

Toby