What Community Managers Should Do Every Morning for Success
I recently caught this post on Fast Company called "What Successful People do the First Hour of Their Work Day" - great advice in there. I felt inspired to write something on how you can make the most of each day as a Community Manager, based on my personal experiences. Some might not exactly be "morning only" tips but they are relevant and important. Here are some ways I kickstart my day for optimal success:
Re-connect with your Community
Well this sounds silly since that's our job right? As fast as our day-to-day moves and with the consistent juggling of priorities, sometimes we forget to slow down and make an effort to connect on a personal level. Plan an in-person coffee date. Reach out to a community member without a prompt or objective. Call someone on the phone. Doing this not only will remind you why you love job but also impact your community in a positive way.
We most likely start every morning checking an onslaught of tweets from the previous night, attempting to get to inbox sanity, and pouring over our social media tools. We plough through it and respond, but are we really listening? What's the sentiment of the conversation (I'm not talking that percentage in your social platform)? Community Managers are good at their jobs because of instinct and good judgement - we can read one Hacker News comment and infer where the conversation is headed. It isn't measurable but extremely valuable. Really get your head into the pulse of what's happening by watching the patterns of your community and the industry. Once you know the patterns, you can figure out the correct next steps for both positive engagement and fire drills. Then you can truly be proactive instead of reactive.
Plan for Productivity
A day in the life of a Community Manager means balancing a load of multiple objectives and tasks. Depending on your role you might be jumping between creating content, managing Twitter, assisting support and more, all in between meetings. It's important to block times to do work, as well as protect your work day in order to be productive. I look at my calendar every morning and plan exactly how I'll be spending that day by putting blocks of work on the calendar for specific projects. This helps keep you on task and focused, in the end increasing your productivity. Here's a snapshot of my calendar - it's a mix of meetings and blocked work times, I even schedule my workouts:
It can feel like every day something pops up that is a 'must act now!' situation driven by someone on your team with a sense of urgency. Maybe you open your inbox each morning to new, and always 'high priority' requests. Companies may also push programs over to Community Management if it doesn't seem to fit on any other team internally. While it's in our nature to want to take it all on, we have to learn to say no and push back on internal demands to do what best serves the community.
As mentioned above, it's tough for a community manager to carve out time to plan and strategize while we're balancing our work load. When you are planning your day for productivity it is so very important to block time for strategic thinking. This allows you to take a step back and figure out what's working, what's not working and what you can do to pull the right levers for success. It also helps drive the importance of community management in your company by providing thought leadership instead of just demonstrating tactical skills.
Make Friends on the Inside
Community Managers work across multiple teams inside our companies: engineering, recruiting, design, support, product marketing, etc - it's important to strengthen those relationships for a friendly and smooth workflow. It's also important to have a clear idea of other teams' objectives and work load so you're knowledgable when asking for resources. Everyone is fighting for resources in a startup, especially from engineering and design. It's as simple as making time to ask a team what they're working on in the upcoming sprints, or walking to a person's desk instead of using IM to communicate. Having respect and understanding for the other teams you work with will open the door for more positive work relationships. It seems like something we should already know, but it can get lost in the every day hustle.
I borrowed this from the Fast Company article because it's a great tip for everyone in any field, and in daily life. Take 5 minutes in the morning (or evening) to think about the things you are grateful for - this will also remind you why you are doing the job you do. It can be focused on your career, but extend it to what you're grateful for in every day life. You can also take this a step further and try out a little visualization tactic, envisioning what you want to achieve in the future and engaging your subconscious mind. But that's content for an entirely different blog post....
What do you do to make sure you're being the most successful community manager you can be?