Hiring an amazing community manager is straight up difficult.
Why is it that companies struggle when filling such an important position?
There are typically four main reasons:
1. You don’t know who is legit when everyone who tweets or pins calls themselves a “community manager.”
2. The company doesn’t actually know what they want.
3. Someone can be a great CM but not for your community.
4. They try to hire someone who can build strategy on an entry level budget.
As a result of these four things, most companies that I speak to who know they need community help are completely lost on how to find the right person.
Over the past few years, I’ve helped place a number of community managers and have advised dozens of companies on how to find the right person.
Hopefully this guide helps you find the right person for your community position:
1. What are your actual needs? Are you even hiring for community?
This will solve the first two problems right away. It’s easy to know if you’ve found the right person if you’re super clear about what it is you actually need. Forget about titles.
Are you hiring someone to build a power user program? Then look for someone who has done that before.
Are you hiring someone to manage a forum? Seek out that experience.
Are you hiring for someone to do social media marketing? Then find someone who’s done that (and don’t call them a community manager when you hire them, thanks!)
2. Will this person be expected to develop strategy?
If yes, you have to pay them more than 30k/year.
You cannot hire someone with no experience, and expect them to develop a community strategy. Only hire someone entry level if you’re super clear about what the strategy is already and you just need someone to execute.
I was hired to run strategy for my first job. I sucked at it.
If you want someone who will understand the business goals and be able to build a program to accomplish those goals, you’re looking for someone with 3+ years of experience.
If you want someone who will build out and manage a team of community managers, you probably want someone with 5+ years of experience.
These are just numbers based on what I’ve seen work, that doesn’t mean you can’t make it work.
3. What qualities should you look for in a community manager?
I always look for someone who is very social, can connect people with each other, maintains a level head, has a healthy sense of humor and has an analytical mind.
That last one is important. There are a lot of people who can talk to people. There are few that can also tie that back to real metrics.
This Quora question has more good info.
4. Job descriptions
My only advice here is to try to be specific. Take your time to figure out the answer to #1 and get real tight about what your actual needs are.
The worst CM job descriptions I’ve seen will overwhelm you with vague requirements that span across multiple roles. We need someone who can manage our social media accounts (what does that mean?), who can be the voice of the brand (what?), who is passionate about food (why?) and who has a proven track record building community (not sure what that means).
Be specific and make it clear where the community manager will live within the company.
5. Where to look
This is a fun one! You could look for people who already have experience as a community manager. Or you can look somewhere unexpected.
Personally, I’d rather hire someone who understands business strategy, has a clear understanding of human beings and is sincerely interested in the topic to run my community than someone who claims to be a good fit because they’re a “digital native”.
They can be anywhere! They can be an existing employee. Just remember, know what your goals are, and look for the best possible person to help you achieve those goals.
Now go and find a badass.
If you need help, David [at] thecommunitymanager.com. I like helping.
Ever been asked to be or find an online community manager? Here's some good advice.
By Nicole Lampe, Digital Strategy Director, Resource Media, NTEN
With 24/7 internet access on smartphones and tablets, folks these days are drowning in information. As screens and attention spans shrink, so too must our content. In the past couple years, blog posts have given way to Facebook updates, Tumblrs, and tweets. And the meteoric rise of Instagram and Pinterest shows that people are weary of words and hungry for eye candy.
Turns out, there is a scientific explanation for our love of visuals. Our brains treat text as a series of symbols, meaning we have to decode words to grasp their meaning. Pictures, on the other hand, speak for themselves. There is an art and science to choosing photos (Resource Media is compiling a report that merges the latest research and expert advice on the topic, due out this summer). But for this article, we'll focus on visual communications' latest craze: infographics.
They are everywhere. I can't open Facebook without being confronted by visualizations of everything from the fiscal cliff to the zombie apocalypse. But, infographics only work if the basic ingredients are good (you know that old saying about lipstick on a pig…). If you don't have something new and interesting to say, great design can't save you.
Since I'm a communicator not a designer, I'll focus on the content side of the equation.
Any marketer worth their salt can tell you a powerful infographic is social media solid gold. But what is it that compels people to share, like, or tweet? Or to write a check or take action? It's not a beauty contest. Your graphics have to mean something, and the data they convey has to matter.
To get at this meaning and mattering stuff, I like to start with the four W's (actually, number four starts with an H, but you get the idea…):
Who are you trying to reach?What do you want them to know (and do)?Why should they care?How will you get in front of them?
Number one helps you get at audience. “The general public” is not specific enough. Do you need to illuminate an issue for policymakers? Reassure your donors that their dollars are being put to good use? Convince green lifestylers to waste less food? Once you've identified the target, you can begin developing a concept that will resonate with their values.
Next, you need to articulate the take-away. We've all seen graphics that contain a bunch of numbers and figures without a coherent narrative. So before you whip out the colored pencils, take a moment to draft a paragraph that tells the story of your information. This text won't end up in the final product; it just informs the design. Check for clarity by brainstorming headlines or tweets that might accompany the infographic. Is the moral of the story simple enough to convey in 140 characters?
The “why” (or “so what”) question is key. It's an opportunity to check the timeliness and relevance of your concept. Can you tie it to current events? Does it impact people's homes, health, or happiness?
Finally, it's never too early to think about delivery, because this too will influence design. If you are hoping to blast your infographic out across the interwebs, make sure it works on the small screens of today. That means no epic scrolling required. And for digital distribution, you should be able to sum up its significance in a tweet, Facebook post, or email subject line.
Once you've answered the four W's, it's time to get visual. Here again, I find a formula helpful to make sure the story you've composed with words comes to life graphically. The elements I like to think about are:
Setting: Many of my favorite infographics are cast against a familiar backdrop—a family home, specific country, or even a season. This immediately orients the viewer and helps connect the information to their lives.
Consider this Sightline graphic about a proposal to ship 48 million tons of coal through Seattle each year. It uses local landmarks to show the sheer scale of the proposal, and drive home the idea that this mountain of coal will be going through Seattleites' backyards.
Problem or opportunity: Business as usual doesn't make for a very exciting story. Effective infographics illustrate the need or chance for meaningful change.
Another great Seattle example: this graphic from a campaign to clean up Puget Sound created a Tox-ick monster to show that polluted run-off from yards and streets adds up to a big problem in the Sound. It tees up the campaign's call to “stop feeding the monster.” Which brings us to our next key component.
Solution or call to action: Don't be a Debbie Downer. If you are going to shine a light on a problem, by all means offer a solution.
You don't have to hit people over the head with it. Consider this graphic about the disparity between the factors that influence our health and our wellness spending habits. It doesn't explicitly urge the viewer to exercise or eat more fish, but it highlights the benefits—cost savings on doctor's visits and medication—that people can realize if they invest in a healthy lifestyle.
Ready to draw your own story? Walking through the four W's before you hire a designer, and having a setting and plot for your story should set you up for success. If you are looking to DIY, TechSoup has compiled a great list of free resources.
Have examples of powerful nonprofit infographics that tell a story visually? Please post the links in the comments section below. I'll add them to our Pinterest board that helps to shine a light on worthy causes and good design.
And if you're hungry for Pantone talk, come to the 2013 Nonprofit Technology Conference and join my "Draw Me a Story workshop", where I'll team up with infodesigner extraordinaire David Schellinger to dish on everything from color to composition to distribution.
A quick search on Amazon shows that in 2012 alone there are more than 16 books published on business storytelling. It seems everyone is putting their hand up as an expert in this field.
For me there's one important test a business storytelling expert must past: when they talk about business storytelling they must actually tell stories. Or better yet, they must tell business stories.
This year I've sat through two, hour-long presentations by self proclaimed business storytelling experts who didn't tell a single story in their talk.
If you're working in business you should hear business stories all the time. I heard this one this week.
A large law firm had just spent considerable time and money training their partners to be better sales people. They were taught not to waste time on the small fish, to qualify early and move to the next opportunity quickly. No regrets.
On this particularly day some of the partners were running a big pitch and they decided at the last minute that it was essential to have the managing partner at the meeting. They called him and the managing partner said he would love to but he had already committed to meeting with a customer for lunch. The client was a new connection, a fairly small opportunity based in Malaysia. The partners did their best to persuade the managing partner to postpone his meeting but he said, "no, I've committed to this meeting and I will be having lunch with my Malaysian client."
Weeks later as one thing led to another the Malaysian client became the biggest new customer the firm that year.
If you want to brush up on how to spot a story I recommend you do our story test. Or just jump to how we define a story. By the way it's got nothing to do with protagonists overcoming challenges and hero's journeys.
DataDrivenJournalism.net is dedicated to providing anyone interested in getting started with data driven journalism with a collection of learning resources, including relevant events, tools, tutorials, interviews and case studies.
How do we best tell a data-driven story? What techniques should we use for presenting our data? As part of my Data Therapy project I've been helping community groups tell their data stories creatively for 5 years. Now journalists are asking me the same questions. This post explores some of the techniques I see emerging for journalists to tell their data-driven stories. I've bounced these ideas off the Boston Hacks & Hackers and the PenPlusBytes Bootcamp for student journalists, and I welcome your thoughts, suggestions and feedback.
Data-driven journalism is not a new thing. Journalism has a rich history and tradition of data collection, aggregation, validation and filtering. That said, I see three things changing the landscape right now:
1) The data has shifted from mostly qualitative to more quantitative;
2) The sheer volume of data we have access to has increased significantly;
3) There are more and more tools available to tell stories, leading to experimentation with new techniques.
These three trends have forced journalists, editors and the public to rethink the skills required to effectively tell stories. There are now people helping journalists get better at statistics to find stories in data. There are now people working with journalists to write code and build news apps. There are now people partnering with journalists to mine data to find stories. However, there aren't many people helping journalists figure out how to best to tell their data-driven stories. I'm trying to address that by explicitly listing specific techniques and their strengths.
Here are a handful of techniques I see emerging, each with an example. I hope these contribute to a larger conversation about patterns available to journalists for telling data-driven stories.
Let your Audience Explore
Present data to the audience in a way that lets them interactively explore to find stories they relate to.
The New York Times created an interactive graph to accompany their story about how people spend their day (based on the American Time Use Survey). They include filters (options you can click on to view subsets of the data) as an invitation to the reader to explore the dataset as it might relate to their own daily life. Creating exploratory interactive pieces can engage curious audiences. The field of data visualization is young, but mature enough to have a few standard tricks. One of these is to ensure that people looking at a large dataset have a way to project themselves into it, or compare themselves to it.
Explain with Pictures
Create an explanatory graphic to accompany your story.
Nigel Holmes has been creating "explanation graphics" for decades (we're calling these infographics now). Many of his graphics use cartoon techniques to explain data-driven stories. Graphic depictions of data stories are sometimes lampooned by the likes of Edward Tufte and data-density die-hards, but they are engaging and can be playful. Scott McCloud addresses many of the issues around these types of explanations wonderfully in his book Understanding Comics. This gives you an opportunity to walk readers visually through your story.
Create Striking images
Make a creative representation of your data to introduce your story.
Peter Orntoft took Danish survey data and created scenes to photograph that represented the survey data. For survey data about the wearing of religious symbols in public, he photographed religious symbols he had modified into physical representations of the survey results. Letting yourself have a little fun with representing your data can be an effective way to disarm your readers. It can break down assumptions they might have about the data or topic at hand. Plus, it's fun!
Share Your Investigation
Dig through large data sets to discover stories that you can tell in traditional "newspaper language".
ProPublica won a Pulitzer prize for their Magnetar Trade story. They sifted through massive datasets of financial records and found a compelling narrative about how this one company plotted to keep the housing bubble going, contributing to the financial crisis. This is one of the more traditional techniques on my list, building on the long tradition of investigative journalism. The key development I see here is sharing the journey through the data that led to the story. The idea that you can be more open about your process can lead to new relationships with your audience, engaging them as co-tellers of the data-driven story.
Advice on Picking a Technique
Should you build an exploratory news app? Should your story have an explanatory visualization? These are the hard questions. There are no firm rules about when to use each technique. I always suggest basing your choice on your audience and your goals. If you know your readers don't have lots of time, an exploratory web app isn't going to work for them. If you want to grab people's attention, an exciting image can quickly grab your reader's interest and give you time to hook them in. If your data tells a complex story about an issue unfamiliar to your readers, an explanatory graphic might help. These are just a few ideas about how to choose between techniques. Often you want to use more than one. What do you think? Is this type of list handy when you sit down to do your data-driven storytelling?
The South is caught in a low-skill/low-wage trap. But which came first: low skills or a low wage economy?
A Decade Behind projects the growth of jobs and education requirements in the southern U.S. over the coming decade. In the report, we find that 57% of all jobs in the South will require some form of postsecondary education or training, compared to 65% for the nation.
The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce is an independent, nonprofit research and policy institute that studies the link between education, career qualifications and workforce demands.
Nonprofits depend on successful outreach campaigns to survive. An new open source, free app could make it easier for nonprofits to tell their stories. Sparkwise is a new data visualization and outreach platform. Has anyone used it?
"An updated notion of genius would have to center around one's mastery of information and its dissemination."
"And your way, is it really
"An updated notion of genius would have to center around one’s mastery of information and its dissemination. Perloff has coined a term, moving information, to signify both the act of pushing language around as well as the act of being emotionally moved by that process. She posits that today’s writer resembles more a programmer than a tortured genius, brilliantly conceptualizing, constructing, executing, and maintaining a writing machine.
(Though, one might argue, information is only valuable when it’s synthesized into knowledge, which is then in turn transmuted into wisdom — so, perhaps, an even better concept would be moving wisdom.)"
Effective reporting is about finding the details that make your story pop. Here's what every communicator should do to make it happen.
Which headline is more compelling?
"Woman in bar assaulted by girlfriend after she waves to man"
"Woman in bar in sumo-wrestler suit assaulted by girlfriend after she waves to man dressed as Snickers bar"
I'll take the Snickers bar every time.
Effective reporting is about finding the details that make your story pop. Jim Ylisela, president and co-owner of Duff Media Partners, Inc. and speaker at Ragan's Corporate Writers and Editors Conference, outlines the nine details effective reporters should use to create powerful stories.
1. Be specific. People often get caught up in talking about the "grand vision" for a brand or company. It's obscure and not relatable. It doesn't evoke emotion. Ask questions to discover specific details about, say, the company's five-year plan and what it means to employees and the external audience.
2. Find the people.
Ylisela said he always makes friends with secretaries because "they know where the bodies are buried." He doesn't suggest you play detective, but there's something to be said for knowing the people who have the inside scoop on company happenings.
3. Be clear.
Ah, jargon. It's the bane of every corporate communicator's existence. Avoid it like the plague.
4. Recognize that it's a three-way conversation.
Remember that reporting is not simply you relaying a message to your audience. It's a conversation. Use a conversational tone. Your message reaches your audience, may come back to you, and then will—hopefully—be disseminated via social media or another avenue.
5. Know the difference between "down and dirty" and "deep dive" stories
Down and dirty: These are the quick stories you should focus on getting out quickly, like timely news, alerts, and calls to action. Don't spend unnecessary time crafting these pieces.
Deeper dives: These stories have more context and background—more storytelling, humans and channels. These are the stories to spend more time on.
6. Know the history.
Before you conduct an interview, do your homework. Research your topic. Google is a wonderful tool.
7. Ask the right questions.
While it's good to prepare questions, you can't be ruled by them. Follow someone down a blind alley or path. The tangent might be the story.
8. Get past the smarmy stuff.
It's obvious when a story is trying to emphasize the glory of a company or CEO. Get the sales guy to talk about failures and successes. Work through platitudes. Find the stories and make connections.
9. Embrace the numbers.
Believe it or not, numbers can be your friends. Find drama and urgency behind the numbers. How do they affect real people?
by AJ George If you need to create an Infographic, there are better programs than PowerPoint that you could use. Photoshop would be a good choice, or maybe Fireworks. That being said, PowerPoint is likely on your office computer right...
Laura Hanen, MPP, head of government and public affairs at NACCHO, started off the session by reminding the attendees, most of them staff at health departments, that getting attention is especially important now when funding is declining. “There is a perception that health reform will fix everything and there won’t be as much need to pump funding into public health,” Hanen said.
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