Old Friend, New Lesson: A Big Picture of Community Management

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Old Friend, New Lesson: A Big Picture of Community Management

Photo by Chanita Chayaluk

Today I had the pleasure of meeting with Joe Piehl, a good friend from high school. I last saw Joe at the Marquette University High School class of 2004 commencement ceremony. I met him during the summer before freshmen year of high school because we were both part of the football team (he was the manager, I played center). By junior year, I had convinced him to hold Starburst that I would eat throughout the game to keep my palate from drying out (long story).

After meeting for coffee today, I learned that he is currently a Senior Account Executive in Digital at Weber Shandwick. Upon hearing this, my digital obsession took over and we nerded it out for the next hour. As it turns out, Joe had a pretty typical start in PR that happened to come just after Facebook opened up to the general, non-university public. As the platform exploded, Joe began developing content for his clients to use on their social media accounts. Ever since, this guy has been implementing digital strategies for some of the world’s largest brands.

Toward the end of the conversation, Joe took the entire community management concept and simplified it in a way that struck me a little. I mean, it isn’t anything revolutionary or even new for that matter. Intuitively, you already know exactly what I’m about to tell you and maybe you’ll think I’m crazy, but for me, it just clicked.

Community Management & A Bag of Peanuts

How often do you get in a plane and take a look at your community management strategy from 30,000 feet? As digital marketers, we often find ourselves throwing around all kinds of buzzwords like social media, SEO, infographics, CTR, video, likes, bounce rate, followers, syndication and connections. We combine these to create strategies that engage and delight communities of interest. But strategies quickly become thousands of separate pieces and can be hard to grasp mentally. Too often, we step back and wrongfully assume that ROI, revenue, likes or followers are the big picture, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

Today when Joe’s said: “Community management can be broken down into three categories, content, engagement and analytics”, my thinking shifted. That’s it. No acronym or memory device, just an easy to understand digital trinity. How simple is that? By compartmentalizing all tactics and tools into one of these bins, we can judge the health of each master element and thus gain a clearer picture of our efforts. I understand that arguments can be made for additional compartments or slightly different segments, but the point is that we all need to take a step back every once in a while and create a more relevant big picture.

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