Celebrate Community Manager Appreciation Day With Tips From Expert Community Managers

Today is Community Manager Appreciation Day, and we wanted to honor all the work Yammer community managers do daily. It’s their vision, hard work and passion that turns communities from fledgling to thriving. Without further ado, here are the community superstars themselves. Check out their stories and pro tips:

Meet Ashley Gross

I am the Marketing Manager at Rural Sourcing, Inc.’s, where I oversee all external and internal marketing efforts. When my company approached me with a request to take on the additional role as Community Manager, I saw an opportunity to build a legacy I could look back on and be proud of. As a long-time social media advocate, I immediately knew that an Enterprise Social Network would take our company’s internal communications to the next level. We have now grown from 40 to 115 members and achieved 94% engagement.  To say it’s been an exciting journey is an understatement.  It has created a sense of one-unified organization, though we are spread across different offices and states.

Ashley’s tips:

  • Keep it Simple: A general tip I like to always keep in mind is to “keep it simple” (or KISS). If you over-complicate a post or a response, it is very easy for something to get lost in translation. Keeping the message simple ensures that you are reaching the maximum people possible, and are more likely to receive action.
  • Guide Executives to actively engage:  When working with execs, outline a weekly schedule. Executives’ time is precious; when you give them a specific time of day to post or spend 30 minutes responding to others, they are more likely to follow through, engage, and turn the pattern into a routine.
  • It’s a Marathon, not a Sprint: The journey to network-wide adoption and engagement is a marathon, not a sprint. Some networks will catch on right away but most will need constant massaging and planning and occasional engagement events. Don’t get frustrated or give up if you don’t see the engagement numbers you were hoping for right away; they will come.

Meet Dawn Gartin

I am the Collaboration Manager at Manhattan Associates Inc., which means that I  help my Company to define and execute collaboration strategies.  Prior to joining Manhattan, I provided consultative services to a variety of companies focusing on building community by advancing communication and collaboration.

I am  inspired by the future possibilities the advancements in technology will give to companies all around the world.  In recent years, I became fascinated with ‘real time’ delivery and instant satisfaction.  With the advancement of mobile and the open API concepts, I could see all kinds of possibilities in the world of marketing, training and beyond. Social continues to change, and having a dedicated person to keep her pulse on the movement is imperative.My role as a Community Manager is “building the foundation of new business teamwork.

Dawn’s tip: Social is a PARTY – as a Community Manager you need to Plan, Act, Reply Test and You Measure

Meet Rashida Powell

I am the internal communications leader at Cbeyond where I develop communication strategies that connect employees with business goals, drive behaviors and increase engagement on social enterprise tools.

I am passionate about anything facilitating communication, and Enterprise Social Networks do just that.  I am excited by the challenge of keeping people engaged through the training and strategies I deliver to Cbeyond.  In addition, the opportunity to help keep a human element in the workplace for my colleagues is an important aspect of my role where I directly contribute to improving the lives of those around me.

Rashida’s Tips:

  • Start with strategy: The first thing many people think of when they think of  social media is: FUN. But when used strategically, these tools are more than just fun; strategy helps us tie what we do into the company’s business goals and accomplishments. Create a strategy for everything you do as a community manager, and make sure your activities align with and support the company’s overall objectives.
  • Build relationships offline: Being a community manager requires a lot of energy and personality, and it’s important to keep that energy and personality going when interacting with people in person – especially if they know you are the voice behind the tools. When they interact with you in person, people are often searching for that same persona they get from you online.
  • Know a little about a lot: As a community manager you engage in so many conversations. Some are work related, and some are not. It makes it easier to steer and participate in conversations when you have a wide breadth of knowledge to draw from.

Meet Lori Kasserman

My name is Lori Kasserman, and I am a corporate communicator at Southern Company, one of the largest generators of electricity in the nation. My work is focused on driving the company’s use of social media and developing and delivering digital content for internal and external audiences. In addition to being the voice of the company’s social accounts, I am also community manager of the company’s Yammer network.

I have worked at Southern Company for over a decade, and Yammer is the first tool that allows employees to make connections across geographic boundaries. Seeing these connections – over and over is what continues to inspire me and my work. I can better understand issues and relate to employee concerns. Externally, it makes me a better representative of our company culture.

Lori’s tips:

  • Don’t control the conversation, enable it. 
  • Passion is paramount. Whether internal or external – your community manager is the living, breathing symbol of your brand. It’s essential that the community manager cares about your company, understands key issues, and follows industry trends.

Meet Josephine Murfey

My name is Josephine Murfey, and I am the Knowledge Manager at Hall & Wilcox  Lawyers.  We are a medium sized law firm, based in a single building (although  spread out over 5 separarte floors and 3 different lift wells) in Melbourne,  Australia. My  colleague Chris Warburton and I were given the  project of rolling out Yammer to our entire organisation. You can read more  about the rollout  here

After the  rollout dust settled, I discovered I was a Community Manager. If I  knew then, what I know now, I would have tried to get more training  happening at the very early stages. It  would have been useful to do more one-to-one training with people in the early  stages, as it would have helped to talk to some people about Yammer on a more  personal level.

Josephine’s tips:

  • Praise is a really great way to get some groups  engaged with Yammer.  We have found a couple of our practice areas are almost  exclusively using Yammer with the Praise feature, and it is almost s challenge  to see who can praise team members first.
  • I often sit in meetings and draw a line down  the middle of my paper.  One side of the page is for notes from the meeting, and  the other side of the page is for information I’ve picked up in the meeting that  could / should be posted on Yammer.  I then follow up with the right people and  ask / encourage them to post themselves or @ tag them in a post I write  myself.
  • YCN (Yammer Customer Network) is crucial to get support from other  Community Managers and try out ideas and proposals and suggestions.  It’s like a  testing ground and a support group all rolled into one.  And its a fabulous  example of how a network can look and feel and be run… and it’s managed by  some fantastic Community Managers, which menas you can learn a lot from watching  them too!!!

Meet Nicky Hayward-Wright

My name is Nicky Hayward-Wright, and I am  the Senior Advisor Knowledge Management at GS1 Australia which employees 130 people.  A key focus of my role is mobilising information and knowledge across GS1 Australia to build business capability – so I straddle many disciplines such as organisational learning development, strategic human resources management, information management, internal communications, change management, information technology and library services. I’d also include gardening and herding as other activities I’ve undertaken to get the job done!

When I started at GS1 Australia, one business unit was already using Yammer; however it was important to take a step back and align this with the business strategy prior to rolling out widely. Our Yammer vision supports internal and external communication, collaboration,  and information and knowledge exchange. Additionally, the sense of community fosters a positive organisational culture, including better staff engagement and team spirit, and the one organisation mentality (One GS1). To make all this happen you need someone who is taking on a key role in managing (nurturing) the community – moi!

Nicky’s tips:

  • The activity I wished I’d started early is collecting, publishing and promoting to users, in particular managers and influencers, stories of how people in GS1 Australia are using Yammer to support business activities and to showcase business value and ‘what’s in it for me’.
  • You must have patience! It doesn’t matter how much planning and engagement you do, people will do things in their own way and time – they need to play, learn and experience the ‘what’s in it for me’ to become really engaged.
  • Remember you are not alone in your journey as a community manager. The generosity of members of the Yammer Customer Network and Yammer U in sharing their knowledge and resources is mind blowing. Ask and you shall receive!
  • Take a balanced approach to managing your network(s). As we are a small organisation we decided to take a formal and planned approach to the whole of business rollout.. At the same time I have encourage the organic and serendipitous evolution of Yammer combined with a top down and bottom up approach.
  • The P5 (People, Purpose, Pathway, Planning, Persistence) from Change Management Toolbox is a great framework to assist with your rollout. It’s about engaging with people, ensuring appropriate assessment of stakeholder needs, clarifying what you want to accomplish, detailing a strategy and linking with planning for how things are done, and persistence focused on continued growth.
  • Think long term in relation to managing and mining the content of your network for business value and plan now. Develop some standard practices around naming of content and encourage the use of topics to help quickly filter content from across your network.
  • Get executives engaged who are reticent about enterprise social media by facilitating meetings with engaged C levels from similar organisations. Get your Executive Sponsor to promote the business value created by using Yammer through use case stories. Set up a private Yammer group for the C level to play in and when they are ready, create the ‘Executive Suite’ public group, where they can engage with the business.

Meet Jennifer Thorimbert

I am the community manager for Disney, working with several social business tools within the enterprise. My favourite part of the job is working with teams and individuals to talk about their workflow and goals, and then offering a solution to make them more effective and engaged in their work. My personal goal is to eliminate email within the enterprise within 5 years – I believe this is possible with tools like Yammer.

I think many CMs start out as power users within their network, and eventually create a CM role out of that passion and interest. I just applied for a job the old-fashioned way. 😉 I had previously been a CM in a smaller Disney segment, and was excited to see a position that didn’t tie me and my users to one solution, allowing me to work through individual teams’ goals and workflow to find the best solution for their unique needs

Jennifer’s tips:

A few things that I have learned:

  • An exec saying they support something is not enough – they need to actually use it, too.
  • A little bit of hand-holding can go a long way.
  • Conversation starters end in questions, not in statements. (Simple, but confusing for many new users trying to get activity going in their groups!)

This Simon Sinek TED Talk sums up the approach that I take when onboarding new users and positioning Yammer and our other social tools. We have a big job: to change the way that people work. That’s not easy, and the excuses of “I have no time” are true. If we understand users’ Why, and know the benefit people will see in their workflow, productivity, and engagement at work, they be willing to learn new things and make time for them. My best tip is to understand the Why for every user, team, department, and then help them with the What and the How.

Meet Angus Heslop

My name is Angus Heslop, and I work with on strategy and marketing in the global capital markets area at the National Australia Bank (NAB). I am also passionate about social media and design. On top of my normal role, I also do all the communications, design, media and marketing for the graduate cohort (90 graduates) at NAB. I created this external network to give graduates a safe space to share ideas, ask ‘dumb’ questions, tell stories, arrange graduate events and organise initiatives.

NAB’s uptake of Yammer has been very organic, and although we didn’t have a lot of the resources in the beginning, it has allowed us to experiment and trial new initiatives to increase Yammer engagement, some of which have been used by Yammer with other clients.

Angus’ tips:

  • I have learnt the importance of giving people very clear, easy-to-follow instructions on signing up and using Yammer. One thing we have been trialling is a 10 day plan, which is overseen by a ‘Yammer mentor’. The plan involves going through a series of Yammer milestones day-by-day — signing up, following colleagues, updating a profile, liking a post…and all the way to becoming a regular contributor!
  • It’s necessary to have a few vocal and visible Yammer ambassadors to encourage other users, so it’s not just you as the administrator doing it all (which has the propensity to create switch-off).
  • People will only go Yammer if it has interesting content; information on Yammer must be tangible to people’s day-to-day roles for them to get online. It’s not enough to have a leader talk about future strategy, because this will quickly create switch-off, it there’s no information that affects people’s day to day work lives.
  • It is crucial to have support from the top. People will be more likely to Yammer if they see their leader Yammering. This can combat negative perceptions of Yammer as ‘Facebook for work.’

Happy Community Manager Appreciation Day to all! You guys are the stewards, educators, coaches, storytellers, anthropologists, curators (and sometimes “cat herders”). Your sense of passion and strength to keep pushing through are amazing. In many ways, you are the heart and soul of your communities. We appreciate you today, and every day!

We know how taxing the job can be, and that oftentimes there isn’t the right education or funding. We created this Community Playbook as a collection of best practices from our own community and the larger industry to help guide community managers in their efforts. Happy CMAD!