Content and Community Q&A (Part 1)Submitted by John Beale on Thu, 2012-08-02 12:38
We all know that content and community management is a sought after skill. Brands are now starting to realize that it plays an incredibly important role, and not just anyone can do it. That being said, these guys are also on the frontline dealing with fans and followers on a daily basis. Its not easy out there, so I chatted to two of Cerebra’s Content guys, Reece Jacobsen and Leyash Pillay, to find out how they cope, and their tricks of the trade:
1. You’re the custodian to several large communities in South Africa, and we’re a multicultural country - we have 11 National languages for heaven’s sake! Do you think South Africa is unique in the way fans and followers interact on social media?
R: I think it’s unique in the same ways that South African people like to braai instead of BBQ. In terms of the interaction with brands on social media platforms, I feel it’s pretty much the same all over the globe – People want to engage to receive help, show brand love, enter competitions and be a part of the lifestyle.
Sure the language, terminology and personality of our fans is one of a kind, but at the end of the day it all comes down to the same core reasons to engage with a brand online.
L: I think South Africa’s history and its progression after democracy plays the big role. Most of us have been raised knowing that our voices are something to be valued. Now we have a public platform that is easily accessible at anytime from any place where our voice, if the community is managed well, will be heard.
2. SA is also unique in terms of its mobile penetration; how are you structuring your content to benefit the majority of the audience that access social media channels through mobile?
R: I try and make it as easy as possible for fans and followers of my accounts to receive the information we’re giving them. Facebook tabs aren’t accessible via mobile yet, and until they are, we have to cater to the mobile users separately. As often as possible, I will give web and mobi links in updates.
For Twitter, I generally use the mobi link. Who uses Twitter for web anyway, right?
We’re unique in the fact that a lot of people here missed the whole ‘connecting to the mysterious universe via the big computer thingy-ma-bob’ so mobile the only way the majority of South Africans have ever experienced the web. It would be silly to ignore them.
L: The first sentence is key. It’s better to gouge out the reader’s eyes with amazingness. When we’re on our phones we really don’t want to read every single update or link posted up. We skim read until something stands out, yet content consumers don’t always follow through with taking advantage of the apparent value offered.
I think about whom I’m speaking to and tell them what I want them to get out of it straight away. I’m not targeting everyone in the community with every update, so I make sure I tailor content specifically to the ones I want to gain value from it.
Images take up majority of a mobile screen so, even if it’s just a second, the reader’s attention is focused on an image that not only explains the copy, but also makes them want to read the copy.
I look at it from a content-design point of view, rather than aesthetic-design. Aside from images, copy is the main focus and linguistics becomes a factor that I take into consideration all the time, mobile or not.
3. People talk about the holy-grail that is a “self-moderating community”. Explain this for those of us who don’t know what that’s about?
R: Imagine a world with no government. No written laws, no police, no micro-management. Now imagine that world still managed to function at 100%. That is the holy grail of a self-moderating community. Community members would be able to help each other out, post relevant content and have a thought-provoking debate without getting out of hand. It would be a social media utopia.
L: It’s a community that mimics the workings of a community in the real world. People helping people. It’s fans and followers helping each other out with minimal mediation from the community manager.
Look at it this way - In “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” there is a lifeline option that let’s you ask the audience members for help in solving the question or problem at hand. Although the audience does not gain the same value as the person in the hot seat does, by helping him or her out, they know that their assistance will be appreciated and they can feel good about themselves afterwards. We want to feel good, no? By a simple act of offering a helping hand, everyone becomes happy in this situation. The show franchise can be compared to the social platform in this case, the question is the wall post, and the keypads on which the audience votes is the comment box. The host of the show is the community manager who sits back in this instance and has minimal involvement, only posing the initial question.
A self-moderating community shows hints of itself from time to time but a community manager’s touch is still required to keep the fire burning until fans are confident enough to create and sustain conversation.
4. Sometimes fans self-moderate towards the negative. What do you do when fans bring up a negative aspect about the brand, you ban them right?
R: Wrong. As much as I’d like to sometimes, it’s just not good practice. It’s no good for a brand to go out of their way to put themselves in the spaces their customers are hanging out online (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc) and then hide when the going gets tough. You’ve got to be able to handle it. In all honesty, I relish those kinds of challenges.
L: “I don’t like your tone! Get off my property!”, said no self-respecting community manager… ever. What’s the point of being on social media if you’re not willing to listen to the conversation being directed at you, good or bad!
At first I couldn’t understand why people would be so rude when looking for a solution. It struck me when I had an issue with a brand and I said out loud, “I should tweet about it!” I naturally put myself in the fan’s shoes and thought about how I wanted it to be dealt with. This is what it taught me:
- Read the person’s bio/profile. Who are they online?
- Have a look at their timeline to help speak in a tone that they’re used to. Matching a person’s personality helps build rapport.
- Lighten the situation, but only if it calls for it. Sometimes that joking punch on the arm will get you a punch in the face.
- Offer the solution. If there is none, go and find one!
Essentially, I’m letting them know that I understand that they’re frustrated (they want the wrath in their words to be felt). I have taken the kettle off the boil and it’s cooling down. Resolving their problem is the easy part - Fix it in a way that’s the quickest and easiest for them. If they can see that I’m genuinely trying to help they tend to accept the offered solution more willingly.
5. What’s your general rule of thumb when you’re dealing with an angry fan/follower?
R: Be respectful. Be helpful. Be human.
L: I don’t reckon I have one. Everyone is different and each angry person must be treated in a slightly different way. If I had to pick, I’d say show that you’re human and show that you understand what they’re going through. They just want to be heard.