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Social media skills pt 8: Understanding your long-term social media plans


Growing your social media following will require you to manage it well. Colette Mason provides some tips. 

At this stage in our series of social media lessons you might wonder how you’re going to manage your following as you grow it, so here are some things you might want to consider.

Patience is a virtue

The social media strategist needs the patience and calmness of a mother of multiple young children, if there is such a species as a patient and calm mother of multiple small children. A sense of humor is paramount to dealing with both young children and an online community. 

"In your community there will be at least one user who is always online, a good commenter who is always on the ball and appropriate. These users are ideal candidates to be promoted to comment moderators."

Learn that everything that happens on the internet is soon replaced by something new within a few minutes, just as the newly painted Mickey Mouse on the fridge door is soon washed off. Mickey on the fridge door is no big deal and neither are most things that happen online. The world carries on regardless. 

Keep your distance

All too often the "I am responsible for it all" social media manager will jump in too quickly to interfere when a conversation may be better left to simmer for a while.

No one likes to feel they are being watched and monitored constantly. Certain interactions online need to take place. It is healthy and normal for people to get off topic, for self-interested whiners and complainers to be exposed and side chats to go on and all this can happen perfectly well without the social media addict that is the community manager interfering or monitoring 24/7.

Take a break from the addiction, let them get on with it and clean up anything that needs cleaning up in the morning. It’s a good idea to pre-determine how long you expect to spend managing your profiles, then setting an alarm to go off to make sure you stay focused and don’t waste time surfing and checking out what you’re personal friends are up to.

You don’t have to respond to everything

When you’re doing social media marketing, naturally you can’t listen to all the feedback that comes from users through the multiple communication channels, let alone try to respond to it all. Given there are only 24 hours in a day and you do still desire some sort of life offline, the community manager needs to filter out the users sending in minor complaints and respond to the users with more important issues regarding the user experience.

The minor where did my smiley icon go complaints will usually take care of themselves or can be helped by another user so keeping your time for more important issues.

Make an appearance

If you work in the world of social media and you are the designated face for your brand and community you have a responsibility to your users to show your physical face at some point. If staging a live meeting, a video chat or conference session both you and other ambassadors for your brand need to be truly visible.

People need to see your face in relation to your brand. Don’t make the mistake of just being a logo or a photo – be a real person. Get out there and network in real life too.

All your fans are equal and some are not more equal than others

Intimidating, arrogant, overly-entitled, the power user is also a great resource and can make your job easier, but care should be taken to treat the quieter user with the same respect letting them know too that their contributions are just as valuable while encouraging them to interact more.

Just as a mother will encourage the quieter child to join in the games to help the child grow and be able to socially interact outside the nest, you need to use your skills and influence to enable all your users to contribute the same amount of quality interaction and not give all your attention to the louder power users.

You’ve got a friend

In your community there will be at least one user who is always online, a good commenter who is always on the ball and appropriate. These users are ideal candidates to be promoted to comment moderators. Also in the user community there will be one always welcoming to the newbie, make them the newbie ambassador.

Give them training and responsibilities, guidelines and extra perks which will in turn allow you more time for seeking out new ways to enhance and expand your community. Managers delegate, and people love feeling they have a responsibility towards other users.

Step away from the command center occasionally

Seek out and test any tools you are able to find to enable you to still do your job and be offline and away from your desktop. Scheduled email responses, sending tweets, checking statistics are jobs that can be easily automated to work while you’re not are okay once you’ve got into a regular routine and you know where the boundaries are.

You are not optimised for as much uptime as your sites are designed to be and even an addicted community manager needs to sleep or go on vacation occasionally. Just be careful you don’t automate things too much – keep in mind no-one wants to talk to a robot.

The good news is you’ve completed your lessons now – next week I’ll be putting together some closing thoughts for you to sum up what we’ve learned together.

The social media skills series so far:

Colette Mason runs an international online consultancy which shows businesses and entrepreneurs how to use the internet and social media to boost their business online. With an IT background, which started in support and development and moving on to usability and online marketing techniques, she has worked on some of the biggest projects in Europe. Colette is also author of Social Media Success in 7 Days. For more information please visit:


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