is so passionate about managing online communities that she's written a book about it (see my disclosure below). 18 Rules of Community Engagement
is due out later this month and includes many of the best practices that Angela has honed in her position at WRAL over the last two years. She offers a peak into that work below in the latest installment of our Managing Communities 2009
series. Angela Connor
* Managing editor of user-generated content at GOLO
, the online community
for Raleigh, NC-based WRAL.com
* Twitter ID: @CommunityGirl
* Blog: Online Community Strategeist
Day-to-day role and responsibilities
My position is in the New Media division under Creative Services and Product Development. I develop initiatives and strategies to drive user and community engagement and actively participate in the community with the goal of cultivating relationships with users.
I am responsible for engaging our community of nearly 11,0000 members, increasing that membership, and providing vision and long-range planning and direction for all content areas while highlighting the best of our community-generated content.
I also oversee the user-generated content efforts of WRAL.com, developing community management and abuse policies and supervising a team that moderates comments on news stories. It is likely that I have more contact with viewers/users/readers than anyone else in the organization, and that requires a mound of patience, understanding, and tact.
I work closely with the sales team, suggesting unique advertising opportunities; I also execute online and offline events to drive engagement and build excitement about the product. I am an advocate for users and the face of the community.
I approach my role differently on a daily basis, because no day is like any other. Strategies work for long-term planning, but much of what it takes to succeed in this role is spontaneity.
While I may have a long-term strategy for tripling the number of image galleries over a given period, the way I go about that may change on a day-to-day basis and essentially has to, based on the ebb and flow of the community. I may solicit garden photos one day and baby pictures the next, and then we might have a monster snowstorm like we did recently and receive hundreds of weather-related images. When you're working to engage the public, there is no one-size-fits-all method, and this position is not for the person who cannot think on his or her feet and roll with the punches. It is very rewarding, yet very challenging.
Key skills needed for community managers
This job is not for the faint of heart or anyone whose feathers ruffle easily. You have to be passionate about the community, enjoy interacting, and have a creative spirit that can see you through the droughts. Patience and tolerance are high on the list, and the ability to churn out content and make connections is key.
A certain level of maturity is needed, too, as an impulsive community manager without a level head can represent the organization quite poorly in the heat of the moment or when emotions run high. All it takes is a click of the "send" button!
When I hire moderators for the news site, I require a moderators exam. During this exam, they are exposed to some of the worst comments that have been submitted. I look for the content that was submitted but never actually posted, just to gauge their reactions. If advising clients, I would tell them to make sure they are hiring someone who can handle it all. The cloak of anonymity in a community is powerful, and what goes on behind the scenes isn't always pretty. A community manager needs a cool, level head and an understanding of the human psyche.
(Managing Communities 2009
is a series of profiles on online community professionals.) Disclosure:
I helped connect Angela to the publisher of her forthcoming book. But really, all I did was make an e-mail introduction. It was Angela's talent and hard work that made the book happen.