Australian Community Managers Survey 2015

Numbers make me happy. Numbers about groups of people make me especially happy. Numbers about groups of people that include me? Even better!

That’s why the results of the benchmark 2015 Australian Community Managers Survey was of particular interest to me.

I think some people underestimate the power that community management has over a brand's identity in this increasingly digital and social world.

The survey was commissioned by Dialogue Consulting, SWARM community management conference co-founder Venessa Paech and Quiip, Australia’s leading social media and online community management company, to investigate the state of the professional online community management sector and its practitioners who build, manage and support online communities. The results delivered in spades.

It has revealed a highly educated work force under pressure, with four in 10 earning less than the national average despite long working hours that sees half working more than a five day week. But, beyond that, it also highlighted a number of issues needing resolution:

  • Approximately 40% of  survey respondents earned less than the national average.

  • 43% of respondents are working more than five days a week,. Almost one in 10 (30 of 262 respondents) work seven days a week, with three in four (77%) work more than an eight-hour day.

  • Despite the 24/7 nature of social media and online communities, less than one in five respondents said their organisation provided around the clock monitoring. Eight in 10 (82%) said their organisation conducted moderation within business hours, with at least some out of hours.

  • While almost all organisations collected metrics around their communities, four in 10 respondents said only some of their communities had a defined purpose – and one-third of those that had a purpose had no formal strategy in place.

So, why does this matter to me? Why am I writing about it? Well, for starters, it shows that there is a lack of understanding in this field. Organisations are realising the need to hire community and social media professionals to help support their brands, but lack the knowledge to harness, utilise and support this highly educated and, to be perfectly frank, freaking awesome group of professionals. It’s just another case of something shiny and new being brought on board without a clear plan for optimising the workforce.

If you’d like to obtain a copy of the report for yourself, you can do so at the ACM website.

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Facebook = Internet… or does it?

Michael Wolf, of Activate fame, said recently that Facebook wants to be the internet. He was, of course, referring to a deal between the social media giant and Oculus VR. The question is: How is it going to achieve it?

Img credit: Rishi Bandopadhay on Flickr.com

Img credit: Rishi Bandopadhay on Flickr.com

The internet, and by extension the web, has become central to our day-to-day existence. We use it to communicate with our friends, family and colleagues. We use it to access information that might otherwise elude us. It’s the first thing we think to turn to when it comes to the ever-present question, “What will I make for dinner?” In fact, with the Internet of Things invading our appliances, the day is not too far away that we see the Internet becoming the single most integral element in our everyday life outside of air, food and water.

Facebook sees itself at the centre of this brave new world. Its active hunting and acquisition of smaller companies offering something it wants is just one part of the strategy to offer everything online in just one place.

The Facebook wall has taken over what websites like LiveJournal and MySpace once offered, with Facebook Messenger giving us what Skype can. It’s not creating new opportunities, but more an act of integrating existing offerings and sticking a shiny new Facebook blue badge on it. Games can even be played in Messenger as well! Where will it end?

In Australia, you can now have your memorial online with Facebook. Not even your end will mean an end to your social media presence.

All this plugging in to your general life has left some people concerned.

Some critics of Facebook’s Internet.org say that attempts to provide free internet access to emerging markets by the world’s largest social media platform threatens “…freedom of expression, equality of opportunity, security, privacy and innovation.

Long time readers of this blog and my Twitter feed will know that I am a believer in keeping the net neutral (amongst other things). Now, I’m not saying that Facebook is evil. There are plenty of other people who have written on that subject. All I’m saying is that, as with any form of technology, there are things to be considered when you’re delving into the realm of social media.

A Simple Comment to a Video…

or Why You Don’t Ask An Internet Communications Student For A Comment On A Video Off YouTube, Because You Might Just Get What You Asked For (but that was too long for a title on my blog, so you get the simplified version).

So, it appears I cannot retire my “political hat” any time soon. If you haven’t seen it yet, here is a link from the Vice Chancellor of Curtin University, Professor Terry. All in all, it’s a good delivery of an update on the goings on around campus and what she is doing to keep up-to-date with the various campuses. I, however, have the following email which I am about to send to the Vice Chancellor, as per her invitation for comments.

And now for my extensively long comment. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Dear Professor Terry,

Thank you so much firstly for posting your video on YouTube, and for inviting comments. It is rare to hear someone in an actual position of authority openly ask for, and encourage feedback in such an engaging medium as the Web.

I was happy to hear you speak of the restructuring of the academic teaching system within Curtin University. As a current student, completing my Honours thesis this year with a view to going forward to higher degrees by research in order to join academia and the teaching profession, it is a relief to hear that you will not be cutting numbers of teaching staff. I do, however, offer my story as a view from the other side of the fence that you may not have considered in the implementation of these changes.

I began my undergraduate degree as an Open University’s Australia student, not because I wasn’t as committed to my studies as on campus students but because, as a mature aged, single parent student without high school completion dependant on public transport who was working full time in order to make ends meet, it afforded me the best possible opportunity to fit me life and study together in the same 24 hours everyone else had.

When I made the realisation that this degree I had undertaken was giving me a more rounded sense of accomplishment and personal pride than almost anything else I had undertaken, I decided that I would be furthering my studies. The staff of the department with which I was studying afforded me every opportunity to obtain the necessary information, facilitated my education with a shared passion for the learning material and concepts of study that I thought were a myth amongst academics.

This department was that of Internet Studies, out of the school of Media, Culture and Creative Arts at Curtin University – a group of academics whom I owe a great debt of gratitude and thank no end for the development of a lifelong love of learning.

This inspiration is, I’m afraid, in spite of almost being erased from the history books due to a proposed cancellation of on campus enrolments last year. This move would have seen the end of this department – the first and only dedicated Internet Studies department in Australia. The students of this department lead and won the fight to retain the opportunity to attend on campus classes, despite opposition from the chancellory of the university, through online and offline means of protest.

But my story does not stop here.

As a current Honours student in the Arts, I have seen more uncertainty regarding the offerings to students already this year than I feel is acceptable. This is absolutely through no fault of the teaching and support staff who have done the very best with what they have had available.

I am attending classes on campus, having made arrangements with my family and employer, as an off campus option has not been made available to students this year. I have been lead to understand that this is due to a revision and restructuring of the unit material and teaching method. This, in spite of having been offered as an off campus study stream in previous years.

Class timetables were finally made available to students, in order to select the  days and times of their classes, only a few days before the beginning of the semester. We then received automated confirmation that our chosen times and days would be made available, only to be told the following week that they were not, and that the classes would be combined and only available on a single day of the week. Thankfully for me, I have a moderately flexible employer who understood that these changes to my schedule were not under my control.

We were then told, just a few weeks later, that the previously possible day and time for class to be held was still available and that the consensus of the class would be the deciding factor as to whether or not the day and time of our compulsory-attendance class would be changed in the middle of the first term. While it only took a matter of an hour or so for the decision to be made by the students that keeping the current day and time would be best, the moments of panic were felt by more than just myself, I can assure you.

I was probably not the only student who felt that continuing studying would be jeopardised if the class were to change circumstances again.

I was probably not the only student who felt that their employer might not be so understanding if study circumstances were to change again.

I was probably not the only student panicking that the Honours we had invested ourselves in might be taken away from us before we had the opportunity to really get started.

What I do know for certain is, I am the only student from my department currently studying Honours with Curtin University. Why? An unofficial poll of my fellow online students puts this down to the inability of enrolling off campus.

With so many Internet Studies students currently enrolled in off campus or online only study of the Internet Communications degree, it makes no sense to not have this further education offered online if, as you say, numbers of teaching staff have not been reduced.

It makes no sense to not offer Honours online or off campus, especially with the fine online access to Curtin Library resources we now have available.

It makes no sense to not offer Honours online or off campus with the degree of control and interaction possible through the Blackboard system, which served as my lecture, seminar and tutorial space for three years quite sufficiently.

It makes no sense to not offer Honours online or off campus, when the Internet Studies department of Curtin university have shown that this mode of study facilitation can create future scholars that will, one day, make Curtin University proud.

This, Professor Terry, is why I find it difficult to believe that the current restructuring at Curtin University has no negative impact on the numbers of teaching staff available to students of Curtin University. I have seen the ability of the teaching staff of Curtin University to traverse space and time to deliver a world-class degree second to none in the world. I have also seen the trials of trying to deal with university bureaucracy when staffing changes, restructuring, budget cuts, reforms and proposed denial of access take place.

Please, if you want to be sure that these staffing changes hold no negative impact for the students of Curtin University, both current and future, I suggest you ask the current students if they are seeing any ramifications from the initial changes today. You may be surprised to hear what they have to tell standing in direct opposition to what the numbers and figures suggest.

I may be just one student telling my story today, but this is not my story alone.

Many thanks for your time,

Melissa Nile.
– current Honours student of B.A. (Internet Communications)

 

TL;DR:

I didn’t write all that so you could cheat and look for the Brodie’s Notes (and if you don’t know what they are, you’re too young!) version of my email. Go read it! And get off my lawn!

Show Me The Money!

Social Media ROISeeing the return on investment for social media can be difficult if you’re not sure what you should be looking at in your analysis or metrics. If you’re looking for the wrong things, there can be missed opportunities to capture a new target audience, or to fix your existing social media strategy to make better use of your time online. Here are some tips on how to measure real ROI for your social media work.

So what is it that social media can offer you? Forget about “increased loyalty” and the like. We want things we can actually measure.

  • Increased retention of your existing customers. Engaging with, and keeping, the clients you already have is cheaper, by far, than having to get new clients all the time. Building a sense of community around your brand online is a way to keep them engaged with your business and make them feel that you are engaged with them on more than a simply professional level.

  • Increased repeat purchases. Converting those likes and retweets into sales and referrals might be tricky at first, but once your clients get into the habit of spending money with you, they will keep doing so for as long as there is value in it for them.

  • Reduced marketing costs. Even if you’re paying to promote your posts on facebook, or for pay per click advertising, it can still work out to be significantly cheaper than more traditional methods of advertising. Money you save on marketing can be put to use elsewhere in the business, or on wage increases for your staff.

  • Feedback. People are only too happy to tell you what they think from the safety and comfort of their computer. They are less likely to give you criticism in a face to face situation or a written survey. Take the opportunity to ask your online community what they think about ideas, or if there was something they weren’t 100% happy with during the last transaction. No print costs, no phone bill, and free useful feedback – it’s a win-win situation.

  • Reduced customer service costs. If you have one person employed solely to answer the questions coming in on the phones, why not get that person online instead? It’s faster, cheaper and means your clients don’t have to stop what they are doing in order to get their question answered. They’re already online, so go online. Go to where your clients are.

  • Recruitment. Are you looking for a new staff member? Need volunteers to help you with that barbeque you’re holding at the community centre? Helping to organise a busy bee at the local school? Why not turn to your online client base? If you’ve been running the rest of your social media presence correctly, they will already be engaged with you and your business, so convert it into action.

When it comes to selling social media as a real and measurable platform for engaging with your client base, do away with elements you can’t measure and stick to things you can plot on a chart. It will make the time, effort and money spent on building your presence worth it. You will also be more able to see what works and, more importantly, what doesn’t.

Why Community Managers Are Needed.

If you have a group online, if you are trying to bring a community online, if you’re a brand trying to get followers through social media, then you need a community manager. It doesn’t matter how big you are, how many followers you have, or if you have someone who is happy to sit on Facebook and Twitter all day in the office, the field is so very complex that it isn’t a job that can be done annexed to another position. It is a role that requires specific attention to specific detail. These are the reasons why.

Reason One:

Would you allow a plumber to perform heart surgery on you?

Probably not. Or, if you would, you deserve all you get. Seriously. Unless, of course, they’re connected to a medical adviser on the telephone and you’re in a remote area, you’re probably not going to achieve a high degree of success. The same goes for community management. While it might have some similarities to marketing or advertising or branding, it’s just not the same. It requires a specific set of talents and skills that are very select and, unless someone is prepared to give the time to developing those skills, they’re not likely to just wake up one day and have them.

Reason Two:

Would you want someone not dedicated to an specific field to be a professional in that field?

In an ever changing arena, it is important to have someone who is prepared to sit down and watch trends, watch hash tags, watch what the community is doing and keep an eye on nastier elements. If you don’t, things will run away from you. This has happened time and time again in communities offline, as well as online. The mentality that your community isn’t so big as to need a community manager is a retroactively dangerous one. If community guidelines, communications strategies and crisis action plans are not in place from the very beginning, you are asking for an incoming storm to take you down.

Reason Three:

If someone is happy to tow the company line, will they stand up and tell you you’re wrong?

A community manager is your link to the outside world in such a way that no one else within your business can be. Retail staff, if that’s your field, don’t normally hear a lot about the way people are disgruntled or, if they do, once they leave the store, they no longer care. Online, a bad review, a criticising tweet is out there forever. You can’t take that down. You need someone who will stand up, tell you what people are saying and have the digital balls to tell everyone what is what. If the person dealing with your online community or customer base doesn’t have the hutzpah to take a situation in hand, then you are ruined online, and that is lost money.

That is just three darned good reasons why community managers should be one of the most prized employees on your team. They are you connection to the world online and offline. A good community manager will keep your brand strong online, which is where it matters most.

Social Media and Your Dream Job.

"Dream job" by ~hro

Use social media to aim for the stars – image: http://bit.ly/18CZQ43

We spend so much time on social networking sites, but have you used them as tools in the search for your dream job? Here are four tips to get those connections working towards your dream job.

1. Facebook.

Facebook logoMany businesses have referral systems for staffing, meaning existing staff know about openings before jobs are advertised. Letting your Facebook friends know you’re searching for a new job is one of the best ways to score an interview. With almost 40% of new US hires coming from staff referrals, you need to work those friends lists.

2. LinkedIn.

LinkedIn logoLinkedIn is “the world’s largest professional network,” yet many fail to keep their details current. A study by the annual ASX200 Social Media Report, social recruiting is on the rise in Australia, and LinkedIn is the number one site for checking applicants. Make sure you keep your profile fresh and your contact details current.

3. Pinterest.

Pinterest logoIf you’re a creative, you need to be using Pinterest as a portfolio. It isn’t just for cooking and crafts. Creatives in all fields are using Pinterest to showcase their work and funnel traffic back into their websites. Make sure to use appropriate tagging and keep any work you say is your work separate from that of other people.

4. Twitter.

Twitter logoIf you’re in marketing or communications, you should be on Twitter. Short “tweets” show that you get your meaning across quickly. Make your interactions meaningful, or they’ll be lost in the feed. Applying for a position? Follow the company and the executives. It’s the best way of finding out what’s new with the business and preparing for the interview.

Do you have any tips for using social media in the search for a dream job? Share your ideas with others in the comments below.

References:

Facebook.com (2013). http://www.facebook.com/

Jobvite.com. (2013). Recruiting Data Employment Statistics. http://recruiting.jobvite.com/resources/recruiting-data-employment-statistics-by-jobvite-index/

Linkedin.com. (2013). http://www.linkedin.com/

Linkedin.com, (2013). What is LinkedIn? http://www.linkedin.com/static?key=what_is_linkedin

Pinterest.com. (2013). http://pinterest.com/

Smith, Paul. (2013). LinkedIn tops Australian corporate social media, but YouTube on the Rise. http://www.afr.com/p/technology/linkedin_tops_australian_corporate_6zA5xqSFcMhu2zYTXccr3H

Twitter.com. (2013). http://www.twitter.com/

Twitter.com. (2013). Twitter Help Center. https://support.twitter.com/articles/166337-the-twitter-glossary#t

Walbridge, Andrew. (2013). Design Ideas. http://pinterest.com/awalbridge/design-ideas/

Self-Censorship is Everywhere.

In the decision to publish my last post, there was a greater amount of consultation with others than previously. The question was not whether or not the issue needed to be discussed, because I still maintain that it definitely did. The question was, “Will posting about this cause potential employers to discount my applications due to my writing?”

Image

Censorship by IsaacMao : flickr

I spent a good few weeks thinking about whether or not to write the post, and then a few more questioning whether or not I ought to publish it. As I said on Twitter and my Facebook page, it was the hardest decision I had made in reference to my blog to date. This post is a close second.

Why do we feel the need for self-censorship? Why do we feel that some things we know ought to be said should not be said by ourselves? That it needs to be said, but maybe by someone else? That “something” need to be done by “someone” else. Have we become so afraid of repercussions resulting from the right actions, as much as the wrong ones?

In the current global economic and political environment, I can excuse some of this fear. The need for a job, secure or otherwise, is paramount for most of us. There are bills to pay and roofs to maintain. There’s a need for food on the table, and transport to take us where we need to go. Everything is our lives depends on a steady income, which depends on us appearing to follow the status quo. Don’t rock the boat or you might lose your job, because there’s a million people just lining up to take your position from you. Or so we are told.

But what if that boat needs rocking? What if that “someone” who needs to do “something” never does? What if that someone is ourselves, and if we don’t take that first, scary, terrifying step to lift our heads, open our mouths and actually say something, then no one ever will? Have we become so institutionalised that we refuse to be the first to move?

There have often been complaints against “slacktivism,” suggesting that it is a lack of desire to actually effect change that drives the “likes” and sharing of stories, rather than actual getting off the couch and doing. Perhaps there is a different reason for the rise in the “slacktivist”? Liking something on facebook is a relatively safe activity. Sharing a story through social media is safer than actually joining an activist group and attending a protest. Especially if you have that all too useful “retweets are not endorsements” attached to your profile.

The fragility of our civilised lives has become our prison. We are too scared to act out, speak up or take a stand because this so-called life we have requires so many delicate, easily-removed aspects that we need to hold onto them, despite our desires to show the world who we are, what we actually believe in or how we really feel.

How many times have you been asked how you are going? How many times have you answered with something mediocre? “Yeah, fine. Thanks for asking,” or perhaps “Great. Yourself?” Why not something more truthful like, “Not so good today, but thanks for asking,” or maybe “You know, I’m feeling amazing today!” Because that would jar the sensibilities of the person asking. It’s not something expected. We have instilled within our society certain protocols that must be followed or we don’t know how to react. Think about it. If a stranger came up to you and handed you a flower, what would you do? Would you take it? Maybe, but you would feel that it was so far removed from the everyday that you would probably feel strange doing it.

What if a person on the street asked you to help them restrain someone you had seen assault another person? Would you help, or would that appointment you’re on your way to take priority? Maybe you’d be afraid to get hurt if the person being held tried to escape before the police arrived. Either way, you would be hesitant.

The same goes for speaking up about things we see as wrong. We are more inclined to do as little as possible to bring it into the light, not really committing ourselves to decisive action, just in case it turns against us. We have become a society so scared to act, so ready to self-censor our actions and speech, because we are holding onto the façade of a life most of us realise upon reflection is not the life we want to be living.

I’m not going to stand by and take a mediocre, safe stance on issues. I don’t want to be afraid to speak up anymore. As people were telling me when I was asking for advice regarding my last post, if someone doesn’t want to employed based on the important topics I write about (or some of the not-so-important ones), then they are probably not someone I want to be working for or with. If no one makes a stand, then the “slacktivists” amongst us will have no one to like or share.