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Seven things to help make you a better social media manager

A woman can learn a lot sitting in a bar.

Panelists at Third Tuesday

Panelists from left, Kelly Ferrier, Darren Hailes and Allyson Simpson regale us with Tales from the Trenches. Host Tony Johanson kept them on their toes with his questions. Photo by Tristan Bauer; used with permission (Thanks Tristan!).

Last week, the learning happened on the lower floor of Melrose during a meetup of the Third Tuesday Club. Meetups happen several times a year, and bring together social media geeks from around the city to learn about tricks of the trade, emerging trends and new social networks worth clicking. Regulars of social media meetups can tell you, staring at your smartphone for the entirety of these events is not unusual. Despite this, we social media geeks are actually quite personable. #SortOf.

Last Tuesday’s event was a panel discussion on “Tales from Community Manager Trenches.” Luckily, all cases of trench foot were minimal and easily cured with typed pleasantries. Panellists Darren Hailes (WestJet), Kelly Ferrier (Communicatto) and Allyson Simpson (Enbridge) kept the audience hooked with stories and advice for achieving and managing strong (sometimes troublesome) communities online.

There were plenty of good anecdotes shared and handy tips that you can use whether you’re managing just your own online identity or that of several brands. Here’s what I learned, and my take on it, a week later.

  • Know who your clients are in the real world and online. The people who follow you may be looking for different things than the people who walk into your store or office. Notice that they have different likes and needs based on whether they’re connecting with you on Facebook or Twitter.
  • What kind of content does your community prefer? Do your Twitter followers like video? Do your Facebook Likers respond to photos and true/false quizzes or are they more traditional media consumers who’d rather see a link to an op-ed? Test to see what works best for your community. (Photos of attractive people doing cool things works for WestJet, as do photos of gorgeous getaway locations on Monday mornings.)
  • Real world social skills are important in online communities. Remember that your audience is full of individuals who may react to your message differently than you expected. Be prepared to respond to trolls.
  • Don’t take it personally if someone is attacking you or your brand online. Decide when to engage and when to step away and leave them to their tantrum.
  • Think: How can you move your social media from just online into the real world? WestJet surprised a guest who had tweeted about taking an airport golf cart for a joyride by sharing his photo with their employees, then finding him and giving him a treat: a ride around the airport (a slow work day, we were told). Melrose created a “Steak Off” between them and three other restaurants, where the winner served a steak to William Shatner, and it all started with a few tweets.
  • Keep an eye on your brand. Search for Twitter mentions that don’t include your username. 9/10 times they’re negative comments and you’ll have a chance to respond, killing ’em with kindness or humour. Consider also setting up Google Alerts for your brand or news stories your brand ought to know about.
  • If management is afraid of social media, there may be a good reason. Is there really any benefit in putting your shy, old-fashioned spelling-impaired CEO on Twitter? Or would it be better for a communications team open up that doorway to transparency?

Were you also there and have a tip from Third Tuesday to share? Please do so in the comments, or ask a question and I’ll do my best to answer.

Filed under: Blog, Social Media

About the Author

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I am a writer living under a pile of scrap paper and unopened fan mail from the cable company. I believe a messy desk is simply a sign of inspiration waiting to be uncovered. But I’m biased. More from me on Twitter: @zoeywrites


  1. Karina

    This post was great, Zoey. Thanks for summarizing your main takeaways, they’re insightful.
    What do you suggest is the best way to determine what kind of content a specific community prefers? Through analytics and how the community interacts?


    • Glad you enjoyed, Karina!

      I think you answered your own question there. Absolutely analytics are going to be helpful in learning what sorts of content are most effective to interact with your community. What I heard from the panel was that trial and error is extremely valuable, because really, your community isn’t exactly like any other. That being said, seeking out comparable communities (whether it’s a similar product, brand or target market) and learning from what they’re doing is also going to give you some clues as to what could work.


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