Do you blog?
I’ve been blogging for 7 or 8 years now. I have a food blog, and I once ran a photography blog. I ran the 1ShoppingCart blog for a couple of years. And there are others.
There are 2 things that I’ve learned about blogging: 1. It’s a lot of work. 2. If you stop, even for a little while, it’s really difficult to get started again.
And that about sums up what’s been going on with this blog for the past couple of years.
My blog was hacked in 2010, and I lost a years worth of posts. I have thought about blogging here ever since… but one month bleeds into another… and here we are with the end of 2011 in sight.
Time is a funny thing. It’s really difficult to gauge how much of it you have at any given time and if flows faster the older you get.
Or maybe that’s just an excuse we like to use as we age.
I could always blame my kids, who I happily dedicate most of my free time to.
Or maybe I could just take the time to blog.
I’m often asked variations on: “What’s important to know about designing good software?”
One answer? Good music piped through good headphones!
Know the music that gets your blood moving, but doesn’t act as a distraction and get it into your ears.
Top 10 reasons why you should wire in to music while working:
- It will help you manage ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’
- It will help you tune out the ‘water cooler talk’ around you
- It will get your blood moving, your foot tapping and fingers typing – we are multi-taskers by nature, and for most people having audio in the background helps us actually work faster
- It will make you look busier – people will think twice before interrupting you (sometimes I will put the headphones on even without the music for this reason)
- It will give you an excuse to try and ignore even the persistent people – “Oh sorry, I didn’t hear you!”
- It will help keep you focused longer by giving you something else to concentrate on during short breaks (instead of getting dragged into other tasks, or email)
- It’s a lot better than listening to the hum of the fluorescent lights and other high frequencies
- Music helps release stress! And who doesn’t have too much of that?
- Many of us don’t actually need 10 reasons to listen to good music…
- Hrm… hold on, I’m going to listen to some music for a bit and try and come up with a better #10… um, nope – that’s it.
Music has been linked to biological changes, mood control and productivity over and over again… and if that’s not enough, the ‘Mozart effect’ isn’t even limited to humans – one study I saw even pointed out a case where dairy cows produced more milk after listening to classical music!
Well, looks like someone didn’t like my blog – and my web traffic from Russia and China have both spiked in the past month… Coincidence? Perhaps, but someone brought me down…
Until I have time to sort out templates, and plugins etc. I’ll be looking a little vanilla.
Unfortunately I’m not much of a ‘remember to back it up’ kind of guy and the last DB backup I have is from January 2009 (must have been a new years resolution to backup my blog in case anything bad ever happened – like getting hacked in 2010)
C’est la vie!
I’ll be back shortly.
Where on earth did 2008 go? My baby turns 1 year old in a few days and it really does just feel like a few weeks ago that I was in the hospital as she cried for the first time (she raised hell when she got a needle in the leg… what can I say, I’ve taught my kids to tell it like it is! )
The number one lesson I learned in the last 52 weeks is something that I’ve known, and said out loud for years; but it really hit home this year:
There is way more opportunity (read – things to do) than time
Now, I’m not one for new year’s resolutions, I really don’t believe in them (I DO believe that if we don’t try to improve a little bit more each and every day, what’s the whole point of being here anyway!) But that being said, this year I’d like to set out some goals
As my job with 1ShoppingCart evolves, I’ll be taking on new and exciting challenges to help try and grow the business, improve our services and try to figure out how to better solve the needs of our growing merchant base (that’s you! or at least some of you)
So one of the main things I’d like to acheive this year, is to use this blog as a space where I can investigate, learn, and otherwise sound-out the many issues that small businesses struggle with as we move towards the close of the first decade of the millenium.
I really believe that, in order to be successful we need to help make you successful (because that’s really what it’s all about right!?), and the only way to do that is to ensure I, and we, really understand what it is you’re going through on a day to day basis, so we can be there to help where we can.
So, my #1 goal for 2009, is to be dedicated to you, through this blog; understand the issues, answer questions, and solve problems.
I know I’ve neglected posting over the past few months (Christmas is our busy season and I’ve been crazy, but that’s no excuse), but I hope that once I get ramped up again, you’ll feel free to step in and join the conversation.
One of my coworkers read my post yesterday and, stopping me in the hall said “But isn’t your job (Product Management) basically the same as a community manager?”
I’m just going to cut straight to the chase with this one and say it… No, Product Management is not the same as Community Management (unless the community is your product I suppose).
Although there are overlaps.
For instance, if your organization has a product management team, but no community team, then your product managers need to take on the role of advocating the customers voice within the dev process; and making sure the development cycle works FOR the customer (and not for the MACHINE!). I also produce my fair share of content and wrote for the company blog and newsletter (both of which are currently defunct unfortunately).
And while this is all important, and the product managers should always consider the end user as one of the most important share holders during their research cycle, they will never (or should never anyway) have the amount of time needed to really engage, foster and build a community.
Enter the Community Manager.
The Community Manager has the enviable job of, if not defining then at least executing your companies overall outreach strategy. Think: Advocate, Evangelist, Promoter, Conversationalist, Schmoozer, Moderator, Networker, Coordinator and so much more.
Of course there’s tracking and reporting, analyzing and metrics, worrying about ROI (which can be more difficult for the Community Manager), producing multi-channel content, staying up to date with the latest online social tools, ferreting out hidden communities and working varied hours (unless of course you can convince your community to stick to YOUR 9-5 schedule!)
So yes, there are similarities, but no, a community manager is not a product manager.
I’ve spent a good amount of time this week looking into the roles of Web Strategist and Community Manager and the one thing that I can say I’ve learned without any doubt is that the responsibilities that fall within these roles seem to be as varied as the companies that staff them.
Some companies seem to staff the community manager as an entry level position, with little more to do than write for a blog or moderate a forum.
Other companies (seemingly the ones that get ‘it’) offer this as a senior management role with salaries rising well beyond the 100k mark (although the average seems to be in the 80k neighbourhood) and including a broad range of roles and responsibilities.
Currently we don’t staff for a community manager at 1ShoppingCart; we have a few people carrying out what I would consider to be community manager tasks like monitoring external forums and I personally watch our brand across multiple channels (like Twitter and Facebook); but these aren’t our primary roles.
I read somewhere today (and I can’t find my reference note at the moment unfortunately, I think it was from a Gartner report, but will update my post when I do find it) that 60%+ of all Fortune 1000 companies will be fostering online communities by 2010. So do we need a standardization of the Community Manager role?
This is a topic I will be delving into a little deeper in the coming weeks, and I hope you’ll join me by adding your own feedback in the comments section (I know there are people reading my blog that know more about this than I do!)
For now, I thought a good way to get the ball rolling would be to break down what the role/roles looked like, from a responsibilities POV. Click the image below to open a mindmap I’ve created and be sure to share your thoughts & corrections! Thanks!
FYI the mindmap is an aggregation of dozens of sources (esp. blog posts & job postings), as well as the culmination of my thoughts over the past year.
For more information on the subject (and I will be compiling more resources as I identify them) the two single best sources of information on Community Management that I can recommend are Connie Bensen and Jeremiah Owyang (both of whom I’ve also been following on Twitter for ages)