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Quinnipiac Social Media Social Media Class Twitter

Quinnipiac Assignment 02 – ICM 526 – Influencer Impact and Networks

Influencer Impact and Networks

For the writing community online, influence comes from three main areas – authors, publishers, and literary agents.

There are others online, but I will just look at those three, particularly in the context of the events known as NaNoWriMo and #MSWL. In Jay Baer’s Social Media Influencers versus Brand Advocates Infographic, he says –

True influence requires two things: audience and advocacy. Advocacy is driven by the depth of conviction, and influencers typically are less committed to the product or company than are actual customer advocates.

In the world of aspiring authors, advocacy isn’t limited to just influencers. Nearly everyone is an advocate, but it’s the influencers who have the audience.

Authors

Amateur authors love to write and would love to be published (and quit their day jobs), but many are terrified of being seen as wannabes. In the NaNoWriMo community in particular (NaNoWriMo is an annual challenge to write a novel of at least 50,000 words during November), there seems to be a fear that the product created at the end of the month is somehow ‘not good enough’.

For these aspiring authors, the ability to interact directly with their literary heroes is a means of seeking and obtaining a degree of validation.

Within NaNoWriMo, the organization leverages its network of authors (not necessarily ones who have ever participated in the annual event) to write Pep Talks. Neil Gaiman, in 2007, wrote –

You write. That’s the hard bit that nobody sees. You write on the good days and you write on the lousy days. Like a shark, you have to keep moving forward or you die. Writing may or may not be your salvation; it might or might not be your destiny. But that does not matter. What matters right now are the words, one after another. Find the next word. Write it down. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Influencer Impact and Networks
English writer Neil Gaiman. Taken at the 2007 Scream Awards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Image is offered for educational purposes only.

For aspiring authors ready to throw in the towel, Gaiman’s words ring true. All NaNoWriMo is selling are buttons and a few other products sporting their logo. Plus they are hoping participants will contribute to the site.

Inspiration isn’t easy to bottle, but Gaiman’s words (and the words of other authors such as Jim Butcher) are helpful. The aspiring author realizes he or she is far from alone. Even the people who really did quit their day jobs struggle at times.

Publishers

#MSWL is a Twitter hashtag meaning ‘Manuscript Wish List’. Instead of waiting for a slush pile’s worth of unsolicited manuscripts, agents and publishing houses reach out directly to the writing community and make their desires known. While #MSWL is more active in February, the most recent tweet (as of the creation of this blog post) is from freelance editor Libby Murphy –

REALLY want a romantic comedy featuring hockey players! Bonus points for an enemies to lovers conflict.

Murphy’s tweet provides writers with exactly what they need. If they’ve got a manuscript tucked away with Bobby Orr as the protagonist, then the writer’s next step is obvious.

Is everyone who uses #MSWL an influencer? No. But the clear request is a win-win. It wastes time and goodwill if an aspiring author doesn’t have a hockey story but queries Ms. Murphy anyway, or presents their Alexander Ovechkin-inspired romantic comedy to another. #MSWL has been so successful that it has spawned WordPress and Tumblr blogs. Most of the buzz behind #MSWL comes from agent Jessica Sinsheimer.

Literary Agents

For agents, the platform of choice is Twitter. There are a few on Facebook, such as Marisa Corvisiero. Google+ seems to be untapped. The largest related community I could find was Literary Agents Hate Kittens, a community for aspiring authors. The largest literary agent-related community on LinkedIn was for writers looking to connect with agents.

Twitter, though, is the place to be for literary agents, and not just when #MSWL is most active. Even Sinsheimer, who invented #MSWL, admits she uses the hashtag even when there’s no event going on. It’s that convenient.

How Organizations Can Best Use Influencer Networks

For NaNoWriMo, tapping their influencer network is a way to shore up fragile aspiring authors’ egos and, maybe, get them to purchase merchandise or donate or both. Further, the use of pep talks – on-point evergreen content – means influencer names are associated with NaNoWriMo and remain so in perpetuity.

For looser confederations of publishers and literary agents, using #MSWL gets them connected to online influencers in a way that they weren’t before. It doesn’t hurt that the hashtag is practical, too, and cuts out wasted time as aspiring authors are directed to query agents and publishers interested in their nascent masterpieces.

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Community Management Quinnipiac Social Media Class

Quinnipiac Assignment 01 – ICM 526 – The Most Important Role of a Community Manager

The Most Important Role of a Community Manager

I’ve been a Community Manager for over a decade but don’t believe I have seen a better outline of our roles and sub-roles than this graphic –

Most Important Role of a Community Manager
The Mind of a Community Manager (image is from class and is intended for educational purposes only)

I have been in all of these roles, at one time or another. Because I am a volunteer and Able2Know is a large generalized Q & A website, some of my experience has been slightly different.

Piñata

A lot of community members might not realize when they do this. Sometimes it can feel as if you’re the punching bag. But you can’t punch back. Whenever I’ve been involved in an altercation online (usually by being dragged into one; I tend not to instigate), I inevitably recuse myself and ask that other Moderators and Administrators handle what is to be done.

Sponge

I’ve never been more in tune with this role than after a member’s death. I’ve written maybe a dozen online obituaries. It’s an odd thing to put together something of the life of a person who used a screen name and an avatar. Those moments require taking the temperature of a community, and understanding whether the remembrance should be a rollicking, funny wake, or posted music and poetry, or something else.

Gardener

I haven’t been a gardener since the site was rather young. When there are few members and topics, the Community Manager is often tasked with creating content. That has to stop at some point, as the community needs to take over and make a far larger percentage of the content. With a brand-related community, it is different. The brand will likely retain far more of the content creation role.

These days, I prune or shape a lot more than I create. That leads me to the Cheerleader role.

Cheerleader

There’s nothing like being enthusiastic about a new feature and having the membership scream bloody murder because they don’t like the change. And then, a year later, seeing the community embrace that very same change. Cheerleaders, at times, are treated like Piñatas.

Traffic Cop

We have a Help Desk, and I regularly route more of the developmental work elsewhere. Still, this is a role that could conceivably be done by others.

Mediavore

While I am a Mediavore as a matter of personal characteristics and behaviors, this role hasn’t exactly been necessary at Able2Know. I have used this knowledge and familiarity, though, to bring interesting social media information to the site. Plus I answer a lot of the Facebook and Twitter questions.

Empathy

This is another area less important for a volunteer position at a shoestring site. More likely, I am checking Facebook, etc. to see if users are disgruntled, or leaving entirely. For me, this role has a lot in common with the Sponge.

Spam Warrior

Oh, how I despise this role. But it’s got to be done every single day. These tasks are often delegated to newer volunteer Community Manager/Moderators, mainly because it’s a large and daunting task. It’s also to get their feet wet and give them an idea of how we do things.

Sculptor

I keep some rough stats, as the site is run on a shoestring. My background is in data analysis; I know the value of objective, measurable, quantitative information. In particular, objective data is usually important at budget time. Management needs to know the community is working, and is more than a few people chatting. Data and its analysis can sometimes mean the difference between a project with a budget that’s continued, and one which loses its budget and dies on the vine.

Concierge

For this role (again, keep in mind, I’m a volunteer, and the site is run with a rather low budget), it’s more of the times when I’ve answered questions at in-person gatherings or helped someone get back onto the site when their only means of communicating with me is via Facebook wall posts or Twitter or the like. But this doesn’t happen too often.

Drumroll, please!

The Most Important Role of a Community Manager is ….

Empathetic Sponge, with a dash of Sculptor.

The role of a Community Manager, I believe, is mainly as a listener, and all three of these sub-roles are mainly centered around listening. What are people saying? How can we understand the community? And how does what we’re hearing convert into metrics?

Allow me to add a new role, perhaps one that melds these three – the Windmill. That is, a means of harnessing the wind. The Community Manager needs to know which way the wind blows, and how to measure it, and how to use it to power the community.