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5 work hacks every #dctech community manager needs to know

The job of doing more with less can sometimes feel overwhelming. Good thing we have five work hacks from local community managers, as collected by Laura Lopez of Social Tables.

The growing list of events hosted at Social Tables HQ. (Photo by Tajha Chappellet-Lanier)
This is a guest post by Laura Lopez, senior community manager at Social Tables.
The work of a community manager is never done.

Whether it’s making sure our communities are engaged in-person and online, we work tirelessly to recruit new community members and interact with existing ones and do research to understand how to make an even bigger impact and…

Since many community managers sometimes operate as a team of one that reaches across organizational departments, our work can sometimes feel downright exhausting.

That’s why we went to the experts to find five work hacks that every #dctech community manager can use to stay organized, energized and focused — no matter what comes your way.

Manny Perez, Community Development Manager, NY Code + Design Academy

  • Tip: “Hot Coffee Sprints! On those busy mornings when I have a billion different things to do, I break them down into ‘sprints.’ Each sprint lasts until my morning coffee (or whatever hot drink I’m sipping on) is no longer hot. It’s a fun little way to manage time!”

Much of a community manager’s work impacts a few or all departments of a company, so a CM’s time is precious. And when you have so many goals and projects that require a lot of your time, it can be easy to fall into the trap of spending too much of it in one area. Take a cue from NYCDA’s Manny Perez and divvy your day’s tasks into sprints. When the coffee’s gone cold, time to move on to the next thing.

Malinda Inthirath, Community Manager, Social Driver

  • Tip: “I try to have weekly themes for engagements. For example, if it’s a project that’s education-based, I’ll do a week of looking for STEM-related content and engage in those communities. Another week I’ll engage with people talking about research on low-income students and their needs. I also try to track relevant hashtags, keywords or phrases I’ll use for that week to make life a little easier.”

A community goal is typically not achieved in one, big attempt. Instead, the goal’s corresponding projects require many steps that span a period of time. Malinda Inthirath of Social Driver achieves her goals by breaking them down into weekly themes that help her focus her engagement activities with her community throughout the duration of the project.

Christina Shorter, Community Manager, National Geographic

  • Tip: “Spend time looking at similar communities. As important as it is to understand your community, you should also know what your community is not. Things online move fast, but taking the time to see what else is going on in the community space will help you keep up with the latest trends and think more creatively and critically about your community.”

Could your work use a little inspiration? This work hack from National Geographic’s Christina Shorter will help you to not reinvent the wheel when it comes to learning about your community and coming up with new ideas. Neighboring communities can help you stay relevant on trends that could influence the creative work you do with your own community. Instead of ideating alone and only looking forward, look around you to draw inspiration that will help your work achieve greater impact.

Cash Colburn, Community Manager, iStrategyLabs

  • Tip: “Be as involved in the content creation process as you can! Your intimate understanding of your audience is invaluable. Use your knowledge of your community and how they respond to help guide what gets put in front of them and your engagement rate will soar.”

This community manager hack from Cash Colburn of iStrategyLabs embodies the age-old saying, “work smarter, not harder.” By listening to topics and issues that your community is passionate about, you’ll be able to better serve them better by creating content that resonates with them.

And here’s a tip from yours truly:

Laura Lopez, Senior Community Manager, Social Tables

  • Tip: “It’s a riff on timeboxing that helps me to prioritize aggressively. Admittedly, I’m not the best at prioritization and when I feel like I’m getting bogged down in random requests (that distract me from my own tasks), I schedule time to handle those random projects then schedule time to focus on my day’s tasks. I spend only one hour in the morning and one hour in the late afternoon to handle random requests:If it doesn’t fit in those two hours, it’s deprioritized for another day.”

Distraction for me unfortunately happens easily and often. Just as Malinda at Social Driver breaks her tasks down into weekly goals, it can also be helpful to break those down even further into daily tasks. But, if you’re getting distracted by coworkers or receiving requests for things that aren’t quite in your wheelhouse, even the most well-planned goals can float further out of reach. Be aggressive about which tasks get your attention daily and stick with it.

Have any work hacks or tips for community managers to share? Tweet them to me ? @1aura1opez!

Companies: Social Tables / iStrategyLabs

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