One Week As Class Moderator

I just finished my week as moderator and it was quite a bit more difficult than I had expected. Before the week had begun, I created a list of articles that I had planned to share over the course of the week. However, as the week progressed, I scratched my list and looked for more content that would hopefully hit a nerve amongst the other students in hopes of greater engagement. Participation and engagement felt low most of the week, which felt frustrating, but there was a good group of regular contributors to the community throughout the week.

Despite some difficulty starting conversations, I still enjoyed the assignment. It caused me to look at content a bit differently. Each morning, as I was looking for something I felt was worthy of sharing with the class, I had to think about what conversations could be started from the piece of content. Was it a cut and dry piece to which no one could add much insight? Or did the content raise some questions in which I could bring to the class? It made me recognize the importance of writing to engage rather than just inform or tell.

Some of the major points from the topics and questions that were raised during my week include:

  • whether or not 6 characters for a hashtag is ideal for optimal engagement
  • a unique way to spur user-generated content for your brand—will it work?
  • knowing when a blog just doesn’t make sense for your content strategy
  • earning yourself a free beer for engaging with a company—would this type of campaign work well in the US?
Ideal Character Length for Online Content

SumAll and Buffer share the ideal character length for nearly everything online. Photo via blog.sumall.com.

Some of the posts left questions unanswered. I think that since there aren’t many students regularly involved in the discussions each week, having a new post each day made it difficult to start worthwhile conversations surrounding a previous topic. Having additional opinions and insights from other students would’ve better helped the rest of us to come to some conclusions each day. Overall, I believe that this assignment provided a good glimpse into some responsibilities of creating and curating content that most people wouldn’t expect.

Two Questions to Ask When No One is Talking

via Google+

via Google+

Last week, I took over the reins of the Google+ Community to moderate the class discussion about content strategy. Some posts generated discussion and others didn’t, and it got me thinking about people who moderate professionally. Every day, community managers and moderators post content, measure engagement, interact with commenters and then do it all over again. There have to be certain times when a piece of content is posted and no one responds. When posting so much content daily, not everything is going to be successful. A moderator shouldn’t see this as a failure but they should take the opportunity to identify why the post didn’t perform well.

Here are two questions a moderator should ask when no one is talking:

1. Am I targeting the right audience?

Whether it be the entire content strategy or one particular post, it’s important to know if the content being produced is focused on the right audience. Before you even create the social media account or platform you’re moderating, you know what audience you’re targeting. Make sure you know how they use social media and more importantly, how they best like to consume content. Certain audiences can be extremely particular with the types of content they like. Some groups love photos but hate videos, others prefer links, so it’s important to know and cater to these preferences.

The next step is to go through either the post or all of your recent content to see if you’re targeting it in the way you intend to. After doing something for a while, it’s not always easy to take a step back and examine your own work. But, it’s extremely necessary.

 

2. Am I talking about the right things?

If you’re a blog about science, don’t post about literature unless you have a fantastic way to relate back to science. There’s a reason people come and comment, it’s because they love or are experts in a certain subject. They don’t come to find out more about other subjects. So if you answer “yes” to question 1, this might be the problem.

Some groups that require moderation talk about some very specific topics. This summer, I moderated a group that only talked about cloud-based technology solutions for small businesses. They didn’t want to talk about mobile solutions for small businesses or social media solutions for small business, only solutions related to cloud-based technology. The big issues is that there’s not always fresh content to talk about, but that doesn’t give you an excuse to be inactive. It’s important to give the audience the content related to the subject they are interested in and keep the conversation going when the conversation isn’t necessarily fresh.