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In its fourth annual study of online community performance, member engagement and social media integration, ComBlu has delivered a stellar report that should serve as an eye-opener for brands and those advising brands on their overall social strategies heading into 2013 and beyond.

The 2012 State of Online Branded Communities report provides insights on the inner-workings of more than 200 online communities across 92 corporations and 15 industries and is a must-read for community managers, social media managers and brand managers, period!
I’ll go into a few of the key takeaways in a minute, but what stood out most to me was the acceptance of an “All-Facebook and Twitter” community ecosystem, mentioned on page 4. The authors go into detail about how this approach truncates engagement and prevents the formation of deeper affinity, on which I certainly agree.

I’ve long held the belief that Twitter and Facebook aren’t necessarily communities, and I can say this because I managed a branded “owned” community for three years and know with 100% certainty that it is an entirely different animal.

(See my post Community Manager vs. Social Media Manager from 2010 for more on my thoughts…)

In the report, the All-Facebook and Twitter” approach is referenced as a “social experience with a brand” which is a great way to explain it. It isn’t the highest level of engagement. There’s a difference.

Other key findings include:

  • Activity levels are generally healthy but fairly static across the board.
    While 43 percent of communities are enjoying high-levels of activity, that’s a mere one percent jump from last year.
  • Optimizing the member experience remains an aspirational goal.
  •  Telecommunications is the sole industry with high activity levels across all brands; pharmaceutical industry exhibited the lowest activity
  • Top performing industries include telecommunications, gaming, technology and consumer electronics, entertainment, and consumer products-beverage.
  • Brands that are “community superstars” include Verizon, SAP, Sony PlayStation, EA, AT&T, Bravo, IBM, Cisco, Kraft, Microsoft, Sprint, Xbox, Sears, T-Mobile and Whole Foods.

Too busy to read it today? Take a look at the infographic.  ComBlu is releasing the report and additional information this morning at the WOMMA Summit.
I’m sure there will be some great tweets during the announcement, so be sure to follow the twitter hashtag #WOMMASummit for updates.

  1. Talk to me about something other than Facebook and Twitter.
  2. Tell me that you read more than Mashable. What about news? Read any of that lately?
  3. Bring some knowledge about user behavior and tell me about a few studies you’ve recently read.
  4. Have an opinion about the future. Heck, make a prediction. That shows me you’re a thinker.
  5. Be sure you understand that posting tweets does not equal, Twitter campaign.
  6. Don’t tell me about the celebrities you tweet with unless you’ve turned that into a conversion or generated new business as a result.
  7. Know a little something about social communications.
  8. Refrain from telling me how you’ve helped anyone “push” their messages. You say “push,” I tune out.
  9. Know that rapid growth in fans and followers is unimpressive if you don’t have a smart, strategic story that supports that growth.
  10. Don’t say you’re a pro at monitoring if you’ve only done it through Google Alerts.
  11. Be honest about your skill set.
  12. Tell me about a mistake you’ve made related to your own participation in social media and what it taught you.
  13. Be ready to write or discuss a response to an irate customer on the spot – when given a scenario.
  14. Know what it takes to be a successful community manager.
  15. Have some general knowledge about social advertising.

I am going to stop there.

My point is this: So many people want jobs with “social media” in the title. They believe they’re qualified because they think it’s easy. It isn’t. You must be an active, motivated learner.

The expert of today becomes the idiot of tomorrow if they don’t stay on top of industry trends and strive to learn something new all the time.

If you’re actively looking for these types of positions, go in knowing that your personal use of social tools does not translate to business use. It is not an apples-to-apples comparison.

If you want it, do the work. And when you do get that interview, bring your A game. Anything less is a disservice to you and the person taking the time out of their day to give you a chance.


Author’s note: If you’re new here or a subscriber who hasn’t been around in a while, check out my new newsletter, New Media Minutes.

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November 2012

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This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer. Feel free to challenge me, disagree with me, or tell me I’m completely nuts in the comments section of each blog entry.


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