Or maybe, 5 online tools a community manager should not live without. These are tools that I’ve grown accustomed to as they’ve grown in popularity and as of today, I can’t successfully do my job without. And, let’s not forget – I’m writing this from my point-of-view as a blogger (hence Google Notebook!). Here are the 5 (nay) 7 tools every community manager can make good use of in three categories – Organize, Communicate and Track.
And, the best part of Google Notebook is that it’s integrated into Google Bookmarks, so this becomes a great way to gather all those little websites that you track through your daily work. Google Notebook really shines when you’re a community blogger. It helps you throw into buckets all those little URLs you gather along the way. I use it to arrange my thoughts both for my personal blog (see picture below) or ideas for LinkedIn’s corporate blog.
Again a data monitoring and aggregation tool. Try searching your “company name” within Technorati or Google blog search. The resulting feed can then be “fed” to your Google Reader where you get the most timely mentions of the brand you’re monitoring.
A key role of the community manager is effective communication both internally (within an organization) and externally (to users). Now, when I started at LinkedIn there was an internal blog I tried blogging about topics that may be of interest. But it was rather cumbersome and I longed for a service that allowed not only me, but also for anybody within an organization to start a private discussion on professional topics of common interest with their colleagues.
Enter LinkedIn News.
3. LinkedIn News
By far, the best way I’ve found (feel free to share other options, and yes, I do work there as community evangelist) to share news articles that I think my colleagues may be interested in discussing. And, most importantly, it’s private.
Finally, blogs are by far the best way to maintain that all-important conversation with users in a public format. It’s great because its an open conversation that’s timely, relevant, search index optimized, and I could go on. I cannot stress the effectiveness of blogging as a web communication tool for community managers. If there’s a better way, let me know, by leaving a comment.
…and one more thing…
One of the greatest advancements in being a customer evangelist these days is the ability to respond to user requests sooner vs. later, thanks to the following 3 tools (there may be others) that enable real-time tracking or as close to it as possible.
I’ve mentioned before how easy it is these days to set up an email based tracking mechanism for keywords associated with your “company name” or brand. Google alerts allows you to set this up in 1 easy step. Check it out here. And, read more of my take on it here.
6. Twitter (follow me on Twitter)
Good or Bad, this is probably the key impact on businesses that twitter has wrought. Twitter is a great way to communicate with users of your product/service. How do I do that, you may ask?
* Set up a tweetscan to monitor your brand (RSS or email)
* When users talk about your service – reach out to them and add them as friends. Just earlier today, John Boynton wrote how LinkedIn had helped him find a VP of Community candidate successfully and voila we’re now tracking each other on twitter!
Presenting a real time feed of all the various services you’re addicted to, it takes immediate gratification to the next level. Caution: It could be a time sink, but check out ways to prevent that from happening, below.
How can I use it for community management:
* Search & Track all mentions of your “company name”
* You can do that either (a) directly on Friendfeed, (b) through their desktop app AlertThingy and Twhirl (links below)
Now, many of you may complain that twitter and friendfeed are distractions. Now if you’re of the easily distracted kind there’s hope for you. Here are two simple ways to keep track of your usage/wastage of time with Twitter/Friendfeed vs. spending time on these sites.
1. Firefox extensions: TwitBin, MySocial24*7
2. Desktop apps: Twhirl, AlertThingy (I tried the thingy and it didn’t work for me)
3. The best browser time-management tool: Read more here
Again, this is NOT a comprehensive list. As community managers, do you have other tools you can’t live without. Leave a comment.
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