Back in February, I started a series of conversations with people who participate in the operation of social media programs for a variety of different brands. Today, I’ll continue with thoughts from the spectacular Lauren Vargas.
Lauren Vargas, Director of Community at Radian6, is a Boston-based communications professional with a decade of experience in community relations, internal and external corporate communications, and government affairs. At Radian6, she assists organizations with building sound objectives and strategies for listening and measurement, and helps them engage with the communities they serve by fostering authentic relationships built on trust through conversations and participatory media.
1. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is _______.
Take the 30 second commute to my office, grabbing a Coca Cola on the way! Oh, did you mean my job? To get my cylinders fired up, I begin my day with a couple rounds of Set or Bejewled and then read the posts in my Must Reads file in Google Reader. I dedicate only 30 minutes to skimming my Inbox for any urgent issues, or risk being swallowed alive by email for the remainder of the morning. I make a fresh to-do list and start diving into projects. There is no typical day in the life of a community manager, but I build routine into my morning to help me start the day on the right foot.
2. Define “brand” in 140 characters.
A brand is the soul of a business, service or product; the intersection of thoughts, feelings, and experiences linked to said business.
3. What’s the best tool in your social media arsenal?
The best tool in my arsenal will adapt with me through any job and any communications channel. It is integrity.
4. Why is it important to have a real live human behind your social media efforts?
People talk about “humanizing” the organization like it’s some sort of collective thing. Instead, we should be highlighting the individuals that power our businesses. People want to talk to other people, not a faceless avatar.
5. How much of your content is pre-planned vs. real-time responses?
Responses are not pre-planned, but our community team does have a playbook to guide our responses or actions. We encourage our community managers to have personality in their responses, and express individuality. This attitude fosters deeper conversations. Real-time conversation deserves real-time response.
6. We all know social media isn’t a part time job. Realistically, what kind of hours do you put in and what are some typical tasks in a normal work week?
As a community manager, to some degree, you are always “on” if you are participating online. Our community team puts in the hours we need to, to serve our community. We work with other departments (support and our account managers) to scale our response. The planning and creation of content is a task that takes up a significant amount of our time, but it fuels the conversations within the community.
7. What do you do to get away from the “always-on” experience?
It is tough, but sometimes, I just have to go off the grid. If I find myself in front of my computer, I find myself online. So I snuggle up with my Nook or Discover magazine and let my mind get lost in the pages of a science fiction novel, or get inspired by an article about the socialization of plants.
8. If you had to choose between delivering your message and caring for your community (but only choosing one), which would it be?
Caring for my community, because ultimately that IS delivering my message as a community manager.
9. What’s the wackiest/most eccentric community you’ve ever been a member of?
Oh goodness, I am fairly conservative with the communities I join online, but perhaps if I could find a Threadless support group, that would be the most eccentric.
10. The last thing I do before bed is _____. (PG rated!)
I always end the evening by reading fiction. A business or non-fiction book fires up my brain, so I prefer to get lost in words about a parallel universe. This type of reading helps me wind down, and helps me stop agonizing about my never-ending to-do list.