community management

You Gotta Feed The Dog

5 Comments 29 April 2011

Image courtesy of stylianosm, Creative Commons license

Lately, I’ve been talking a lot about feeding the dog.  The dog being your social media presence. It seems to me that a successful social media presence includes one part community-building, one part maintenance, and one part leadership development. Every online community (Twitter, video, blogging, Facebook, private online community, etc.) demands all of these at all stages of its life. If you don’t maintain a space actively, your followers become uninterested, and your social community will wither and die. If you don’t feed the dog as much as it needs, it will die. Social media maintenance demands that you feed the dog.

You gotta feed the dog if you’re doing your job.

Maintenance activities keep a company’s presence alive. A good community manager will continue to bring creative ideas, measure success and engagement, and develop content within each social space, even during maintenance mode. Maintenance activities will not increase your organization’s online presence, deepen engagement, or even develop the community. What they do is buy you time. Not every blog post is brilliant or engaging. Not every video is viral. Not every Facebook Wall update engages. In between your incredible interactions, community-building activities, and online campaigns, you’re doing maintenance. I think of it as making sure your community will be there when it comes time to react and act. NOT feeding the dog means your stakeholders will leave. I assure you of this.

How often must you interact and post? That depends upon your community and the social media channel. My colleague Kerri Karvetski offers guidance about how often to post in Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, and on your blog. When you don’t maintain a Facebook Page, for example, the number of interactions, rate of new fan acquisition and post views decline almost immediately. Blogging at least twice a week increases blog readership, but when you don’t blog, readers and comments drop off precipitously and quickly. Twitter followers stop paying attention, and soon only bots are following your organization when you stop tweeting.

Community building is hard work. Each community will have its own maintenance demands. You’ll know from your Google Analytics, or internal metrics when that drop-off point of participation occurs. Ideally, participation increases consistently, and a key ingredient is feeding the dog.



Your Comments

5 Comments so far

  1. Great way to sum up what needs to be done.


    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Marion – thanks! Nice to “meet” you here, too.


  2. John Haydon says:

    Debra – great post here! One of the most critical parts of feeding the dog is consistency. If you’re blogging 2x per week and then drop off, your subscribers will do the same. The dog will go find a neighbor.


    Debra Askanase Reply:

    @johnhaydon:disqus Such a great point! I’ve seen this happen when I’ve cut down on my own blogging for a period of time. And the other part is that it takes just as long to build it back up.


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Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

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