Interview with ASAE’s Community Manager, Mandy Stahl

Community management is a new role at many associations, and it’s further complicated by being both a very public-facing job as well as one managing internal processes that often cut across more than one department inside an organization.  We thought it would be interesting to talk to Mandy Stahl, Community Manager for ASAE, about her first few months in this high profile job.  Any questions for Mandy?  Please post in the comments!

Honestly, it felt weird at first.  It was as if I was seeing something that I wasn’t supposed to.  ASAE has a large staff, so it took me a while to meet everyone and understand the placement and purposes of all the departments.  It was a refreshing adjustment to move from an industry-focused association to ASAE where our membership is closer to my interests. Everyone is passionate about working for the association industry.

I also have to think about things in a different way.  Thinking like a member comes naturally to me, but I’m adding in the additional perspective from the business needs of ASAE, which has been a change for me.  Also, ASAE has such a diverse membership that I also have to think about members who don’t have the same needs from ASAE that I did as a member.  It is important for me to maintain my viewpoint as a member day-to-day.

It is certainly a pro that ASAE has such a large and engaged online community, but at the same time, it means there are higher expectations and more internal and external responsibilities with my position.  I was a proud member of ASAE, so it is certainly a good thing to be working for such a respected association.

2. Tell us about the community manager role – we know it’s completely new, ASAE hasn’t had this role before.  Where does it sit in the structure of ASAE, and what are the main tasks you’re responsible for?

I am located in the web strategies department, which is under the broader communications department under Robb Lee, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer.  I work with the rest of the web team to make sure our social media efforts reflect our overall online strategy as well as work closely with the rest of the communications department. I also lead a cross functional social media team that has participants from across the organization. We meet monthly and discuss what’s worked and what hasn’t worked in the social spaces as well as share what we’re doing to build an online community.  I am responsible for our social media platforms while strategizing with other departments on how we can best use each platform to best benefit our members.  So far, I have worked on developing a social media ecosystem and guidelines for several platforms while creating content schedules around our large conferences. My focus right now is moving into the engagement space in social media. ASAE has done a good job at listening in social media, but not always engaging others and letting folks know we’re listening. My goal is to truly bring ASAE into the conversation about our industry.

3.  Will you be mostly participating in outposts like the ASAE LinkedIn group, their Facebook pages, or running their Twitter accounts?  Or will you be mostly managing the private community?

Currently, I am working on content strategies for Twitter and the event Facebook pages.  We have several staff members involved in Collaborate, and I hope to do more in the future. So yes, you absolutely will be seeing more of me personally and ASAE generally engaging online—and in different ways than you’ve seen us engaging in the past. We hope you enjoy our participation, but if you don’t, we hope you’ll let us know how we can improve—we’re still listening.

4.  As a new community manager, what were the most important things for you to do first, in order to get to know the community?  Any advice for others in the same boat?

I was lucky to be able to connect with many of our members at the Annual Meeting in August.  I am also monitoring our active members online and engaging with them through Twitter.  I would recommend replying and following members on Twitter, so they begin to see you as their social media connection to your organization.

5.  What hurdles have you had to overcome so far?  Tell us about a situation where you successfully argued a case for doing something your own way.

I have been working to give the online voice of ASAE more of a distinct personality. I think there’s a growing comfort with people showing their personality in these tools and while it can be a gradual shift, I think we’re in a better place than we were when I started in May.

In addition, leading up to the Annual Meeting, we were working off a content calendar that didn’t work with my natural work flow and wasn’t working for the team.  Since the meeting, I’ve integrated a new format that is easier for me and the team, and it’s working really well.

6. Give us your impressions of #ASAE11, which I know was your first ASAE Annual meeting.  From your point of view as community manager, what kinds of things did you plan to do during the meeting?  Any surprises?  Any stories to share?

ASAE 11 was a very rewarding experience.  Before the show, I had limited interaction with members, so I was unsure about the impact that I was having.   During the show, I spent a lot of time in the online engagement lounge meeting with members and monitoring the continuous Twitter stream.  It was wonderful to be able to see the immediate impact of my work and meet many online friends in person for the first time.

During the block party on the last night, I announced on Twitter to come and find me, so I could connect with our members. I was able to meet more ASAE members and hear about their rewarding experiences attending ASAE 11.

7.  What should we expect from ASAE’s community building efforts in the future?  Any plans you can share, things to look out for?

I am working to advance the three-step social media strategy that ASAE identified when I started as Listen->Engage->Empower.  I am building a multi-step engagement plan that involves bringing more of our members in and creating a member driven space.  We are launching a separate Facebook page for the technology conference, which we plan on sharing some behind the scenes information and allowing the attendees to connect prior to and after the show.

8.  You’ve been part of the community a while, so I feel like many of us know you personally.  Is there anything you’d like to say to anyone reading whom you haven’t met face to face yet?

Yes – Let’s meet!  I really enjoy meeting members and learning from their own unique experiences.  The association industry is so varied, and I learn from each and every person. It helps me do my job better by meeting our members, so I can engage with and share information that would be useful for them.  I am happy to meet with anyone either when I’m on the road or if you swing through DC.  You can also find me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/mandystahl), LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/mandystahl) or on Twitter (www.twitter.com/mandydc).

 

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