The following is part of a week-long post series in celebration of #CMAD (Community Manager Appreciation Day – Jan. 28).

“How many hours a day do you allocate to community management?”

I get this question a lot. And it’s a tough one to answer. To be an effective community manager, you can’t just “check” on your community for a few minutes a day. You truly have to be embedded into your community — listening, connecting, engaging, adding value and not just broadcasting brand messages. Over time, you come to know how your community will respond to the type of content you post and in turn, they come to expect the type of content you will publish and the level of interaction they will get in return from the brand.

What does the role of a community manager look like on a daily basis? Here are a few essential aspects of the gig.

FUEL. It’s tempting to login first thing in the morning and answer @ replies or Facebook comments. Do yourself a favor and wake up. No one wants to read your morning gibberish.

LISTEN. Organized lists are your best friends. Establish a keyword framework that your brand consistently uses/targets and monitor what other people are saying. You’ll find people to engage with, content to syndicate or reply to and be able to stay on top of industry conversations.

REPLY. Don’t ask a question and then log out. Be prepared to engage with your community, to offer resources and most importantly, to be human. No one wants a reply to sound like an automated 1-800 number.

SCOUR. Google Reader is a true time saver. If you think you can find interesting content to post by “surfing the web,” you’re bound to spend mindless hours getting distracted by cat videos. Do yourself a favor and aggregate related blogs and Google searches into a reader. You’ll have content at your fingertips that you can schedule to post in advance.

GET CREATIVE. Think about the things that you personally like or share on social networks. If you’re engaging with a brand, it’s most likely because it’s relevant, entertaining, actionable and REAL. Keep this in mind when creating content and engaging with your own communities.

HAVE FUN. Managing a community should be fun. Relish the moments you watch a post go viral, laugh at the ridiculous comments you’re sure to receive and celebrate the milestones.

Happy #CMAD! Cheers to the hard-working community managers out there.

Image #5 credit: Shermeee

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