Longest Shortest Time: Community Management Crybaby?

It’s a social media story as old as time. Woman starts a successful parenting podcast and an active social media group emerges, eventually growing to almost 20,000 moms in the target demo; some existing fans, some who had never heard of its own namesake.

The Facebook group grows and grows, and affinity-specific groups spring up, all associated and bearing the podcast’s name (the group becomes even larger than the Fan Page for the show). And then, just as the podcast finds a new distributor after being canceled, and as this magical social media groundswell is becoming too large to handle without some hands-on community management — — the host of the podcast takes this amazing organic, committed and passionate group of moms and … shuts the whole thing down.

If you were expecting a happier ending — you’re not alone. This appears to be the true story of the Longest Shortest Time Mamas Facebook group, and it’s incredibly baffling. Hillary Frank, the podcaster who stars in this ill-fated social media fairytale is making some very odd and confusing choices and as a listener, fan and social media professional I can’t figure them out. Who takes a community and kills it? Why?

Yes, it’s true — the main group has become unwieldy, as there are only one or two moderators, and Hillary herself rarely posts. And because they aren’t all podcast listeners (“there’s a podcast?”), you sometimes get some POV-outsiders.

So, there has been some mudslinging and some drama llamas, but — nothing that couldn’t have been handled by investing in even a part-time social media or community manager.

I’ll admit to not being as involved in the main group, as I had found some great offshoot groups, and I’ll even admit to some shit-stirring in a heated debate about trigger warnings … but was it really that bad?

I can’t see anything in this story except a Social Media Marketing Fail. Frank appears to be scrambling now, trying to find “alternatives” after already encouraging people to remove themselves from the group so she doesn’t have to do it manually. She has asked people to find a spin-off group that best fits them, and told the spin-off groups that in order to stay associated with the Longest Shortest Time podcast, they must allow her to conduct some market research monthly and some other basic requirement along with a nebulous “rule” about people. But I am not sure what the benefit would be for the admins of these splinter groups — some who have capped the group size and have waiting lists hundreds deep. What do these groups gain by conducting market research for a podcaster that has turned her back on a community?

Why, in the age where advertisers are starting to finally understand social media metrics and placing their money where the word of mouth is — would you limit this incredible exposure? As a social media and audience development professional, coming from the parenting space — I really can’t figure out why she wouldn’t be presenting this growth and group potential to advertisers.

So Hillary, if you are out there and listening — let’s talk? I can give you the names of some great social media and community managers who can help you actually grow this group, build out your brand and find new opportunities for you to grow and attract even more advertising dollars. What’s holding you back?