How I Work- Alex Beaton

Alex Beaton is a community manager for The Awesome Mitten, Family Video, Campus Commandos, and a few other startups. Her job includes marketing strategy (social media, email marketing, etc.) as well as offline and online community management.

After receiving her Political Science degree from Michigan State University, she worked for a lobbying firm. She quickly realized that she enjoyed the campaigning aspect of it, which is all about marketing making it an easy switch into the marketing field.

Her site, The Awesome Mitten, first started off as a side project and ended up taking off 4 years ago becoming one of her largest communities. Besides social media, she enjoys reading, watching TV shows, going to concerts, and also recently started blogging on her site.

What does your day look like?

I work remotely, so I get up at 6 AM and power through some work till about 10 AM, which is when I have my breakfast. Then I get back at it till about 11:30, which is when I head out to the gym and lunch.

After that, I allow some time to read or listen to music before I start back at it again at around 1:30 PM. Then after dinner I do some more work (life of a community manager), then towards the end of the night I watch some TV, make my to-do list for the next day, and I’m in bed by 10 PM.

What’s your favorite blog?

I read a lot and as a community manager it’s important not only to stay up on the industry but to constantly be sourcing content. So shout out to Feedly, one of my favorite tools, which is jam packed with great content.

There are a few blogs I read most consistently one of which is Buffer. They provide good, relevant, and useful content. A few other ones are SproutSocial, Ways We Work, and because I love my TV shows I love TVLine.

What’s your favorite book?

For business, Delivering Happinness: As a community manager you’re in a pseudo customer service role and your job is making people happy so that boo is a great read on that topic.

The Cuckoo’s Calling, by J. K. Rowling, is another favorite of mine.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? And what advice would you give others?

Not so long ago, while I was working in a corporate job, someone asked my why I was working there. They told me, “You’re not happy! Why do you waste time doing something you don’t love? Is it for the money?” So the biggest advice I was given was don’t let money drive you instead focus on quality of life and doing what you love.

“…don’t let money drive you and focus on quality of life and doing what you love.”

It might sound a bit cliche, and for me as a millennial you get put into this bucket that millennials don’t understand the value of hard work, which is frustrating. However, I think I did my time in the corporate world and now it’s time for me to do what I love.

Advice I would give to others is surround yourself with interesting and creative people and start having conversations. Even if it’s not someone who is seen as accessible, just reach out and you never know where that conversation can go. In today’s world, everyone is so connected.

I actually met my best friend 6 years ago on Twitter. I was looking for a logo for something and she reached out and a friendship was born. We’ve lived in the same state simultaneously for only 6 months, yet she’s one of my closest friend. So you never know when those connections will pay off.

What are some of your favorite tools?

  1. Buffer + Start A Fire ( I don’t think of Start A Fire as a stand alone tool, it sort of rolls right into Buffer because I don’t have to do anything, which is amazing!)
  2. BuzzSumo: to find engaging content and identify influencers
  3. King Sumo Headlines: it’s a plugin for WordPress that allows you to A/B test headlines, which is really helpful in creating shareable content.
  4. Worklife: a tool that allows you to put collaborative agendas on any calendar invite.

I actually wrote a blog post about some of my favorite tools you can check it out: 14 Online Tools to Get Your 2016 Started Right.

What do you do to save time?

Writing my to do list and prioritizing it the night before is the best thing I do to save time. I also put the estimated time next to each task just to eyeball how long I’ll spend on each task. At times, I might have a lot of things on my to-do list but most of them might only take me 10 minutes to do, so it makes it easier to digest.

Do you have anyone specific that motivates/inspires you?

There are a few people that I pay attention to and that I’m really interested in what they have to say:

  1. Paul Jarvis: His Sunday dispatches are awesome for anyone who considers themselves to be a creative.
  2. Jason Zook (Of IWearYourShirt fame): He actually has a podcast with Paul Jarvis, Invisible Office Hours. He’s very transparent in being an entrepreneur which I enjoy.
  3. Jonathan Williams: He started a cool project, Failure:Lab. It’s like TED Talks but for failures. Those events are some of the most inspiring because these people have experienced failure yet they still learned from all of it and now are doing amazing things.

What’s your favorite and least favorite thing about being a social media community manager?

  • Favorite: Talking to people. I love talking to people. That’s one of my favorite things especially when you see people getting excited about whatever your community is about.
  • Least Favorite: Talking to people! At times you have negative comments and trolls, I dislike that and dealing with complaints. Sometimes people can just drive me a bit nuts as well.

What’s your social media strategy?

I believe the cornerstone of a community is sharing good content. I’m a firm believer that you can’t expect people to follow and engage with you unless you provide them value, so every strategy that I create is based on that. It might not be my content, but other people’s good content. As long as I constantly provide value.

“I’m a firm believer that you can’t expect people to follow you and engage with you unless you provide them value…”

Also engagement is key — encouraging conversation is the first and foremost important thing

What is your hardest challenge with social media and being a community manager?

Turning off. As a community manager you are expected to always be responding to customers and engaging with the community. So it’s hard sometimes, such as on Saturday nights, to put down my phone and ignore it for a little while. Finding that balance with community managing can be a struggle for me.

Do you have any hacks that you’d like to share with us?

Start A Fire. It’s so simple, free and generates traffic. It’s a no-brainer.

Since I don’t only share our own content but also other people’s content, it can be a struggle keeping the readers aware that I got them that good content, so Start A Fire helped us with that.

We have 500 links with Start A Fire, 78,000 thousand pageviews and 16,000 badge clicks. We end up getting all these clicks for content that wouldn’t have been seen otherwise. It’s such an easy thing.

Do you have one rule you try to stick to?

I try to structure my weekends. I try not to get on my laptop on Saturdays!


You can follow Alex on Twitter.


This post is part of the ‘How I Work’ publication. Check it out for more interviews.

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