Jesse Ferrell

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The Daily Job of a Community Manager

June 23, 2011; 12:57 PM ET

What exactly do I DO for Accuweather? I'm a meteorologist, right? So do I forecast? What's a typical day in the life of Jesse Ferrell at AccuWeather? I do serve a very unusual job function here - a very one of a kind position, that I've helped craft over the years, that doesn't involve any operational forecasting but manages to involve two of my favorite things - computers (specifically the Internet and Social Networking) and weather.

HISTORY (1997-2009):

(this section removed, re-purposed and inserted (italicized) into a more recent version of this blog)

MORE RECENTLY:

I started using Twitter and Tumblr in 2007 or 2008, then we opened our Facebook Page in Spring 2009. Facebook has become a huge part of my job here at AccuWeather. We have 115,000 Fans and I am the Primary Administrator. This means that I am (mostly, the news staff helps too) responsible for interacting with our Fans, posting regional weather stories to them, and getting feedback for our news stories and UGC (user-generated content) for our stories and videos.

Shortly after we began sinking more time into Social Media in general, the department's name changed to Digital Media and we formed a Strategic, then later, Social Media, Team. I continue to serve on those. In those meetings we decide what we're doing on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and other Social Networking sites, both in the short-term, with the current weather situation or company marketing, and in the long-term, strategically.

Like most people in the Digital Media department or anywhere at AccuWeather other than Forecasting or System Operations, I work a typical Monday - Friday work schedule. Some Summers in the past, I worked an earlier schedule -- getting up at 5 AM sucked but being home before the thunderstorms started in the afternoon was nice during Summer (I'm a bit of a storm enthusiast). These days I work typically 8:30 - 4:30.

The first thing I do when I get up in the morning is check the AccuWeather.com Facebook Pages (we have several celebrity pages in addition to my personal account and our corporate page. I'm checking for spam or inappropriate content, while getting a feel for what our fans are saying today, in new posts, or in comments to the posts from yesterday. I also check the AccuWeather.com Photo Gallery and Forums to approve photos, comments and profiles. I moderate all of those properties along with some volunteers, mostly from outside AccuWeather. I then head into work. AccuWeather HQ is only about 2 miles from my house, so sometimes I walk, if I'm feeling energetic.

When I drive, I typically park out front by the lobby unless it's really hot, in which case I'll try to get there early enough to get the "sweet spot" space where the building's eastern tower will shade my car around 3-4 pm which really helps (I hate getting into a hot car). After getting the computer docked and booting up (I carry a laptop so I can have access to the same data at home) and the TV on (I monitor major news media out of the corner of my eye during the day for anything weather-related), I hit the lounge for a glass of water, and then I'm back at my desk, where you see me on the J-CAM.

First business is to check email. If there's anything urgent from anyone high up the food chain I'll hammer out a response (more on the types of emails I get below). I then review Google News feeds briefly to find any exciting stories that I might want to bring up in the "8:30 Meeting" where we discuss what is happening in the world of Weather News and how we will cover it on AccuWeather.com (this meeting is run by Henry Margusity). That meeting is every morning and involves forecasters, video broadcasters, news managers and more. I am there to suggest Social Media content that we might want to use in the news stories, and because I sometimes have information about products or websites that we need to promote that day on AccuWeather.com.

After the meeting it's back to checking Facebook (not only our pages, but what my friends are saying about the weather, and what Tech outlets are saying about Social Media), checking email and working on my list of projects. I get a some emails from internal people (or people walking up behind me, which is why you see the rear-view mirror attached to my monitor on the J-CAM) wanting to know if I can suggest content or organization for new web pages or web sites, or asking for advice on Social Media projects or Sales. I occasionally get "Tier 2" support questions from our Call Center in the case where they can't answer a question from a client about AccuWeather.com's website or subscription service, specifically RadarPlus.

I used to do a lot of large project specification for major website additions or improvements - for example a new layout and new content for the AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center. For projects like that I will do a lengthy project proposal, working with designers who do mock-ups that I can "storyboard" (show how they interrelate and annotate with notes on what programs or systems the data will come from). That document, when approved by management, gets turned in to the programmers who estimate the different parts of the project, and (based on management approval) may need to be revised. I work with the programmers as they create the new product/site and then review it before and after it goes online to make sure that it meets specifications.

These days, however, Social Media takes up most of my time. Small projects or action items are assigned from the Social Media Team meetings, and these small projects take up most of my "free" time. I have to specify what we want to do, why it makes business sense, and create plans for how the tools will be used. I also keep an eye on the competitors, Social Media and otherwise, and relate any information on new products or services from them, to my boss.

And of course I get emails from blog readers like you, or Comments on my blog, which usually ask specific questions about where to find weather data or set up weather gadgets. So through most of the day I work back and forth between answering emails, monitoring Facebook and Twitter, and the aforementioned projects. I have a meetings too -- despite email, not everything can be solved electronically and I am typically in a handful meetings per week. Add all that together and you get my weekly duties.

Over lunch time I typically eat something I brought from home (to save money) though occasionally a group of us will get together and go into State College for lunch. During lunch, if I'm eating in, I check Google Reader to keep up with weather or tech blogs that I read.

That's about it - I hope this gives you a window into what it is that I do for AccuWeather.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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Jesse Ferrell
Jesse Ferrell's WeatherMatrix blog covers extreme weather worldwide with a concentration on weather photos and Social Media.