Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Man Behind iFroggy: A Community Manager Review

Patrick O’Keefe, owner and founder of the iFroggy Network (www.ifroggy.com) has over 10 years of experience creating and managing online communities. He has an obvious passion for online communities and continues to maintain, create and promote them through the iFroggy Network. Patrick was kind enough to participate in an hour-long interview that discussed his experiences in the industry as well as his opinions on topics related to the evolution of Community Management and how someone can approach managing their own communities.

patrick-headshot1About Patrick

Patrick has been managing online communities for 10+ years and has published several papers and wrote the book “Managing Online Forums”, a practical guide to managing online communities and social spaces. Along with his published work, he blogs about online community at ManagingCommunities.com, his favorite record label at BadBoyBlog.com and more at patrickokeefe.com (O’Keefe, About Patrick O’Keefe, 2013). Patrick has a great deal of knowledge about community management and often speaks about its practice at conferences and events which have been held at Northwestern University, South by Southwest Interactive and North Carolina State University.

Based on the interview that I conducted with Patrick on March 22nd, 2013, he’s had an interest in community management for at least 15+ years, dating back to when AOL was the popular ISP and Geocities was a modern platform. He’s had an interest with people, connecting them and how each person can contribute to the creation and continued development of a community. Throughout the years the platforms have continually gotten better, but the purpose is the same: people connecting and contributing to a certain topic.

Patrick’s passion for online communities has led him to creating popular communities such as KarateForums.com, a martial arts discussion forum, and phpBBHacks.com, a PHP bulletin board platform discussion. The team at iFroggy assists with the management of these communities. All of these sites and more can be found on the iFroggy Network, which provides an easy way for users to find other communities that they may be interested in.

Tips from Patrick on Starting a community and managing its evolution

Through our interview and Patrick’s own blog postings, he provides several tips for starting an online community. One of my own questions to the iFroggy owner was “how do you go about starting your own online community?” Patrick answered that he has many ideas and referred to his blog posting on ManagingCommunities.com. There’s a certain commitment required to start a community, this is not something you want to do if you’re looking for a quick turnaround without any investment of time.

The Power of Un-popular

The Power of Un-popular

Targeting your audience is extremely importing when starting a community. Your community is not going to cater to everyone, you have to consider who you are trying to appeal to, who you want to appeal to and then go after them (O’Keefe, I’m Starting an Online Community, Do You Have Any Tips?, 2013). Previous in the semester I wrote a paper on “The Power of Unpopular” a book by Erika Napoletano that underscores this concept of targeting your audience. Communities cannot cater to everyone in the world, you need to define the audience.

Aside from tips for starting your own community, we briefly discussed handling change within an established community. Patrick has a few blog posts related to managing change, generally the message being “give everyone as much advance notice as possible” if people know that the change is happening prior, the fallout will be less severe (O’Keefe, Advance Notice is Essential to Successful Change on Your Online Community, 2013). Change is a scary thing and the members of your community must be aware of it prior to it taking effect.

Interview with Community Manager Deb Ng

Deb Ng is an exceptional community organizer and genuinely kind person.   After speaking with her for only moments, I realized that she is an exceptionally warm, friendly, interesting, caring individual and a “people person”.

She identifies as a social media enthusiast, oversharer, and author of Online Community Management for Dummies. She laughs hard at her own jokes (and others) and currently blogs at kommein.com. You can follow her on twitter @debng or find her on Google+. Deb  has always loved writing and started as a freelance writer.  In 2005, she started an online community for freelance writers in the form of a blog that grew into the number one community for freelance writers and became a network of eight blogs which she later sold. In 2008, she was offered her first actual job as a community manager with Blog Talk Radio. That was it; she was hooked!

Deb Ng embodies everything we have learned about being a community manager that wears many hats: leader, content developer, moderator, community advocate, mediator and analyst. I asked Deb to talk her strategy as she goes about starting a new community. This is what she shared:

  • Determine who is your community? Pinpoint the types of people you want to reach. Create a profile of what a member looks like. Determine your demographics.
  • Ask “why are you building this community?” “What do you want to achieve?” The answers will help with goal setting.
  • Determine your goals to create the campaign and talking points.
  • Find out where these people hang out. Why would they want to join my community? What is special about you?
  • Give them a compelling reason to follow you. If you are just like everyone else they won’t follow or engage.
  • Once you have them engaged, you can get them to talk to each other. This will lead to hangouts and meetups. Now you have something to work with! You can engage people off line as well as online.
  • Then you can start recruiting, online and offline. Create an atmosphere of brand advocates that will share your message and help new members to feel welcome.
  • Look for bloggers to interact with. They will be a great asset but don’t forget to send them some “love” and reciprocation.
  • Move the community to a conference setting. Create an experience for them so they want to share this community with others.
  • Brands that get the most buzz are the ones that are the most creative. Good examples – Chobani, Oreo.

As I listened to Deb Ng, I recognized that she was the embodiment of the things we had read and learned in our class. The books we used, the articles we read and the information we gained from our Google+ hangouts were all brought to life in this lively conversation with an active community manager. Let me leave you with these best practices from Deb Ng’s book,Online Community Management for Dummies:

online cm book*Stay impartial

*Have a regular presence in your community and others

*Respond in a timely manner

*Keep a positive tone

*Be supportive of the brand and the community

*Forge relationships

*Promote the community

*Be passionate about the community

*Stay on top of trends

*Continue Your Education

 

Use the guidelines provided here, keep Deb’s words of wisdom and experience in mind and have fun! All of this will lead you to great success as a community manager.

 

 

Meshing with Mashable

photo

Mashable is the go-to brand for all things social-media related and has established itself as a well-respected news blog. For the #cmgrclass final paper, I had the opportunity to interview Meghan Peters, Community Manager for Mashable. Meghan oversees social media strategy and reader engagement projects for Mashable, which has distinguished itself as the largest independent website dedicated to providing the latest news on social media for the “connected generation.”

Mashable’s Approach to Community

One thing that resonated with me was Meghan’s approach to managing and responding to her audience’s feedback both negative and positive. One thing she made sure to stress was killing them with kindness. Community managers always have to be mindful of their outward expressions. Anything they say or do has the potential to negatively impact the community. Even if you do not agree with what one of your users has suggested or said about your brand, this is not fair ground to retaliate. Without active members and users, there is no community. Meghan recognizes this. She always understands, which we’ve discussed in class, the importance of acknowledging relevant content posted by members of the community. Not every post warrants a response, some members are intentionally provoking brand officials. This type of commentary should be ignored, which Meghan mentioned as one of her tactics. I find this to be important as I take interest in how companies and brands alike go about caring for their communities and if they’re actually delivering what they promise.

Ambassadors?

I asked Meghan if Mashable had a formal brand ambassador program. Unfortunately, they do not. I do feel that if I were granted the opportunity to be an asset for a well-known brand such as Mashable, I’d vouch for a brand ambassador program. During my moderation week for the #cmgrclass, I did a lot of research on brand ambassador programs and how they are deemed beneficial for companies. Since Mashable has such a strong connection with its users, I certainly see value in launching a brand ambassador program to enhance the brand’s image and evoke brand loyalty and awareness amongst future and current members of the community. Mashable already knows who their most loyal users are, according to Meghan, the brand should utilize the outside help of people who are eager to spread the word and spark word-of-mouth marketing. Additionally, Meghan mentioned events, in which Mashable personally interacts with its members. As Jenn Pedde said during one of our Google+ hangout sessions, “have something for your brand ambassadors to do.” Since Mashable solely exists online, I think humanizing the brand would be a great strategy to attract more attention and drive traffic to the site’s homepage. The ambassadors could host social media learning labs and skills building workshops on behalf of the brand. Since the site seems to be a popular choice among professors within the iSchool and communications-related fields, articles published to the site can be reference during the sessions conducted by the ambassadors.

To learn more about my interview with Meghan Peters, send your thoughts to the #cmgrclass!

Community Manager Interview with Allison Berger, TicketLeap

For my #CMGRclass Community Manager interview, I chatted with Allison Berger who is the community manager at TicketLeap.

TicketLeap

TicketLeap is an online ticket sales and event marketing company based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They specialize in seamless ticketing that is adaptable for events of all sizes. TicketLeap differentiates themselves from larger ticket companies by being fully customizable, offering a mobile box office and reserved seating, being built for social, and having extensive analytics.

Allison’s Role as a Community Manager

Allison’s main responsibilities as a Community Manager at TicketLeap include:

  • creating content for social media platforms
  • composing e-blasts and developing other marketing efforts
  • supporting the TicketLeap community through social outlets such as Facebook and Twitter
Allison’s Day to Day as a Community Manager

For Allison, each day as a community manager at TicketLeap is different which keeps her excited and engaged. Unlike many professionals, one of Allison’s first tasks in the morning is to go on Facebook. She also opens TweetDeck, works on her editorial calendar, creates content, does research, and spends a lot of time reading about community management. CMGR_interview_blogimageReading up on what is going on with community management, the new trends, and the latest tools is a very important part of her job since it is changing so often.

How Allison Connects with the TicketLeap Community

TicketLeap has many social networks they use to connect with their community, such as Pinterest, Tumblr, and Google+. But Allison says Facebook and Twitter are the networks she uses the most. TicketLeap really focuses on social integration as part of their ticketing strategy and Facebook and Twitter are the main networks their community members use. Allison connects with her audience in other ways too. She tries out new tactics and launches new projects to see how her community will react.

The Difference Between a Community Manager and a Social Media Manager

Allison has given a lot of thought about this topic. She is a community manager, but she also has many of the responsibilities someone with a social media manager title would have. The big difference for her, is that a social media manager does strictly content, and a community manager is more out in the world and wears many hats. She thinks that a community manager is a very broad title, whereas a social media manager title is more specific.

Why Allison Wanted to Be a Community Manager

The community manager job position appealed to Allison because she likes to make conversation, help others, and she really loves the internet. Talking, sharing, and writing are part of Allison’s nature, and that is why she thinks she is so drawn to the role of a community manager. Allison says that from an early age she learned the language of how to talk to people on the internet. She has been blogging and Facebooking since grade school, which she says has helped her become a successful community manager. She said communicating over the internet is not something that is complicated. The key factors are:

  • being friendly
  • being easy to talk to
  • making sure you talk/write so that people can relate to you
CMGR_interview_featuredimage
Tips for Aspiring Community Managers

Allison says the most important thing for aspiring community managers to do is to make connections. She says to get a twitter account and start talking.

Like other successful community managers, Allison has her own blog and a large personal social network that has helped her in her professional career. She wants to make sure that someone who wants to be a community manager is not overwhelmed by the words “make connects” or “network”. It can be simple and easy. She says, “just reach out to people by replying to tweets– you never know where it can take you!”

A Profile on Community Management with VaynerMedia’s Harry Barron

vaynerI recently had the opportunity to interview Harry Barron, a community manager with VaynerMedia.  Through the interview Barron lent insights as to what life is like as a community manager with a community and media management firm, and shared some of the tactics and practices that VaynerMedia employs in its quest to manage the online communities of its many clients.

The Company

VaynerMedia was launched in 2009 as an endeavor between Gary Vaynerchuk and his brother AJ, and began as a small community and media management firm with the founders and three of AJ’s friends. Since that time, VaynerMedia has grown to have two offices, one in New York City and the other in San Francisco, and has hundreds of employees and a varied client portfolio.

The Community Manager

Barron started working with VaynerMedia in November 2012, only several months after his graduation from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. He is tasked with managing the online communities of one of VaynerMedia’s large, global clients, through their Facebook and Twitter accounts. He performs his job by managing these online outlets daily, and working in tandem with several other employees on the same client account who are tasked with managing various online outlets of the client, and by working with several departments within VaynerMedia to effectively manage the online communities.

Takeaways from the Interview

One of the most interesting things I gathered from the interview was how some online communities are managed in a departmentalized fashion.  While I had previously functioned under the assumption that all online communities were managed by one basic entity, information garnered from Barron proved that assumption wrong. At VaynerMedia they employ a segmented approach.

There are teams assigned to each client, and depending on the size of the client, a variety of community managers are assigned to manage different facets of the online community. For a large, global company such as the one that Barron is assigned to, the online outlets are broken up and several of them will be assigned to different community managers to allow them to better focus their attention. For large clients, having one community manager manage all aspects of a client’s online presence would spread them too thin and impact the amount of interaction and observation they could feasibly apply to each outlet.

Outside of the teams, there are departments within the company that are shared among the CM teams. The analytics department and the social media strategy departments are just two examples of this. Instead of having the community managers handle the analytics and the strategy, VaynerMedia has created entire departments to handle these specific tasks. From the work of these departments, the information gleaned from analytics is shared with the client team on a weekly and monthly basis so that they can adapt their content and communication strategies. The social media strategy departments assess this data as well, and plan new strategies to share with the client teams.

 Surprises

While I was surprised to learn that there is minimal user guideline material applied to Barron’s client’s Facebook and Twitter proceedings, and also that a more comprehensive content calendar was not employed, after giving some consideration to the context of these choices they began to make more sense.

I was shocked to learn that Barron’s client opts not to take advantage of brand ambassadors, particularly since it is a global company that has as many avid fans as it does critics. While the current strategy does recognize community members who are particularly active by awarding them swag, there is little outside of that to recognize and encourage excellence in community members.

The Nutshell

Overall, I found the interview with Barron to be very information, particularly since it opened my eyes to the tactics of community management in a departmentalized fashion. While the segmented nature of community management for large clients at firms like VaynerMedia may be a bit off from what I had chalked up community management to in my head, I have learned that sometimes the sheer size and scope of a company occasionally demands it. And while this tactic may change the way that analytics or strategy impact the role of a community manager, the essence of monitoring and communicating with a community remain the same.

A Look Inside Chobani’s Community Management

Chobani peaked my interest as a potential subject for this #CmgrClass final paper based on my personal consumption of the Greek yogurt brand. I also noticed,  more than once, that the brand represented a great corporate narrative and that the brand was doing fantastically creative advertising and online communication.

Chobani Products

Chobani Products

Here’s the Chobani story.

In CentraI New York, a CEO from Turkey bought an abandoned dairy plant and started manufacturing Greek-style yogurt. The “good “ that resulted in the community and its economy produced like business results. In six years, Chobani became America’s #1 Greek Yogurt brand. As I’ve watched, I thought some of that rise had to be due to the superb online presence and community management work being done by the brand. I began to follow Chobani on Twitter, and when my tweet to @Chobani received a quick response, I decided to ask if the team might be my subject for IST 620’s final paper interview.

I was pleasantly surprised to receive a positive response. This blog tells more about the question-answer process that flowed from that connection, and how and why a small, in-house Chobani team fields huge numbers of digital customer engagements.

Ashley Butler is the community coordinator I connected with from first tweet. She answered my 11 questions, with responses composed together with her boss, Emily Schildt, Chobani’s Director of Consumer Engagement.

The community management team of 11 works from an open-space office in New York City, fielding customer comments and questions and listening to their remarks around the clock. That data is mined for customer service as well as product R & D.

The team is closely integrated with the other business segments (marketing, advertising, events, public relations, customer service, sales, and market research) that, in my view, presents an optimal model.

The Chobani “brand” is characterized by simple, pleasant design and friendly, easy-going, “human” talk, presented in an engaging, “fun” style, according to Ashley. Though the workload is quite heavy, Chobani responds to “each and every tweet containing ‘Chobani’,” it reports. The online traffic usually nears 2,000 tweets a day (180 tweets per each of 11 team members).

So friendly, polite Ashley answered my 11 questions. I was able to additionally capture some of her personality through an online blog profile she provided (below).  Ashley and her team function as follows:

Ashley Butler, Chobani Community Coordinator

Ashley Butler, Chobani Community Coordinator

  • Community coordinators are structured as an in-house group (Digital Communications) vs. a vendor-provided service
  • The team grew from one person in 2011 to 11 people now, and works around the clock
  • Members are housed together in an open-cubicle space in New York
  • All tasks are handled by all team members. Community Coordinators’ roles “encompass many tasks, including engagement, publishing content, communicating and harboring influencer relationships,” Ashley reports.
  • All response is authentic and on-the-spot. Per Ashley: “No scripts, just human! Of course, we have some basic messaging to cohere to, and always maintain tone across channels.”

(See the other 10 community coordinators here, on this blog post: http://chobani.com/community/blog/2013/03/10-months-10-goals-our-10-for-10/.)

Chobani Offices, NYC (via Steve Rhineart)

Chobani Offices, NYC (via Steve Rhinehart)

The team fields also responses on these channels:

  • Two Facebook pages and two blogs (Chobani and Chobani Champions)
  • Three Twitter handles (Chobani, Chobani Champions and Chobani SoHo)
  • Pinterest, Instagram and Google+ accounts.

From all angles, this is the group of people in communication with the team potentially at any one time industry- entry description) (numbers as of March 2013, Shorty Awards :

  • 51,000 followers on Twitter  (as of today, it is 57,907 following on      Twitter)
  • 613,000 fans on Facebook
  • 42,000 followers on Pinterest
  • 16,000 followers on Instagram

The group is also responsible for some of the content, and you can see that they experiment in a special Chobani Kitchen which provides the setting for collaboration, creative ideas, new images and recipes to try, and the spirit that comes out of a collaborative environment.

So, thank you very much, Ashley Butler, for helping to make my assignment come to reality, and my curiosity about your community management function be satisfied.

Product/Brand image

Product/Brand image

For more information about Chobani’s social channels and community management model, look the company up at:

Website:  http://chobani.com/goreal/

Community section, website: http://chobani.com/community/

Blog: http://chobani.com/community/blog/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Chobani

Google +: https://plus.google.com/s/chobaniFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/Chobani?fref=ts

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/chobani

You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/user/ChobaniYogurt

Vine: Creative kitchen times and content hours at Chobani: https://vine.co/v/bg9hAgej5u7.)

Thank you, Ashley, and Thanks, Chobani. I appreciate your attention and responsiveness here, just as I did when I experienced it on Twitter.

 

 

Community Manager Interview with Jim Ducharme

Jim Ducharme is currently the Community Director with GetResponse. He is a veteran broadcaster and editor, but as GetResponse community manager, Jim is both a brand ambassador and customer advocate. I was fortunate enough to interview Jim Ducharme regarding his position as community manager. I interviewed Jim on April 17 via Skype and was able to record the interview using a recording tool. Jim appeared a colorful man, as he sported a black fedora, trendy glasses with a black frame, and well groomed white goatee. It was clear from his appearance and general enthusiasm that he was passionate about what he does and he strives in social interactions such as these.

In the Beginning…

Jim, now 50, began his career in radio, but after a few stops in computer programming and consulting, landed on an opportunity to become Community Director of GetResponse. GetResponse is a permission based email service provider where Jim has been working in his current position for nearly a year and half. Within GetResponse, Jim’s position as Community Director takes on many responsibilities. The primary responsibility within the organization is to be what Jim referred to as “the front man of the brand.” “People don’t talk to shoes, a logo is just a chunk of wood on a wall,” Jim explained. “What matter are the people behind the logo. If companies want to succeed in today’s social world, they need to have someone who accurately, fairly, and energetically represents your brand online and is willing to be accessible and tuned in so that they can be there to talk to people when they have questions or comments.” Jim continued to talk about the difference between community managers and PR people, by explaining the difference between push and pull marketing. You don’t just keep repeating your message over and over and hope people believe it,” Jim said. “Rather, you have to involve them in that message, and that’s pull marketing.”

The Day to Day

Jim attempted to explain his daily tasks as a community manager and role within GetResponse. He believes that community managers are born not made. “You have to thrive meeting new people, exchanging ideas, talking, interacting hearing,” Jim said. “I spend my entire day connecting with people, interacting, solving problems, and promoting GetResponse to different companies and communities.” One big thing Jim mentioned while discussing his role as a community manager, is that you cannot be too empathetic. He explained that people will always love you or truly hate you, but in the end “You have to try and balance that empathy with practical reality. There are days when I am upset about someone having problems or concerned about a situation, and I may even lose sleep over it. I am not scared to admit that because it translates into a passion that helps me do my job really well.”

The Wrong Way to Talk about Social Media

One part of the interview that I found quite interesting was regarding Jim’s take on social media. He believes that people talk about social media in the wrong way. There is no “dark side” of social media. Rather, technology does not make us, we make technology. When people talk about the dark side of social media, what they are really talking about is the dark side of human beings.

Jim provided me with a few words of advice for aspiring community managers…

1. Watch other community manager online and interact with other community managers

2. Listen more then you talk

3. Be a student of humanity and human nature rather then a student of technology

 

Susan Chavez: Building Community within the Junior League

The moment I saw that #CMGRClass students were to interview a community manager for our final assignment, I knew who I wanted as my subject.  I first met Susan Chavez in May 2011 when I attended a conference of The Association of Junior Leagues, International (AJLI), a nonprofit community impact and leadership development organization.  I later attended ’s AJLI’s fall 2011 conference to continue with AJLI’s social media curriculum.  As a member of the Junior League of Syracuse and one of over 150,00 Junior League members worldwide, I value the work that Susan does to advance the AJLI mission and was looking forward to understanding more about her work.

Susan Chavez

Susan Chavez, Nonprofit Social Media Consultant. (Photo from LinkedIn.)

Susan Chavez, Nonprofit Social Media Consultant, on LinkedIn

A New York City native, Susan attended school in upstate New York, earning a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Cornell University in 2003.  While in Ithaca, she became affiliated with the Cornell Public Service Center and following graduation, worked in its New York City office as a literacy educator furthering programs aimed to bridge the gap in summer education to underserved populations.

Susan’s work with the Public Service Center sparked her passion for nonprofit organizations.  After working with several New York-City-based not-for-profits in event planning, fund and grant development, and web development, Susan joined AJLI in 2006 as a Marketing and Communications Specialist.  Susan continued in that capacity through June 2010 when she relocated to San Francisco to become a nonprofit social media consultant.

Since then, Susan has continued her work with AJLI as a consultant.  Among the AJLI projects to which Susan has contributed are the establishment of an internal community on the AJLI website, where members can complete profiles, connect with other members, and join discussion forums; the creation of external communities on Facebook and Twitter; the development and execution of strategy for the Junior League blog, Connected; and the development and delivery of training via AJLI conferences and webinars.

Final Reflections

Jessica Murray and Susan Chavez. (Photo by author.)

Jessica Murray and Susan Chavez at AJLI’s fall conference in 2011. (Photo by author.)

Interviewing Susan was a fitting end to #CMGRClass, providing another real-world look at the life of a practicing community manager.  So, what did Susan reinforce for me?

  • Community managers wear many hats.  Susan reports that while she spends considerable effort to content planning, listening, and measurement, most of her time (35%) is devoted to content creation.
  • To a community manager, planning is key…  Susan estimates that she spends 25% of her time setting community strategy and planning content.  The creation of and adherence to a content calendar allows Susan and her teammates to develop content aligned with AJLI’s goals and work plans.
  • … but so is flexibility.  As important as the content calendar is, some flexibility must be retained for content coming from other sources.  This could be in the form of previously-unknown information just coming to light, announcements from partners or members, or major news affecting AJLI or a Junior League organization.
  • Measure what matters.  While it can be relatively easy to look at followers, mentions, and retweets, what does that contribute to a community’s underlying goal?  For Susan, as much as mentions and retweets indicate that content is being shared within members’ networks, AJLI’s primary objective is expanding the audience receiving their training.

How does Susan keep her skills fresh?  Which of her personal traits makes her well-suited to be a community manager?  Hint: be a lifelong student (vociferous reading helps), get social (go to conferences and local events), and be a cultural anthropologist (conduct research into the culture of communities).  Check out the entire interview in this YouTube interview (also embedded below).  Read more about Susan at her LinkedIn profile here.

What advice do you have for aspiring community managers?  What is your greatest reward as a community manager?

(Featured image, a word cloud of this blog post created by the author, generated using Wordle.net.)

Interviewing Community Manager – Adam Britten

Adam Britten has an amazing job. He gets to go to work every day and interact with happy people, engage an active and supportive community, work with a team that is receptive of his ideas, and best of all, he gets to work with froyo. There’s something about frozen yogurt that just seems to make for an incredibly rewarding job, and I can’t say I’ve ever met somebody who represents a frozen yogurt brand on social media who isn’t incredibly satisfied with their job. It’s this perfect combination of a fun treat that’s fairly good for you, the happiness it brings to customers, a delightful lifestyle and a product that basically sells itself, which opens up a world of marketing possibilities. Those possibilities apparently lead to fun and engaging social media campaigns and active communities around the brands. What’s not to love?

Camera fail. I'm the black square in this shot.

Camera fail. I’m the black square in this shot.

I interviewed Adam for my final assignment in #CMGRClass, to get a sense of his work life, and how he approaches community management. He’s the community manager for 16 Handles, a small chain of self-serve frozen yogurt shops based mainly on the East coast. His brand – and his work – is notable for being the first to adopt the popular picture sharing app, SnapChat, where picture messages can be viewed for only a few seconds before they disappear forever. Adam used the platform to offer a promotion to Handles fans, which got picked up by social media news outlets, trade magazines, even Wired. Innovation like that is just one way he works to make his employer look awesome on social media.

16 Handles is more than a yogurt company, which is apparent in all their online media. Their web site describes their mission to help make the world a better place by participating in green projects, planting trees, and improving communities. On Facebook, they share photos of their staff’s Earth Day improvement projects, on Instagram you’ll find pictures of the office dog (a frenchie named Handles) decked out in his very own 16 Handles hoodie. On Twitter, every fan gets a personal touch, whether they have a question, a complaint, or just want to say hello. Adam has ensured that online, 16 Handles is more than pictures of froyo, and is instead a very approachable and human brand.

Blog16-Handles

When you’re competing with giants like Red Mango and Pinkberry, and you’re established in a crowded city and a saturated market, it’s tough to stand out. And yet, here’s a brand who is recognized by Quick Service Retail Magazine, a trade publication focused on retail operations with small footprints and in-and-out service, as a company to keep an eye on. If social media were the judging criteria, 16 Handles would be high on the top of the list, posting engaging content and very plainly valuing its fans. In contrast, Pinkberry, Red Mango, and TCBY all share more product shots than anything, and often ignore their customers on Twitter, only responding to a few each day.

Speaking with Adam, it’s plain that he’s not only a social guy who loves making people happy, but a talented and driven community manager. He’s forward-thinking and proficient at marketing, he fully understands his business’ goals and works hard to attain them, and he’s on the lookout for every opportunity to be at the forefront of digital marketing. He loves his fans, and he goes out of his way to make sure they’re engaged and positive, while striving to get more bodies into their stores, get more franchisees interested in the company, and get 16 Handles’ name on more headlines. He’s certainly a model #CMGR.

Adam’s favorite froyo flavor is salted caramel. What’s yours?

Listening to your Audience or Community

I enjoyed being moderator for #CMGRclass and I particular liked the topic of Listening to Your Community, the readings I read, and the discussion amongst my classmates.

I opened the week by asking my classmates what are the things the communities they belong to do that bother them as well as asking what types of things would they do as a community manager to personalize the experience for their members. I received good feedback from my classmates.

In summary, #CMGRclass does not like:

  • When a community has conversations do not welcome differences of opinion
  • When community members are disrespectful to each other
  • Template responses that are not personalized
  • Unwanted advertisements
  • Receiving too many automated emails

#CMGRclass does like:

  • When CMs get to know some of their members on an individual basis
  • When CMs guide the conversation, not dominate
  • When companies/organizations use humans instead of automated systems
  • Direct interaction between follower and community manager/organization
  • Listening to feedback from your community

Steve Rhinehart gave a good example of how a coffee company has exceptional customer service and how they do that because they listen to their community. I enjoyed this quote from his post:

“It really goes to show how a bit of effort, a drive to create happy customers, and a bit of social networking can really make a company stand out, even one of the small guys.”

Jessica Murray stated that companies that have an engaged social presence gives her a warm and fuzzy feeling that makes her more likely and even want to do business with them. I agree with her—if social media is done right, companies will develop relationships with their customers that can lead to brand loyalty.

I really liked the Forbes article The 4 Pillars of Community Management, one being listening. By listening to feedback and social media metrics, you can evaluate your community. These were the tips:

  • Speaking directly with users, whether that be via social media, email, on the phone, or in person.
  • Asking users for feedback, either directly or by polling.
  • Measuring the brand’s social media analytics.
  • Monitoring online presence of the community — e.g., is your business what comes up when current or potential users are searching?

Overall, I learned that managing a community can be fun, but time consuming! However, if you as well as your community are engaged in the subject and interacting with each other, the discussion will be great and members can greatly benefit from each other.