Daily Archives: October 29, 2013

A community with flavor: conversation with 16 Handles’ Adam Britten

I had the privilege of having a chat with Adam Britten (@AdamBritten), the community manager behind one of my personal favorite brands, 16 Handles (@16Handles), a frozen yogurt phenomenon located in my native East Coast. Adam had a lot to say about experimenting in the social space, growing your audience/community, and froyo (duh). Read on for a glimpse into our Google+ hangout.

@AdamBritten of @16Handles!

@AdamBritten of @16Handles!

Trying something new

My favorite thing about talking to Adam was his passion for the brand. He truly loves 16 Handles and every customer, and it shows in every piece of content he produces. It is because of this passion that he has no problem taking risks with the brand, despite it being smaller in size and perhaps having a smaller national reach than some of its competitors (i.e. Yogurtland). This is probably best emulated through Adam’s Snapchat campaign, which ran earlier this year in January. He realized Snapchat was one of the only platforms that brands did not instantaneously jump on, but also knew it was a platform on which the core 16 Handles user lived. Britten recalled his Mother’s use of scratch-off coupons she received from Kohl’s that were only redeemable at the register. He took this idea and transferred it onto Snapchat, sending users who added 16 Handles as a Snapchat friend coupons that were in essence, only redeemable at the point of purchase (Snapchats expire after 10 seconds or less). The campaign was a huge success, and even recently won a Mashie, Mashable’s new Marketing Awards, in the “Rising Star” category.

16 Handles' Mashie Trophy! (via @16Handles)

16 Handles’ Mashie Trophy! (via @16Handles)

Organic Growth

Many brands, especially those of a larger and more corporate nature, require SEO/metric deliverables each week, to prove to executives the reach social media is bringing to the brand’s community and how effective that is. In Adam’s case, he is not required to deliver any formal reports or numbers to his senior executives (although, he does that anyway, just because) or meet any numeric goals. Instead, Adam chooses to set these goals for himself. For example, each month, he strives to grow the 16 Handles’ following at a more rapid rate than the month before. It is this mentality that makes Adam a better community manager, because he constantly pushes 16 Handles to its fullest potential.

Flavors on flavors on flavors

Best part of Adam’s job? He also works with the operations team. AKA he helps them brainstorm, develop, and TASTE all of 16 Handles’ new flavors! Could there BE a better job? He told me they just finalized the flavor lineup for 2014, and that there are a few surprises in store. I can’t wait!


Thanks again, Adam, for taking the time to chat with me — I thoroughly enjoyed it!



Panel Highlights: Communities are Unique

In this week’s panel, we were introduced to three experts–David Yarus (MRY), Morgan Johnston (JetBlue), and Nick Cicero (LiveFyre). Throughout the panel, each offered insight and shared experiences from their respective companies. Insights from this panel, as well as the material I’ve learned in the course thus far, have allowed me to draw a conclusion about community management: communities are unique, so Community Managers must be unique as well.


Most of the experts’ responses to Jenn’s questions were prefaced with “it depends on the type of organization you have” or “it depends on the types of roles and responsibilities you have”. It became very clear that this panel would be unique–we were hearing from three very different companies and, therefore, three very different Community Managers.

Here’s where we see some differences:

Structure — team set-up will vary across organizations. The idea of role clarity came up a few times in the chat. Important positions are becoming more identifiable, but role definitions still vary across organizations. Some organizations will have a few community managers working in a small department while others will devote several departments to social and the community.

  • MRY has many teams working together: Distribution, Creative, Strategy, and Analytics. The CMs work with all of these teams to focus on a broad spectrum of tasks including developing strategies, writing posts, and monitoring activity. All activity is sent through legal for approval (if needed), and all content is sent through analytics to track success and impact.
  • Jet Blue handles social via three teams. Corporate Communications, where Morgan lives, owns all narrative and storytelling responsibilities and has about 3 people. The Marketing/Commercial team takes those ideas and figures out how to come up with content that ties stories together. Customer Support handles all day-to-day engagement on social platforms and redirects social communication within the organization and has about 26 people.
  • LiveFyre has three main teams at play: Marketing, Strategy, and Customer Service. The Customer Service team deals with issues regarding LiveFyre, while marketing and strategy work to create campaigns and brand awareness for outside companies. The community manager is a community manager for other community managers (wow).

Content – In order to stay successful, organizations must post the content that makes sense for them. We’ve learned that not all strategies are beneficial for all organization. Each is after something very specific, and the Community Member must match that with his or her strategies.

JetBlue handles a customer issue. Taken from twitter.com/jetblue

JetBlue handles a customer issue. Taken from twitter.com/jetblue

  • MRY and LiveFyre are in a similar boat because they both must focus on creating campaigns, developing strategies, and being advocates for other companies. Their main content is not specific to each of their organizations but rather on promoting and managing the content of other sites.
  • Jet Blue, on the other hand, is incredibly customer service oriented, and they must be in order to stay successful. Most of the content monitored by the community management team promotes the service and handles customer issues.

Crisis – It’s clear that all organizations will face some sort of crisis that will require managing. Crisis definition will be different across all companies, and the means for going about crisis management will vary as well.

  • MRY: A “crisis” would occur when a student ambassador posts premature content on his or her Twitter page in which the mother corporation does not approve. Crisis management at a company dealing with young people is simple because David “treats people like people”. A simple text will clear up the situation.
  • LiveFyre: LiveFyre is unique because the CM team must stay on its toes to handle crises of multiple organizations. The crisis he discussed was an overflow of negative comments on the page focusing on hatred towards Subway and Michael Vick. In the end, they had to remove certain comments and were asked to stop communicating with the community until certain information was cleared up.
  • Jet Blue: For Jet Blue, crisis management is crucial. Jet Blue has established enough credibility to get away with certain crisis management strategies. They have been upfront enough with their customers in the past and gained a sense of trust. Because of that trust, they are able to say “we’re transparent, and we’d love to be transparent, but sometimes, we can’t give you all of the information you want to hear.”


Don’t get me wrong, it’s all still fairly similar! While specifics are going to vary, the overall concept will be the same for all. You have to do things that will make your community happy and keep your members coming back for more. The same structure or strategy won’t work for every single organization, and there is no right answer. You must have a strong knowledge of the type of organization you are as well as the type of community you have in order to understand the kind of Community Manager you need to be.