Monthly Archives: November 2013

Community Manager or Social Media Manager? A Checklist

How do you know if you’re a community manager or a social media manager?

Here’s a comparative checklist to see is what you do matches better with a Community Manager or Social Media Manager. Do you talk or listen? Are you aloof or involved? Are you more concerned with relationships or promotion?

Community Manager vs. Social Media Manager





























I learned a couple interesting things making this chart:

  • There is a lot of overlap between the two positions – especially in the tools that they use – but it’s mainly what they do with those tools that sets them apart.
  • Not only that, but while researching the difference, there’s a gray area. SMMs can take on CM roles if their position calls for it, and vice versa. Both positions can exist as a hybrid of the two, despite the title.

Most of that chart information was taken from here and here.

What do you think of this chart? See any big skills or major differences missing?

There’s No “I” in Team

#CMGRClass - 10/15 Panel

#CMGRClass – 10/15 Panel

After hearing from a few community management professionals it’s clear that no matter what kind of community you have, it takes a team to maintain it and it revolves around customer engagement. Three great examples of people who know a thing or two about community management are Morgan Johnston from JetBlue, David Yarus from MRY and Nick Cicero from LiveFyre. They all agreed that a community wouldn’t exist without a strategically created team behind it, and that transparency, engagement and treating humans like humans are keys to success. They also all come from different types of companies with different communities, but those core values stay the same throughout.


Johnston said that the first principals of JetBlue were talk and engage with customers. It was a strategy that translated nicely to the social spaces. JetBlue is known for its engagement with customers, but with such a large audience, it takes a solid team to manage the thousands of mentions the social accounts get every day. Johnston said social has become everyones responsibilities. With educational programs teaching more social theory and with social becoming an important part of lives of millennials, everyone has that base knowledge of social media so everyone has to contribute to those responsibilities.

JetBlue’s operation is broken up into three teams: corporate communications, which handles the overall narrative, marketing, which tells brand stories and customer support, which handles the day-to-day engagement JetBlue is known for. There is also a group looking at customer insights. They examine all analytics, which allows the strategists to make adjustments as a brand.

Key point: It’s all about transparency. The customer should know why you make the decisions you make.


Yarus said MRY thrives on brand ambassadors. The communities they manage are small and consist of influencers and thought leaders, which is different than JetBlue’s community. It all come down to knowing the community and what information will work will among them.

Yarus said distribution broken down into paid, owned, earned, experiential and analytics groups with a flat power structure that allows all members of community management to have an equal say. He noted that the community manager is the most vital piece of the puzzle as they are the eyes, ears and voice of the people.

Key point: “We’re all people.” Why does everything have to be so formal? Treat people like people for real results.


Cicero said LiveFyre’s community is made up of community managers, giving yet another interesting perspective on the field. It doesn’t matter if you have a background in digital, social or community building, you still need to understand how to communicate to be successful. Communication may seem basic, but it’s a tool many lack. It goes back to Yarus’ point about treating people like people. If you know how to communicate as a person, your community will respond.

Cicero said the marketing and customer service teams handle the community management. But LiveFyre didn’t hire a strategist until Cicero last December. He noted the importance of a strategist in determining overall voice and crisis management protocol. LiveFyre’s role is interesting because since their customers are community managers, they take on more of a mentorship role. But it all came back to being a team player and knowing how to work with these customers when they need help with their communities.

Key point:


Creating a Community with Downy

Downy sells fabric softener, dryer sheets and other products that will make your life softer and smell better. But Downy’s online communities haven’t always reflected that. According to 360i strategist Nicole Hering, who now works with the brand, she and her coworkers took over a “crummy situation” when 360i took over this past July.

Nicole took the reigns from Procter & Gamble, one of the largest consumer products companies in the world. According to Hering, years ago the size of the community was the most important metric and P&G still believes that. “When they first launched the community they had a lot of media dollars they could put behind the growth of the community,” Hering said. “What they had actually done is buy the cheapest fans they possibly could and then put a lot of coupons on the page.”

Building the community

P&G was taking pride in the fact that they had built a huge following. But when Hering took over, she tried to help them understand that there’s one metric far more important than reach — engagement. Engagement has been the key word for Hering and her crew, whether it be with creating a content strategy or calculating the ROI. P&G built a superficial community of people Hering referred to as “coupon trolls” but since then, after focusing on the target demographics, the Downy community has turned into an interactive, engaging community that actually advocates on behalf of the brand.

Getting the users invovled

The best way to advocate on behalf of a brand is through user generated content. But does Downy have a community that will embrace UGC? Yes. It’s large, it’s well-established and Hering has the wheels turning on ways to get them more involved. One way has been to ask them which hard parts of their lives need softening as a part of their #softside campaign. Using user-suggestions, Downy has posted visuals of life’s hardest moments being softened, like crossword puzzles. But Hering could be doing more. She’s currently just taking suggestions from users rather than actually using content they create themselves. It says a lot about a community that is willing to go out and create something for a brand.


Study the data

Hering is all about the statistics. P&G has kind of forced her to be, since they rely so much on data to make decisions. “We are trying to have the numbers almost tell a story,” Hering said. And what’s the most important stat to Hering? Shares. She says that in her opinion, shares are currently the most important metric out there because it means so much more than a like or a comment since it’s like wearing “a badge on their social shoulder” and saying “I am an advocate of this brand.”

On the right track

Hering knows she still has a long way to go to convert the community from a coupon hungry, shallow audience, to an engaging consumer base that’s ready to advocate for Downy. But she’s on the right track. Using metrics, demographic targeting and user generated content, she is establishing a community based on engagement rather than size.

Lessons Learned From a Panel of Community Experts

On October 15th, our community management class was able to conduct a Google Hangout with three people directly immersed in the world of community management and social media. Nick Cicero of LivefyreDavid Yarus from MRY, and Morgan Johnston from JetBlue were able to share aspects of their personal and professional experiences. Each of the social media savvy experts were able to contribute different pieces of valuable advice to the class and help extend our learning experiences from classroom activities and discussions.

Morgan Johnston shares advice with the class

Morgan Johnston shares advice with the class

Push The Limit Morgan Johnston discussed people who come into the field who don’t necessarily understand the rules within an organization. Questions like “You mean I can’t get away with this? Why not? Why are we doing this?” pushes people to be a better community manager. It’s important to ask questions and find out why people are doing what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and how they’re doing it. Not only does it provide someone with knowledge, but it allows you to reevaluate policies that are being followed.

Social Is More Than Being Social Nick Cicero heavily discussed the involvement of social within different enterprise corporations. Community managers work with other departments such as marketing, public relations, and communications to ensure that the same information is consistently conveyed by the company. Because there will always be interplay between different departments., “you don’t have to be the hero even if you are the guardian.” Community managers hear what the community thinks and therefore feels a sense of ownership, but it’s important to remember that lots of departments that work together to promote the same idea. The different voices of these departments all have to shine through while wrangling many of the issues a company may face.

We Are All People On Either Side of The Screen Perhaps the most important piece of advice came from David Yarus, who reconnected social media back to the people and the more humanistic aspect of the job. He stressed that we were all humans on one side of the computer screen. He urged us to text people rather than send overly formal emails. People respond well when they’re treated as such. David said that remembering to be human gets you back real results.

Each of the panelists had different experiences that contributed to different advice that each student took away from the experience. All of the panelists spoke wondefully and I’m appreciative of the time they shared with us.

Do you agree with the advice above or have anything to add? Let us know in the comments below! 

Learning from a Community Manager Panel

In class last week, we were very fortunate to have a Google+ Hangout which included David Yarus from MRY, Nick Cicero from Livefrye, and Morgan Johnston from JetBlue. This was an extremely interesting chat because each of the men were from different backgrounds and their jobs and responsibilities were a bit different. They each offered unique perspectives on topics that we have been learning about so far this semester.

What the CM/SMM does according to the Panel

It was very neat to see each of the men’s opinions on the role of a community manager or social media manager within their organization.As for David, a community manager at MRY monitors and strategizes while working with creative,strategy, and analytic teams to construct the foundation for their strategy. Also, they are the ones that may be writing the actual posts that we see.

Morgan Johnston speaking to CMGR class

Morgan Johnston speaking to CMGR class

As for Morgan at JetBlue, he focused more on the social role, which was a bit different than the others. Social responsibilities were split up among 3 teams: corporate communications, marketing/commercial, and customer support. Corporate communications does the storytelling, the marketing/commercial focuses on creating content, and the customer support are the ones focused on engagement. So, when it comes to engagement, the customer support team is the part of JetBlue that responds to tweets and other social media engagement.

When it comes to Nick at LiveFyre, there are many different departments that work in different areas, but when it comes to community managers, customer service is the department. He states that there is a marketing team that focuses on marketing, and a customer service department that manages the communities. However, the marketing team works in tandem with the customer service team to find opportunities in social conversation.

Metrics & Analytics

We were able to get a glimpse of different tools that each company uses for monitor trends. Morgan and Nick talked about what their company uses. Nick stated that they use Hootsuite, which is a social media dashboard where you can manage multiple social networks, schedule different tweets and messages, track mentions, and analyze traffic. He states that they use it so that they can identify where specific instances are happening and maintain an effective level of communication.

David Yarus speaking with CMGR class

David Yarus speaking with CMGR class

As for Morgan, they use a tool called ExactTarget Social Engage which allows multiple people to be involved and helps manage the conversation. This tool offers features that support engagement growth and makes it easy to scale up and deliver the kind of engagement that customer’s want. It was interesting to see that no one uses tools designed by the company, but it was very interesting to see the different type of tools that they use to monitor trends, since last week we learned about many different metrics.


Important Takeaways

Like previously stated, this was a very interesting panel discussion because of the different backgrounds and companies of the speakers. It was an eye-opening discussion when they all stressed how they work with so many other teams to make sure everything is consistent across the board. When I originally thought of a community manager or a social media manager, I would think of a particular department,  or a community management department. My thinking has now changed and this discussion has led me to believe that the more teams that work together when it comes to social responsibilities, the better. With all of these different people and departments, you get more layers of expertise and the group benefits as a result. Everyone working together can increase engagement and can produce successful social media/community strategies.

It was also interesting to see how many positions there are that have to do with social media and the community. While we really focus on social media managers and community managers, this discussion really showed how many careers are in this field. Who knew customer support could be where community managers reside? Who knew that marketing teams would work in tandem with community managers? It was great to see the connections and learn about positions in these exciting fields.

Nick Cicero speaking with CMGR class

Nick Cicero speaking with CMGR class


  • If you were to ask David, Nick, or Morgan a question, what would it be?
  • Have you worked with any of these monitoring tools like Hootsuite or SocialEngage?
  • Is there anything you would add?


Crisis Management and Social Media

Last week’s #CMGRclass panel was on Social Media and featured Morgan Johnston from JetBlue, David Yarus from MRY and Nick Cicero from LiveFyre as guests.

This panel was the second of three panels with the first on Online Content. One of the things that I thought worked better this time than the first time was that the guests interacted with each other outside of answering questions and jumping off one each other’s comments. The panel felt like more of a conversation between friends and colleagues than a Q&A; which allowed for a less formal atmosphere and yielded some interesting stories.

My favourite topic of conversation for the evening came towards the end of the night when Jenn asked them about crisis management. Jenn suggested they share an example of an “ultimate crisis” or how they were able to avoid one.

crisis management

Crisis Management courtesy of Kevin Krejci.

Yarus had an interesting perspective on crisis management, he works with “communities of influencers,” and the crises he handles are different than those of Johnston at JetBlue but one of the things I took away from his discussion on crisis management was the way he described the way he likes to handle them:

“We’re all people on this side of the screen and on that side of the screen, and I really try to influence that way within my team.”

The example of a “crisis” Yarus gave was when students began tweeting about a brand and the response was that the client didn’t want them and didn’t approved of them. Yarus then goes into a discussion on how easy it was for him to get in contact with the posters by texting them, explaining the situation and the tweets disappearing:

“We’re all people. I think we need to break down the barrier of ‘you need to send a formal email’ or send a formal letter, like, no, text them. That’s how I would want to be contacted…treat people as they are and I think you’ll get real results.”

Johnston had a much different take on crisis management and how social media is roped into an emergency response plan because it’s usually the “first indicator of an event or accident.” He hared a story of how he spent one Tuesday afternoon when he discovered a tweet from a customer describing how one of the flight attendants cursed out the whole plane and quit on the spot. He described that the crisis was handled by saying, roughly, “look, we know you’re interested, here’s what we can and can not tell you and here’s why we can’t tell you.” Like Yarus’ response to a crisis, I thought this was handled well – this acknowledges a problem, addresses it and shares as much information as possible so it doesn’t keep curious people in the dark.

Cicero had another interesting story to tell of how he was working with a company that had Subway as a client when they announced that Michael Vick had won Sportsman of the Year, shortly after leaving jail. Cicero describes receiving a “flood of negative comments all over the Facebook page, nonstop” and says the comments continued for month or two after the event. Cicero describes that the way the management team handled the crisis was to delete any posts that violated the rules and told his team not to respond to anything, that the PR team would handle everything.

Let me know in the comments below if you’ve heard of any crises taking place in a company that you think was handled well or could have been handled better.