I 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.
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.
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.
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.