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