Author Archive for Sonny Gold

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

 

Nothing is Stronger then a Well Built Community

This week’s topic is on building a community from scratch. There are a number of suggested readings which provide tips on how to build the best community from scratch. Through additional research, I found one article from www.socialfresh.com, that I feel provides good insight into building a strong community. The article,  How to Build a Community From Scratch, is written by David Spinks as he weighs in on the topic.

http://www.communityspark.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/community_members_active.jpg

http://www.communityspark.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/community_members_active.jpg

Spinks begins the article by explaining why both start-up companies and large organizations have problems building a community. Furthermore, start-ups have a problem because they take on the mind-set of the company in trying to grow as quickly as possible, however this is a problem because communities most often do not work that way. Secondly, larger organizations have a problem building a community from scratch because they often think that they have the money and brand recognition which equates to an instant community. Bottom line however, a community is not built over night, but as Spinks mentions, “…Both require that you give every small aspect of the larger goal your full attention, and build up toward your vision.”

The article then continues to outline a “foolproof community building strategy.” The strategy outlined is…

  • Step 1- Pick up your phone, and call a user/customer. Ask them about themselves. Ask them about their experience with your company. Make a personal connection.
  • Step 2 – Invite them to a private facebook group, for your customers.
  • Step 3 –Introduce them to the group and help them get involved in the discussions.
  • Step 4 – Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Although this strategy seems pretty simple, a community manager must understand that this process takes time and can be tedious. Spinks goes on to explain that a community manager must continue this strategy until the discussions in the group are flowing smoothly and until the community manager feels that the group’s users are connecting with each other and a true community is forming.

Much like the recent, social media dilemma Maker’s Mark encountered after diluting their bourbon, the article mentions to stay away from ambassador programs. Rather, suggests to start focused and simple and to listen to your community because they will tell you when it is time to build more structure. As mentioned earlier, this strategy may seem tedious although simple. Companies often tend to want to say, “I dont have time to call all of users,” however Spink explains, “There’s no interaction too small to be worth your time, when you’re trying to build a true community.”

So to all community managers, remember what Spinks suggests, “It may seem tedious, but once it’s all done…NOTHING IS STRONGER THEN A WELL BUILT COMMUNITY!”

Understanding the Value of Social Media with Olivier Blanchard

As a first year Information Management graduate student looking to pursue a career in social media either as a social media strategist or a community manager, I found our class talk with Oliver Blanchard, author of “Social Media ROI” to be very informative. One question in particular which Oliver was asked that was most intriguing to me dealt with the idea of “how to make companies understand the value of social media.” Furthermore, as a low-level worker involved with social media, when reporting metrics and success of your work to higher-level authority, how do you truly convince and explain that social media is important and leading to success?

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Oliver Blanchard’s response to this question was very interesting. He explained that it is very stressful trying to sell the value of social media, however he believes a good place to start is internally. Blanchard suggested meeting with decision makers within the company, and asking them what you can do to help them. He continued to explain that by listening to their answers to this question, in most cases you will be learning how you can help them sell things using social channels and your community. Blanchard goes on to say that in understanding what everyone wants and wants to accomplish within the company, they will have to start thinking about social media and your social activity as a tool and driver for whatever they are chasing. Therefore, they will start to come to you with questions and requests and in the end you will start looking at data and content differently.

I found this suggestion to be very accurate and a great way to start in convincing your company that social media is of value. In an article from the Wall Street Journal, entitled “Measuring—and Capturing—the Value of Social Media” three other ways in which you can show the value of social media are outlined.

1. Going with the Flow

2. Forming R.E.A.L Relationships

3. Getting Engaged

The first way the article describes that is useful is called, “going with the flow.” Essentially what this means is that by looking at the flow of information, social media “can actively express brand value through the newly visible flows of non-monetary economic value that traverse social networks. Perhaps most important, these flows can now be identified, measured, and converted into financial equivalents, thus enabling organizations to aggregate the disparate forms of returns into a more traditional view.” The flows of information suggested to watch for include, data, labor, capital, and customer’s attention which all represent flows within a business system.

The second way, “forming R.E.A.L. relationships,” explains that it is important for companies to “strive for relationships with customers that are “R.E.A.L.”: Reciprocal, Empathetic, Authentic, and Long-lasting.” Relationships that contain these values, help a company provide efficient and consistent communication and collaboration, and can therefore provide better opportunities to increase profitability. The third and final way, “getting engaged” relates to forming relationships. Essentially, the more engaged your company is, the greater the ability to “win the hearts, hands, minds and wallets of its market.”

To truly express the value of social media, start internally, as suggested by Oliver Blanchard. Once this step is taken, work on developing relationships with your clients which will ultimately lead to a better understanding and grasp on your market.