Our Class Panel with Real-Life Community Managers

This past Tuesday, I logged on to my Google+ account for my bi-weekly CMGR class, which meets via Google Hangouts. Yet, this week’s class wasn’t the typical group discussion. This week, we had the pleasure of welcoming real-life community managers from extremely prestigious companies, such as Foursquare, Lenovo, PolicyMic, and Vimeo.

Every one of the community managers present, Tracey Churray (Foursquare), Gavin O’Hara (Lenovo), Caira Conner (PolicyMic), and Alex Dao (Vimeo), mentioned something that really stuck with me. Those little snippets were all connected to Brand Ambassador programs, which I think are an extremely important aspect to community management, as a whole.

Tracey Churray (Foursqaure)

Tracey Churray, Director of Support at Foursquare, the ever-popular “check-in” app company, got her start in the tech industry from a small email marketing service. After a number of years, she she was able to land her dream job at Foursquare, where she is able connect everyday with users of the app.

Fischer, John. "FourSquare." 2010 May 06. Online Image. Flickr. 2014 April 11.

Fischer, John. “FourSquare.” 2010 May 06. Online Image. Flickr. 2014 April 11.

Within the Foursquare community, Ms. Churray manages contact with the users at large, particularly with her “Superusers”. Superusers are exactly what they sound like; they are the Foursquare obsessed, the people who are extremely passionate about the use and success of the brand. These Superusers have had an incredible impact on the prominence of the Foursquare company. In fact, Tracey mentioned that she has asked for help from her Superusers and they assisted her in a very important task: creating the naming conventions in the Foursquare database!

Min, Julien. "4sq Superuser". 2011 July 07. Online Image. Flickr. 2014 April 11.

Min, Julien. “4sq Superuser”. 2011 July 07. Online Image. Flickr. 2014 April 11.

Tracey’s tips from Foursquare community management with her Superusers?

  • Don’t be afraid to give your followers a bit of inside information
  • Categorize your very involved and influential users
  • Reach out to your users and community members for advice

As Tracey pointed out, it is very important to pay attention to and treat your community members right. After all, you never know when they will come up with an idea that will forever change the structure and operations of your company.

Gavin O’Hara (Lenovo)

Community manager of Lenovo, a worldwide technology company, with the technical position title of Global Social Media Publisher, Gavin O’Hara got his start in community management with his love for coming up with social media content. In his current position at the prestigious personal technology company, Gavin creates the content for all the different social media platforms Lenovo uses, and reaches out to community members on a daily basis.

Anicic, Goran. "Lenovo ThinkPad T530." 2013 May 31. Online Image. Flickr. 2014 April 11.

Anicic, Goran. “Lenovo ThinkPad T530.” 2013 May 31. Online Image. Flickr. 2014 April 11.

One thing Gavin said, that really connected with me, was that “Community Management is about being both proactive and reactive.” What does he mean by this?

  • Producing content and responding to the content of his community members is integral to his job
  • Getting to know the audience of the community-knowing that it’s not made up of 1 kind of person-is vital
  • Just asking people personal random questions- “Where are you from?” or “How is the weather where you are?”is necessary

It’s those serendipitous moments of tapping into members’ lives that make people feel like they’re a part of something, especially a brand as large and well-known as Lenovo.

Like Foursquare, Lenovo has their own kind of Brand Ambassador program, Lenovo Insiders. The Lenovo Insiders are the global brand advocates of the technology company, who live, breath, and love Lenovo. To Gavin, Lenovo’s Brand Ambassador program is all about pulling the community members up into the Lenovo world.

Caira Conner (PolicyMic)

Caira Conner, Community Manager at PolicyMic, a digital/media news company, wanted



a way to study relationships. As she found her way into community management, she wanted to make content more available for consumption, rather than solely readership.

At PolicyMic, she plays an avid role in Recruitment and Strategic Development. What the heck is that?

  • Basically, building mini networks within the PolicyMic community
  • Communities are the journalists of PolicyMic
  • Mini networks provide a place for community members to collaborate and communicate

While Brand Ambassador programs are super important to the brand itself, they are also important to the

collective group of users who make up that program. At PolicyMic, they are making sure the ambassadors themselves have the people, resources, and communication outlets they need to be ample representatives of the brand.

Alex Dao (Vimeo)

Alex Dao, Community Development Chair for Vimeo, a video sharing website (similar to Youtube) got her start in community management from a very young age, simply from moderating message boards and chat rooms (believe it or not)!

Beale, Scott. "Vimeo Log In Screen." 2007 June 26. Online Image. Flickr. 2014 April 11.

Beale, Scott. “Vimeo Log In Screen.” 2007 June 26. Online Image. Flickr. 2014 April 11.

Ever since her pre-teen years, she has been doing a lot of that same kind of work at Vimeo. What exactly does that entail?

  • 80% of her time on member support throughout the online communities
  • 20% of her time on planning events with Vimeo members
  • Runs the apprenticeship program which hires people directly from their community(!!!!)
  • Helps to curate Vimeo accounts of users- highlights/*stars* 5-6 user videos a day for exceptional content

Alex has an important job in making sure the members of Vimeo community have the best experience possible. Because, who knows, you never know which one of those community members, coming out of the apprenticeship program, could be the next of the Vimeo brand.


What I really enjoyed about this panel was that each community manager mentioned something that we learned in class, which really made me appreciate these different types of concepts even more. As a student, it’s probably one of the coolest things to hear things you’ve heard in a lecture or read in a text book come into reality, and it helps switch on the “light bulb”, the one that is our brain. This class panel was full of real professional, real concepts, and real application, which is what community management is all about.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *