Tag Archive for cmgr

Thoughts on Moderation

GoogleCommuntiy

This was my first time moderating any sort of discussions. I am more comfortable as a member, commenting and sharing additional articles to the community. It was a unique experience for me to take control of the discussion, and a great way to be introduced to community management without too much risk.

Going into my moderation week, I felt fairly confident. Our group on Google+ was getting great activity, with awesome comments and thoughtful discussions. It was great to share articles with the class and hear their opinions on issues raised in those articles. I was ready to step in as moderator to continue the great discussion for CMGR Class.

Setting Goals:

I had one main goal I set for myself at the start of the moderation; to post one article each day that I had found to be especially interesting. Not only was that the minimum requirement, but looking back at previous moderation weeks, it seemed like posting more than one link each day overwhelmed the community. I also had the unique situation of moderating midterm week, the week before Spring Break. I had to be aware of the time that people were able to spend on the Google+ community, as they balanced projects and studying.

An objective of a community manager is to listen, in order to understand what the community is most receptive to. This is why part of my goal is to only post articles that I found to be useful and thought-provoking. My reasoning: if I enjoyed reading it, others would too. In the Moderation chapter of Buzzing Communities, Richard mentions the sharing of information is a way to drive discussion between members (Millington, pg 69). I aimed to focus on quality over quantity in order to drive activity.

Pros:

Since this was the week before break, I decided to focus on reinforcing the definition of community management and exploring the strategy involved. For me, it always helps to revisit what community building means at its core in order to apply new concepts/analyze strategy. Towards the end of the week I shared articles written that simplified the community building process. These articles were the ones that I found were the most interesting, and a result they received the most conversation and positive response.

It felt great that the articles that strongly resonated with me were helpful to others. Another topic that had a good discussion was whether Snapchat was an appropriate social media platform for a brand to spend time on. Members brought up great challenging points about the viability of Snapchat for a community tool, and that discussion was the highlight of my moderation week.

 Cons:

 While I understood that it was a busy week for everyone, I still didn’t get the level of activity that I expected. It was also hard to know when to step in the comments and when to step back. There was a balance between probing the conversation and dominating it, and I feel like that was a skill that needed to be developed over time.

Another obstacle I ran into was that there was no readings for my moderation week. This meant I was left to create my own theme for the week, which ended up being slightly more difficult than I thought. I had to trust that others were interested in revisiting the core role of community managers.

Twitter was not as active as Google+, which was my fault for not focusing on it as much. I posted a total of three tweets during the week, two from my personal account using the hashtag #CMGRClass and one from the @CMGRClass Twitter account. The tweet about Ellen’s phone use during the Oscars got three click-throughs and a reply. I tweeted an article about why community managers build community, and that got one click-through and two favorites by non-classmates. I wish that I had found more things to share on Twitter.

TwitterStats

Screenshot from Hootsuite

A unforeseen disadvantage to my goal was that I spent a lot of time finding articles. Since I was only sharing things that I thought would be worth posting, I had to read more than I posted. All of our readings always say that time management and scheduling is an important part of community management, and this week I glimpsed the scope of time and effort put in.

Takeaways:

I enjoyed being more central to the discussion and guiding the conversation. Everyone was very constructive and thoughtful in their comments, which is all you could really ask for.

Looking back, I know I could have done better in responding to comments and asking probing questions. I was too worried about dominating the conversation and that inhibited my ability to lead it properly.

A large part of moderating involves trial and error. I realized that the only way to truly become a great community manager is to actively apply the concepts to your community. This assignment was great since it gave a taste of moderating a community, but nothing compares to the adjustments needed when you are managing a community in the long term.

The 4 Stages of the Community Life Cycle

Current online technologies have made it easier than ever to participate in discussions with people with similar interests and passions. Barriers for connecting with others have never been so low, as enhanced forms of media have enabled us to convey ideas and share like never before. In a society obsessed with content, the internet and social media has changed the way that we discover this content and who is able to distribute it.

The internet has changed the role of community managers, and has given them a wider range of tools to encourage discussion and inclusion within the community. Social media is one of these tools, as pointed out in Minot State University’s study The History of Social Media and its Impact on Business. Syracuse Sync, a local web design community organized it’s first meetup mainly through Twitter. Word of the meetup spread through social media, speakers and sponsors found through Twitter conversations, and the conference was a great success. Since attending, many attendees have reached out and supported my endeavors.

However, a community does not only exist on social media, and other efforts are required in order to build a successful community. Building a community is not easy, it requires a focused strategy and attention to sustain. A community manager’s main goal is to create relationships within the community, and to no longer drive the conversation. That being said, there are four main stages of a community life cycle as outlined in Chapter 1 of “Buzzing Communities” by Richard Millington. Each stage has specific duties in order to maintain and grow a community.

cycle

Inception

This is first life stage of a community, where the manager starts building relationships and initiating discussions. At this point, the main goal is to reach critical mass, or when your community is actively generating the content and discussions. Reaching the point of critical mass is achieved by:

  • Inviting people to join the community
  • Initiating discussions
  • Encouraging members to share and contribute
  • Establishing one-on-one relationships
  • Post content regularly

Establishment

This stage is marked by the community reaching critical mass. Community manager’s role is to promote inclusiveness and regular activity by the members, acting as a moderator. At this point, focus is shifted to referrals, promotion of the community, and organizing events. Tasks include:

  • Writing content
  • Managing events and chats
  • Resolving conflicts
  • Recruiting
  • Analyzing data about community
  • Referral growth tactics
  • Establishing a strong sense of community

Maturity

This stage level is when the activity level by members is the majority of the activity of the community. The community manager’s role is now to build publicity about the community and maintaing the general tasks. In addition, this stage will eventually plateau where the level of activity will be maintained at the highest point possible. The community is highly responsive and active, and is influential in its industry.

Mitosis

The final stage of the community cycle, where the community is very large and prominent. Subgroups form within the larger community, and the manager must make sure that the sentiment of being in a good community is still priority. The community manager supports the mini communities, and helps them become at critical mass.

This outline of the life cycles in “Buzzing Communities” is very clear in visualizing the goals and tasks for the community. Growing a successful community requires a lot of hard work and monitoring in order to create value for all participants.

 

Register for #CMGRClass Spring 2014!

The spring semester at Syracuse University starts on January 13th and there are still a few spots left in #CMGRClass. This online course is open to all graduate students and select undergraduates who have a significant interest in community building, online communications, online content, and social media. For undergrads, if you’ve taken #RotoloClass (IST 486) or the Newhouse Social Media Course you’re eligible to take #CMGRClass.  If you haven’t taken either of those courses, but have experience in an internship or student activity you may still join as an undergraduate.

#CMGRClassWhy Take #CMGRclass?

In this online class, you’ll use social media tools first hand and meet a number of professionals who are working on community management and/or social media for some of the best companies out there. This course is broken up into three parts that are designed to help you understand various aspects of community management.
1)  Content Management – Blogging is an art and different than your typical academic writing.   You’ll write blog posts about the topics in this course and learn some of the best content strategies.
2)  Social media – The tools are always changing, but there’s things you’ll walk out understanding such as important metrics and best practices.
3)  Community Building – how do you start a community from scratch?  How can your users help you to generate content? Where do you find your key influencers?

What’s new and exciting about this course?

This isn’t your typical online course. The class meets every other Tuesday at 7pm in a Google+ Hangout and once per month we’ll have guest speakers join us and tell us how they got into their roles and what their jobs are like.  Though if you can’t make the time due to work or other classes, the class is recorded for you to watch at your convenience. Students have the ability to network throughout the semester and they find out about excellent opportunities like internships and careers.

Last semester we had guests from Google Local, Cycle to Survive, MRY, JetBlue, Scoop.it, LiveFyre, Klout, and Moz, and students met community managers from a variety of different industries.

We also don’t use blackboard all too much! #CMGRClass primarily takes place in a Google+ Community group where it’s easier to interact and post fun content.

If you’re curious about this semester’s syllabus you can take a look on this site.  If you want to register, sign up for IST 600 by January 13th (or the add/drop deadline by January 21)!  And of course you can always contact the professors, Jenn Pedde (@JPedde / jmpedde@syr.edu) & Kelly Lux (@Kellylux / kalux@syr.edu) with any questions.

Community Management: How to Get Hired

Land a job as a community manager! (photo via http://www.glassdoor.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/interview23.jpg)

The job of “community manager” hasn’t necessarily been defined before a few years ago, especially in the digital space. But students are flooding from colleges after graduation to potential employers in an effort to get hired as a community manager. But what are employers looking for? How can you prepare for your interview? Is this industry right for you?

Here are three skills/tips you need to get hired as a community manager:

1. Strong communications skills

This one seems obvious, but some people think that just because this job is “digital” but this job has plenty offline aspects as well. A community manager must be a strong writer, speaker and really understand people. A public relations background is always helpful, especially in time of crisis and dealing with the consumer. It’s a people business, so if you don’t like people then you probably shouldn’t be applying! The “management” aspect of the job also falls under this category. The best bosses and managers have employees that love them because they’re strong communicators and get their message across. We learn about the importance of transparency but you can’t be transparent unless you know how to get your message out there. The business is all about storytelling, which is why strong communications stills are so important.

2. Organized

Organization is key and your employer will be able to sense if you aren’t organized. If you aren’t organized you’ll probably be in way over your head in the business. A community manager deals with so much data and information. There are tons of numbers to analyze and make sense of and then apply to your strategy. One major aspect of community management is content curation. Bringing together a ton of different content from different platforms and making sense of it is another reason why community managers need to stay organized. Without good organizational skills, it would be hard to make sense of why you were curating the content and the message behind it.

3. Be a member of your community

This is the most important tip of all because if you aren’t a member of your community and truly engaged in it, you wont be successful as a community manager. You must be able to understand the community members and I don’t think that’s possible unless you’re a member of the community as a whole. So if you’re trying to get hired, don’t go into a job interview and have no idea about the company or community because you wont get hired. Research the community and start playing a role in it before heading into your interview. Show your employer that you care about the community, because if you can be a part of it, you can manage it.

Fore more great tips for prospective community managers, check out this article.

Listen up!: Using comments, blogger outreach, and ambassador programs to build your community

When trying to grow or maintain your community, it is essential to provide your audience with unique opportunities to interact with your brand. Comments, blogger outreach, and ambassador programs are all paths through which a CM can better connect with the community. Read on to see what I’m talking about.

Comments
Read between the lines

As if it hasn’t been said enough times, Buzzing Communities reminds us that the customer is always right! ALWAYS. Take it from someone who has angrily reached out to brands on social media many times, I always remember which brands were pleasant to deal with, and which were not. Online conflict resolution is not only vital in that it calms dissatisfied customers, but the manner in which this resolution is dealt with speaks highly to the brand — and the reason why it’s included on this list.

Blogger Outreach
Why is this even necessary?

Unlike journalists, most bloggers are not constrained by traditional media models. In The Best Practice Guide for Effective Blogger Outreach, an eBook by InkyBee, it is noted that bloggers have instant and exponential reach. They are also a source of “earned media,” a relationship that is based on a real connection — both on and offline. PR professional Sally Falkow said that a BlogHer study showed that women in the US rank blogs as their “number one source of information.” That’s a lot of people. That’s a lot of power.

The first steps

Once you decide blogger outreach is the way you want to go, you need to devise a plan. First, consider all of the possible outcomes that, according to Jenn Pedde’s “Building Community in Blogger Outreach” presentation, blog outreach can yield:

  • SEO/link building
  • Increased sales
  • Engaged customers/users
  • Product testing
  • Being the dominant voice in your industry
  • Being the most trusted voice in your industry

Next, InkyBee recommends identifying the blogs where the target audience lives. And Pedde reminds us that not all blogs are created equal. In fact, according to a chart entitled “Blogger Outreach: Tiers of Blogging and Link Building” (Fig. 1) in her presentation, there are five tiers of blogs: news outlets, large blog outlets, influencers, specific subject, and everyone else.

Blogger Outreach: Tiers of Blogging and Link Building (via Jenn Pedde's "Building Community in Blogger Outreach")

Fig. 1: Blogger Outreach: Tiers of Blogging and Link Building (via Jenn Pedde’s “Building Community in Blogger Outreach”)

Perhaps the most important piece of advice offered from InkyBee is to remember to personalize your pitch to the blogger. Investigate how they prefer to communicate — Twitter, Facebook, Quora — and capitalize on it. You need to offer something that mutually beneficial; no one likes to walk down a one-way street.

Keeping it going

Once this mutually beneficial relationship is established, be sure to not let the relationship die. You’ve worked this hard – so keep it up! Thank them, continue providing them with good content, and maybe treat them to a nice lunch 🙂 Be sure to also store his/her contact information and maintain and updated blogger database.

Brand Ambassador Programs
Say what?

brand ambassador program, as defined by Mack Collier:

… allows for an ongoing, working relationship with special customers who are fans of your brand. Their job is to stay in constant contact with your customers, not only promoting you to these customers, but also giving you invaluable feedback on what your customers think about your brand.

As a result, as a CM, you gain a greater understanding of your target and can pass along valuable insights to your marketing and advertising teams. Brand ambassador programs are especially helpful for larger companies, who find it overwhelming to connect with their consumers.

Collier offers 10 tips for creating a brand ambassador program. Three of my favorites are:

  • Spread the world internally as well as externally
    • If you don’t have the entire organization behind any given initiative, it’s doomed to fail
  • Make membership exclusive
    • You want to ensure that you are giving “membership” to the customers who are true advocates to the brand and who are truly committed. No phonies allowed!
  • Give your advocates direct access to the brand
    • Be sure that your ambassadors have access to some executives or people of significance at the company. These people are the “brand’s biggest defenders and advocates,” so it is essential that their voice is always heard by someone who has the power to enact change.

Buzzing Communities also recommends that brand ambassadors meet at least one of these criteria:

  • High levels of activity
  • High levels of expertise or passion for the topic
  • Distinctive contributions
  • Interesting real-life positions
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Great contacts
  • Overall strategic fit

 

Many agencies and brands who are looking to reach college students are now targeting these same students to be their brand ambassadors (image via MrYouth http://mryouth.com/)

Many agencies and brands who are looking to reach college students are now targeting these same students to be their brand ambassadors (image via MrYouth http://mryouth.com/)

Choose wisely!

 

Which of these three avenues do you think best suites your brand? Try them out and let me know!

 

3 Dos (and 1 Don’t) for Reaching Out to Bloggers

This week’s topic of discussion dealt with blogger outreach, or, fostering a relationship with, and offering services to, online writers who might prove beneficial to a brand or company in some capacity. From class, we’ve learned that connection is key, but there are definitely right—and wrong—ways for going about it.

Image courtesy of Social Media Marketing University

DO…

1. …Have a goal in mind.

Blogger outreach starts in-house, a point stressed in the ebook, “The Best Practice for Effective Blogger Outreach,” which tells businesses to have objectives lined out. Much in the same way that an army can’t go to battle without a strategy, a business can’t extend itself online without an idea of why. Identifying one’s objectives also means identifying a target audience, effectively narrowing down the wide pool of bloggers on the Web to a relevant selection.

Tips:

  • Research potential target audience first. You should know everything about them going in—not the other way around.
  • Social media isn’t the only factor to keep in mind. PR and brand awareness is good and all, but not if they don’t translate into some sort of revenue.

2. …Be creative with your methodology.

According to “12 Ways Strong Social Brands Connect With Their Audience,” Britt Michaelian makes a point of saying that it’s not enough to just have a voice online; it should also be different from anything else online. Easier said than done, yes, but it helps if you’re already in touch with blogger lingo and etiquette, as referenced in “Building Community in Blogger Outreach.” Do what you see other prominent bloggers doing; tap into their interests and make it work to your advantage.

Tips:

  • As in real life, don’t be afraid to have a quirky personality. “Weird” or “eccentric” just means being one step above the white noise of the Internet.
  • The Denny’s blog, for instance, benefits from being hosted on Tumblr: They can post topical things they see other Tumblr users responding to and reblogging themselves.

3. …Build loyalty for your brand.

The best way of going about this is offering accessibility. In Britt Michaelian’s “How to Build Fierce Loyalty for Your Brand Community,” she argues for helping audiences feel “wanted and needed within the community.” By creating spaces for discussion and thinking in terms of we than I, brands can maintain conversation that will slowly but surely lead to support from within the community.

Tips:

  • Extend across social media platforms. The more places for discussion, the more loyal customers.
  • Lead, but don’t make it apparent. You’re not there to herd people around; you’re there to engage them.

DON’T…

1. …Forget to be human.

This seems to be at the crux of everything we’ve learned this semester, but that’s because it doesn’t become any less true the more we learn about community management. Press releases and cold calling (…blogging), then, are ill-advised ways of reaching out to bloggers. Instead, stay honest and stay personable. Don’t be afraid of humanizing a brand—thinking small-scale also means paying more attention to detail, which works miles on online readers.

Share your thoughts—or any other dos and don’ts—in the comments below!

3 Ways to Avoid Annoying, Offending or Alienating Your Online Community

This week’s topic for class was “Listening and Planning” and it got me thinking; we’ve talked about ways to grow your community and ways to interact with them but what are some basic do nots when it comes to maintaining an online community?

1) To delete or not to delete, that is the question.

Image Courtesy of Search Engine People Blog.

Deleting tweets is something politicians and celebrities have gotten in the habit of doing recently. While I completely understand wanting to delete an ill-advised or offensive tweet, others would highly suggest you didn’t.

Over the summer Andy Beal, author of “When should you delete that tweet?” put together three handy lists one can use to see if the deletion of a tweet is a good idea:

Probably Not:

  • Typos show your human, it’s okay to leave them
  • If different team members tweet the same thing, it shows you care

Probably Should:

  • Duplicate tweets, don’t clog up the newsfeed
  • Tweeted something to the wrong account, tweeted something on work that should have gone to personal (this one is a constant fear of mine because I have my phone set up so I can shift between the two easily)

Absolutely Should:

  • Account was hacked, explain and move on
  • An employee tweeted something without permission, delete and if it gained a lot of attention address it and move on

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve seen however comes from Thompson Reuters as part of their Twitter Guidelines for their journalists, “If a tweet is wrong don’t delete but correct it with a new tweet that begins CORRECTED:

2) Favoring your community over others.

Patrick’s article, “Do Your Community’s User Guidelines Only Protect People You Like?” does a good job of explaining what that entails by asking the question, “do they [your community guidelines] apply to people your community doesn’t like, just like they apply to your members?”

Patrick explains that most communities have guidelines that deal with respect, no personal attacks or disrespectful comments, but sometimes those guidelines start and end with the community members. He gives the example, “I can’t call a member of your community stupid. But, I can call a celebrity or politician stupid.”

Patrick stresses that as a community manager when you say that no disrespectful comments will be tolerated you follow up on that. He follows this statement up by acknowledging that this,

“Puts me in the position of protecting people who I don’t like or even who I regard as terrible, awful human beings…But my belief is that we should be able to discuss any topic (that is appropriate for our community) in a productive, reasonable way. You can dislike what someone does, you can criticize their actions, you can disagree with them – without calling them names, without inflammatory language, without personal attacks. That is the level of discourse I aim for.”

3) Like us, Like us, Like us!

This is what you sound like.

Deb Neg, author of “How to Annoy Your Community and Ruin Your Brand’s Reputation in the Process,” prefers to go the “least annoying, least invasive, [and] most respectful” route possible when spreading knowledge about a company. For example, she refuses to direct message someone via Facebook or Twitter. (“Here’s when it’s ok to auto spam all the people who follow you on Twitter to ask them to Like your Facebook page: NEVER.”)

She points to an article from Assist Social Media by Elizabeth Maness, “One Cool Trick to Get Facebook Likes that We Love,” as a collection of things NOT to do to earn likes. One example being DM (direct messaging) a person on Twitter and sharing your brand’s Facebook URL and asking the person to like it for you by offering to like the person’s page back.

Instead, Ng suggests alternative ways to “earn” Facebook likes:

  • Share content people are interested in. Make your page interesting, informative and entertaining. Have them coming back for more.
  • It’s fine to publically ask them to find you on Facebook if they’re interested in getting more updates.
  • Show your community members where they can find you (“follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for more updates!”)

These are just some of the no-no’s I’ve come across when it comes to managing an online community. Can you think of any others? In the comments below either share a story of something you came across in dealing with a company or a trend you’ve noticed happening.

Brick By Brick: Creating Your Community

With all this talk so far this semester about community managers, it’s easy to forget the other, perhaps more important, half of the equation—the community itself. Yes, community managers (CMs) have to be fiercely defensive of their communities, but the community has to be fiercely defensive of itself as well as the brand it advocates. As such, CMs bear the responsibility of building a community and maintaining it long enough before it can function on its own. And with proper building techniques, CMs can create communities that, in the real world, do what CMs can’t do on their own.

Community building doesn’t just happen overnight.

Building Your Community

Communities are comprised of individuals. Remembering that means remembering to reach out to one person at a time. Startups and larger organizations alike suffer the same problems of having to keep audiences in mind, whether that means having to start slow or having to do more than just “throw money” around to get eyeballs on content. Being a human comes first and foremost, since CMs have the dual role of representing and humanizing a brand. Reminding potential community members that there’s more to a company than just its logo and mission statement fosters a relationship that could translate into future loyalty.

Maintaining Your Community

Once customers start coalescing, conversation is key. Strengthening ties between the brand and the community as well as between community members themselves marks a key difference between CMs and social media managers; after all, it’s one thing to attract people, but it’s another thing to keep them there. Fostering natural discussion with community members ensures that everyone connects with each other. Starting simple and focused, rather than using rewards and incentives, allows for organic community growth.

Letting Your Community Go

This doesn’t mean actually letting your community go. Rather, it means working up to a mutual level of trust that both the CM and the community can function less intimately, but without losing efficiency. Just as show dogs grow tired with each hurdle, communities lose patience with every added hoop they have to jump through. Form upon form and promotion upon promotion can quickly become taxing, so CMs would be wise to step away from expecting more from their communities and instead let them work on their own terms. At the end of the day, word of mouth and fervent community dedication matter most—not micromanagement.

What brands or companies seem to have succeeded at community building? Which ones haven’t? Share in the comments!

Starting from the bottom: Tips for building a community from scratch

Building a community isn’t something that happens overnight. But with a roadmap, realistic and goal-oriented expectations, and a good attitude, a well-developed brand community may not be so far out of reach.

Make a plan and stick to it

The key to community building is putting effort and value into a strong foundation. Even if it’s brick by brick, a community with a carefully thought-out strategy is going to come out on top. Cement between bricks takes a while to dry, and if you stack your bricks higher too quickly, the structure is likely to collapse. In his article “How to Build a Community From Scratch,” David Spinks offers a one person at a time strategy:

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.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Although tedious, it’s this type of focused strategy that will produce results.

It’s also helpful to create a design persona of your target audience in order to always keep your messaging focused. Dino Dogan (@DinoDogan), co-founder of Triberr, wrote a piece for Business 2 Community, in which he describes the process of creating this avatar. The purpose, he notes, is to become one with the consumer—get into their head and know their fears, problems, and passions. It also ensures that your messaging is always human in nature, because in essence, your community is speaking to this avatar that you have created.

Richard Millington’s book Buzzing Communities also outlines various types of communities that help focus your content: communities of interest, place, practice, action, and circumstance. Considering the type of community you are looking to build, in addition to the demographics (geographic location, age, gender) and psychographics of the audience gives your new community a better chance for success. 

Expectations

One of the most important things to remember when building a community from scratch is that you cannot expect the community to appear instantaneously. This is a problem that according to Spinks, both large and small companies face. Startups just want to scale as much as possible and grow as quickly as possible, but that is not the nature of communities. Larger companies feel entitled, established, and as if they have strong brand recognition that their community will grow instantly. As Millington describes, creating long and short term audiences helps remind us that we need to reach critical mass (via a well-developed plan, of course) before we can think about reaching as many people as possible.

All the tedious work is worth it

Remember, as Dogan carefully points out, a successful community will create fanatically engaged members. These fanatically engaged members will market for you while you sleep — and they’ll do it all for free. I can’t think of a better reward.

If Drake can do it, so can you.
(via “Eapatty01” on IGN.com)

Have you started your own community from scratch? Go ahead, what are you waiting for?!

Vsnap’s Trish Fontanilla on Being Human

If you ask Trish Fontanilla what Vsnap means to her, she’ll mention the word human at least five times in under one minute.

Which makes sense, since Vsnap is in the business of connecting people. In the words of its website, Vsnap believes “customers are not people.” People, more than anything, are the building blocks of any company, and their feelings and input are as important to any enterprise as hard facts and revenue. As the vice president of community and customer experience, Trish deals directly with making Vsnap—an already personable brand, especially when compared to other business in the marketplace—that much more user-friendly.

And fortunately, I had a chance to speak with Trish and, in turn, got to learn firsthand what it means to be a community manager is, what it isn’t, and what she does to make Vsnap what she’d like to call “a lifestyle brand.”

A conversation with Trish Fontanilla over Google Hangouts.

A conversation with Trish Fontanilla over Google Hangouts.

According to Trish, the confusion between social media managers (SMM) and community managers (CM) is understandable. To clarify, however, she wanted to make the distinctions apparent.

Therefore, in her eyes, a social media manager:

  • Deals explicitly with social media.
  • Exists solely in an online workspace.
  • Often get restrained by email and social media.

A community manager, on the other hand:

  • Uses social media techniques.
  • Reaches out and (physically) goes out.
  • Has greater, personal investment in a company.

As a community manager for a company that already has greater visibility compared to most, Trish turns to people in other communities to help build her own. Aside from being an active member of #CMGRChat, she travels frequently and often shouts out to her followers to see if anyone is available for a real-life meet-up. In a professional capacity, she spearheads Customer Love meet-ups, which focuses on the stories and narratives—not the “slides” and “pitches”—of other CMs and marketing people who, as she says, just “get it.”

Stories, she says, are integral to Vsnap. Since she doesn’t work directly with search engine optimization (SEO), Trish relies on stories from users and other CMs to help gauge “grand sentiment metrics.” After all, Vsnap deals with users on a person-by-person basis; Trish even sends daily Vsnaps to users who respond on Twitter, celebrate anniversaries for involvement with the company, and any other reason to keep people engaged. Putting a face to the conversation, she says, is the whole point.

And she’s not worried about potential competitors, either. I’ve used Vsnap myself, and the difference between a business-oriented video platform and a social one is apparent. In fact, she says Vsnap supports its contemporaries, since it both increases social media activity and also trains users ahead of time in video before they turn to Vsnap. Which, if the brand’s accessibility and functionality is anything to go by, should be sometime soon.

Follow Trish at @TrishoftheTrade!