Tag Archive for #community manegement

How to Build an Army of Brand Ambassadors – Tips from the #CMGRClass Panel

When a musician or actor gets on stage to accept a big award, they often make it a point to thank their fans. Some even go as far as to say I’m nothing without my fans. This statement can also be applied to brands because they, as well, are nothing without their fans.

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 6.30.33 PM

This week #CMGRClass held a online panel over Google+. We were lucky enough to have apanel of experts from four companies: Gavin O’Hara from Lenovo, Alexandra Dao from Vimeo, Caira Conner from PolicyMic, and Tracey Churray from Foursquare. One of the biggest themes I saw emerge from this discussion was the need to build and nurture a community of super fans, otherwise known as brand ambassadors.

Know Your Community

The first step to building an army of brand ambassadors is to get to know your community. A lot of the community managers during this panel said that community for them started out as customer service and support. They needed to answer all the tweets when customers had problems, and soon community and support melded together. Each of these community managers had to go where their customers were and be available to them through these social sites. After spending all this time interacting with their consumers, they really got to know them inside and out.

getsatisfaction.com

getsatisfaction.com

Connect Your Community to Each Other

Tracey Churray explained that Foursquare recently launched a forum for their superusers. This mutually beneficial project allows about 40,000 of Foursquare’s most involved users to have an equal baseline of knowledge of the service, and chat with each other. This forum allows the users to connect with each other and bond, but also increases chatter about the service. This thus creates a greater brand loyalty to Foursquare in general because it is constantly the topic of conversation. Foursquare also has three levels of superusers, that all lead up to the hand chosen SU3s who actually get to interact with the Foursquare engineers.

aboutfoursquare.com

aboutfoursquare.com

Help Yourself

Foursquare sometimes taps into this loyal community to get feedback about how the service is functioning in different parts of the world. One of my favorite stories from the panel was when Tracey discussed how Foursquare contacted the superusers to improve the “Chinese Restaurants” tab of Foursquare locations in different parts of the world. Chinese restaurants as we know them in America take on a different meaning in China, and Foursquare was able to talk to their users about what categories of Chinese restaurants are necessary to have in each country. This made the service more targeted and meaningful in each part of the world, and was all made possible by the suggestions of their superusers.

Situations like this get users involved in the creative process and make them feel like valuable assets of the company. Gavin harped on this point by saying “casual exchanges make [users] feel like they are peeking behind a veil and are a part of something bigger.”

Even further than this, the panelists encouraged Gavin’s nurturing of a superuser community by providing examples within their own community. Vimeo offers around the clock customer service to their premium users, and makes it a point to hightlight 5 to 6 user videos each day. Another panelist said, “Don’t be afraid to give them some inside information, before you release things (people don’t like change after launch). They are often very excited and own it because they are a part of it.”

Bring Your Community Offline

The last important aspect of a superstar brand ambassador program that the panelists brought up, was the need to bring any online connections offline, to really solidify them. Creating and encouraging opportunities for the community members to connection offline with each other, as well as you, really allows people to connect on a human level. Gavin jokingly commented that “We need to throw parties,” and although he presented this in a joking way, the message still stands. Tweeting, emailing, and Facebooking are all nice, but your job is to manage a community of people, so you must treat them as such. Brand loyalty stems from this feeling of connection and unity.

What do you think about these tips for building a brand army? What brands do you think have the best “superuser” programs? Let me know in the comments below!

Advice about Community Management from Community Managers

#CMGRclass is slowly coming to a close and what better way to spend the third and final panel than to speak with community managers? This week we heard from Cycle for Survival’s Lea Marino, Google Local New York City’s Topher Ziobro, Moz’s Jennifer Lopez and Klout’s Sahana Ullagaddi.

A quick background on the companies and communities discussed:

  • Cycle for Survival is a company that has indoor cycling bikes where you can raise money for cancer projects that need funding, like raising funds for cures for rare cancer types, through peer-to-peer fundraising. (I never learned how to ride a bike so I’ve never been able to raise money that way, but this sounds perfect for me and I’m hoping they come to Upstate New York.)
  • Google Local NY is a Google+ community that encourages people to explore places around the city.
  • Klout is a company that helps you understand and measure your online influence. (I highly recommend using it, it is a lot of fun.)
  • Moz is an SEO marketing company with analytics software to manage all your inbound efforts.

 

Courtesy of David Armano.

Courtesy of David Armano.

 

So how did our panelists get where they are today?

Marino is a 2008 Public Relations graduate from NewHouse (go ‘Cuse!). She moved to NYC right before the hiring freezes and the economy collapsed but she has since discovered a career path that she is happy with. She wears many hats and works with email marketing, and social media. She also shared a good piece of advice when it comes to internships: you might not always like the internship you’re doing but doing it will help you figure out what you do and do not like so you’re better prepared to search for jobs.

Ziobro started out as a member of the Google+ community he now manages and so he has unique insight into what community memebers want and what a community manager should do. As he says, he gets to “do community in the trusest sense of the word.”

Ullagaddi studied Economics, with a specialisation in International Development, with an original career track to be a Management Consultant. She found herself drawn to careers that would allow her to work and interact with people, “I’m passionate about people, I love people and I wanted a way to interact with people,” so she moved from NYC to San Francisco in order to intern at her mentor’s start-up company.

Lopez has a degree in Journalism and focused on Public Relations. She loves doing web related work, developing and writing code and she also loves speaking in front of people. She came across the world of SEO and became a consultant for Moz. She says that her background in Public Relations has been incredibly helpful, especially when it came to crisis management. She describes Moz as, “everything I love combined into one place.”

Below is a list I put together from a question Kelly Lux, one of our professors and moderators, asked of our panel. Lux wanted to know what traits or skills our panelists thought were the most helpful for a community manager to posses or what they would look for if they were to hire someone:

  • Someone who was able to figure out what to do next, someone who can make stuff happen and someone who can think on their feet. (Lopez)
  • Empathy. It’s not something you can be taught but when it comes to social media or emailing someone you want someone who can has the ability to connect with people; to make sure what you’re saying can be easily read and interpretted. “You read emails how you percieve them to be written, rather than how they were meant to be sent.” (Marino)
  • A hunger to learn. You won’t know anything when you first start out and being excited to learn something new and the ability to recieve feedback, ability to speak up and share your opinions will go far. (Ullagaddi)
  • Be perceptive. Empathy is really important in order to have people open up to you, you need to make them feel comfortable. (Ullagaddi)
  • Energy. How you display it and how you manage it. It shows how interested in something you are and there will be times when you’re going to have to put in a long night. Build reserves so you can tackle a task at anytime of day. (Ziobro)
  • Time management. It’s important to plan things out so you don’t drain yourself. (Ziobro)

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If you are a community manager reading this list, what would you add? Or, do is there something you would take off? Why?

Also: if you’re a student interested in being a community manager but aren’t sure if it’s right for you, consider taking #CMGRclass in the spring 2014 semester.

Overlaps in Social Media Management and Community Management

This past week we have been reading about community managers and social media managers and the difference between the two. Vanessa DiMauro conveniently charts out the roles that a social media manager has that a community manager doesn’t have. I also read many other articles that pointed out the difference of the two. You can read them here and here.

Although I see the differences, I also see a lot of overlapping. After being a moderator for a week in #CMGRclass and after managing my startups social media accounts, I have some hands on experience. After doing the readings, I keep wondering, “Can you be a social media manager without being a community manager?” and “Can you be a community manager without being a social media manager?”

Below is the chart taken from Vanessa DiMauro’s article “Social Media Manager vs. Online Community Manager: Same or Different?”

B2B Success Measure Role Accountability
Drive leads Social Media Manager Marketing
Raise awareness of products or services Social Media Manager Marketing
Visibility of company, products, services or thought leaders Social Media Manager Marketing
Increase sales Social Media Manager Sales
Event attendance Social Media Manager on public channels, Community manager on community channels Marketing
Customer questions about how to use a product or service Community Manager Customer Service
Learn from customers (e.g. feedback into product development) Community Manager Product Management/R&D
Customer retention / satisfaction Community Manager Sales
Call center reduction/ Improve customers’ ability to get help from each other Community Manager Customer Service
Increase utilization of the products Community Manager Product Management

As you can see, the two roles have different jobs. However, they are also all closely related. For example, once you start to raise awareness of a product or service you will most likely have questions. A lot of these questions will most likely be asked through social media. So, when a customer asks a question through Twitter, who’s role is it to respond? The above chart states that it is a community manager’s role.

A social media manager is constantly checking their social channels and looking at customer’s reactions. They are learning from their customers because they are listening and are aware of patterns. Maybe a “how to” blog post gets more “likes” or “retweets” then a quote does. Knowing this information is useful and they are essentially gaining feedback. The above chart states that passing along feedback is a community manager’s role.

In my opinion, a social media manager is different from a community manager, but only slightly. I think we would find that a social media manager already manages the community that they have built. I also think we would find that a lot of community managers are active on social media. Overall, I think it comes down to the companies understanding of social media and community management. If they truly understand the impact of social media they might want to hire a “Community Manager.” If a company has both a Social Media Manager and a Community Manager, I have a feeling the two department have daily face-to-face meetings.