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Customer Cheerleader: Gossip from a Community Manager

Jacob Pastrovich is the community manager here at SumAll.

What does that mean exactly? Well it means he’s responsible for our social media presence and strategy; he works as part of our branding and marketing teams to make sure our initiatives and voice come across on SM. Reaching out to customers on a regular basis to help out in any way, gathering feedback, and trying to flesh out common problems or issues some of our users have in blog form via a series called “The SumBudsman” are all part of the job description.

What’s a normal workday for you?

Every day can be quite a bit different but a normal day sees me doing any number of the following:

Before I get into the office I scan my e-mails and our social media for anything urgent or for things I can start thinking about on my way to the office. As soon as I come in I answer those important e-mails, then check all of our social media channels and answer tweets that came in while I was asleep. I usually like to thank or send a message to everyone that shared one of our blog posts or that says something great about SumAll. I also like to respond to folks that might have problems or I flag them for support. From there I typically schedule about half of the social media posts for the day, usually links to our new blog posts, interesting press, all the while I’m looking at relevant articles I think our followers will like.

From there I always have projects I’m working on. I might do some research and planning into a marketing/social media campaign we want to pursue. I reach out to some of our customers just to check in, and pretty soon I’ll be making some rounds to companies here in New York that are using SumAll, just to get a better idea of how they’re using us or if they’d like to see something from us in the future.

“I want to be able to help our customers and relate their ideas to our team. I’m not just cheerleading for SumAll, just as important, I’m cheering for our customers.”

We have just the right amount of meetings here in my opinion. Enough to keep the communication flowing, but not too many where I’m not getting any work done. We have a blog planning meeting each week that usually turns into a bit of a brainstorming session, which I really like. At the start of the week I usually find out what common problems our customers are having or a new feature we want to talk about and start to craft a blog post. That usually includes me combining screenshots, writing the copy, and even creating videos to go along with the post. Since we usually publish our blog posts toward the end of the day, I do more rounds on social media (multiple times throughout the day actually), making sure to post or schedule our new content and respond to people.

How active should companies be on social media? Should they try to go for breadth and have a presence on every network or only focus on a few?

It really depends on what type of company you are. In terms of activity, I think if you care at all, or want to cultivate a level of conversation with your customers/audience, you should be an active player on at least Twitter and Facebook. Those are the two go-to channels you need to be on and post regularly to. If your following is more B2B related, you should spend more time on LinkedIn and Quora. If you have a creative bent, making sure you have a Tumblr that reflects your vision is important. For retailers and creatives, Pinterest and Instagram have proven to be great sources for engagement and conversions.

I’ve seen companies get overwhelmed and think that they should create an account for every social media under the sun. Inevitably many of those fall by the wayside, which isn’t good because then you have an abandoned point of entry to your brand. If that’s someone’s first interaction with you, it can be detrimental. Determining what your social media strategy should be is really about taking a step back and objectively thinking about your company and who your audience is. For us, there’s a reason we’re not on Snapchat.

Do community managers mainly focus their efforts on online outreach or is real-world relationship building part of it as well?

Again, I think this is really dependent on the company. If you’re a local ice cream parlor, your interactions are primarily with you customers in the physical realm. That doesn’t mean you can’t cultivate a cool online presence with them by offering promotions on social channels or asking them to use a hashtag when they’re snapping photos of their sundae. That said, I think the notion of today’s “community manager” starts online (and sometimes stays there) and then becomes fluid depending on your audience.

Why is it important for a business to have a community manager?

Social media presence aside, most businesses will find that as they grow, they need someone that is available to connect with their community. Often, many employees have responsibilities that might overlap with those of a community manager, hence they might not have one, which might work for some. However, I think you always need to have someone willing to relate with customers and bring their input back to your team.

Prior to social media, print newspapers and traditional media outlets typically had an employee called an ombudsman; someone to listen to reader complaints, then write about them. This is where the idea for “The SumBudsman” comes from. I want to be able to help our customers and relate their ideas to our team. I’m not just cheerleading for SumAll, just as important, I’m cheering for our customers.

How do you handle some of the negative feedback you receive from customers?

We always try to respond to support questions within a day, which our support person Mahssa is awesome at. A lot of the time folks take to social media to air their grievances, which we also respond to. We always try to get to the bottom of problems and offer a solution. If a customer gets fed up with a particular aspect of our service, we try as best we can and get them to come back, with the understanding that we really are working to make our product the best it can be. For those that might not find us useful at the moment, we understand and hope they come back to us in the future as we add more platforms, functionality, and tools to make their experience better.

Want to hear more from Jacob? Tweet him at @SumAll .