Interview with Community Manager: Jonas de los Reyes from Yahoo!

Jonas_picJonas de los Reyes is a lead community manager of Yahoo! in Southeast Asia. Jonas has over 10 year experience in online marketing and  is very passionate for all things social media. Jonas also blogs at his personal site. You can follow Jonas on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin

G: How did you build your experience as community manager?

J: For me, it was a combination of things happening in my career that stirred my path to community management. The first was blogger relations. Back in 2006 when I was an e-commerce manager for a local dotcom in the Philippines, I had the opportunity to establish and maintain relationships with some of the top and influential bloggers in the country as part of my strategy to get the word out about our e-commerce service. This eventually led to my involvement in a couple of major blogging events that our company organized because of the relationship that I was able to build with a lot of bloggers.

The second thing is public speaking. The CEO of the company I worked for, a sought-after public speaker, initially asked me to fill in for him in an event. That speaking engagement led to another invitation which led to another. Eventually, I became an “unofficial” evangelist of our company because I would be giving talks about e-commerce, internet marketing and social media in schools, conferences and various events.

The third is customer service. As an e-commerce manager, part of my responsibility is to ensure our clients and their customers are happy and satisfied with our service. There was a lot of customer interfacing that I had to do and this certainly prepared me in so many ways on how to handle a community.

G: What platforms are you most active on?

J: I love to try out new services that connect people and empower them to share, communicate and collaborate. You would often find me in our services like Yahoo! Answers and Flickr but also in other social sites like Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Instagram.

G: What are you top resources for community management?

J: I work very closely with our Editorial team. We have a lot of really great content and this gives us the opportunity to better engage our community. I also work closely with our Product Managers and Product Marketing Managers to ensure they hear out what our community have to say about our products. And I’m regularly in touch with Customer Care since we both tackle community issues and problems.

I follow a lot of blogs that keep me informed and up to speed on developments and studies about community management. I have learned a lot from people like Chris Brogan, Brian Solis, Mitch Joel, Jeremiah Owyang and Chris Pirillo.

G: Where is the best place to build the community?

J: There is no one correct answer for this question because it ultimately will depend on the community’s interest and the company or institution that’s building and managing the community. For gamers, we’ve seen how they’ve thrived on message boards while on the other hand, consumer-based companies see the value of building their communities on a Facebook fan page and/or a Twitter account. I have seen companies deepen their engagement with their communities through a Flickr group or a Yahoo! Groups so building a community really depends on who your community members are and what drives their interest.

G: What do you have to provide the community to make it work?

J: To make a community work, there has to be a platform that enables community members to connect with each other easily and collaborate based on their shared interest. It should be relatively easy for members to join and not make this process very complicated.

Another thing that is needed for a community to thrive is community guidelines. The rules of engagement should be defined from the start and clearly communicated to anyone joining the community. It is imperative to have rules in a community otherwise it will become a haven for trolls, spammers and unwanted characters.

Finally, a community manager plays an important role in building and growing a community. There has to be a point person that would play the role of host, listener, teacher, shepherd, referee and friend to the community. If this is an informal, interest-based community, the group creator and/or moderator usually plays this role. If the community was built by a brand or company, then the community manager/social media manager usually is tasked to be the middle person between the company and internal stakeholders (marketing, PR, customer care, etc.) and the community members.

G: How do you attract new community members?

J: A company or brand who wants to attract new community members should take advantage of paid media and owned media to reach out to new users, to get their attention and get them to join their community. But it’s not as simple as “join us” and new users will immediately join. You should give them a very good reason to join your community. In other words, there has to be value for users to join and it’s clearly communicated to them. Promos are a good way to get people’s attention but it should be used wisely because you want to attract your targeted community members, people who share the same interest and passion as you, and not just people who want to win a prize.

Another way to reach new community members is to empower existing community members to invite people on their networks. Give them the tools to make this easy. Thanks to social media, word of mouth is so much more powerful now. If a community is truly a great place to hang out with people of similar interests, then it’s almost a sure thing that empowered community members will take care of evangelization of new members.

G: What are the best ways to spark a discussion among your community members?

J: There are different topics which can easily spark a discussion among community members. It can be as serious as grey areas in community guidelines or as trivial as a bizarre holiday like “Hug a Newsman Day.” The important thing is the topic is timely, relevant or interesting for the community.

G: Does the size matter?

J: In any community, what’s important to aim for is both quality and quantity. But always aim for quality first. Having community members who truly are passionate about your brand, your product or an interest you both share is a true community. This is the community that will grow and thrive both in engagement and in number. Quantity will follow if quality is prioritized.

G: What are the most common mistakes in community management?

J: One of the most common mistakes companies make when it comes to community management is no clear direction. They want to build communities for the sake of building one, because it’s the “in” thing right now, it’s what other companies are doing. But if you ask them why they are doing it, they fail to connect community management to their business objectives.

Another mistake is lack of ownership. We have seen countless stories of social media blunders caused by interns handling social media accounts of companies. In all of these cases, it’s not the intern to blame (although what some have done is inexcusable) but the leadership of the company who decided that community management is not a priority and not let a manager with a dedicated team handle this responsibility for the company.

One more mistake that companies should stop doing is treating community channels as traditional media. It doesn’t make sense to build a community on a platform that’s designed for communication, collaboration and dialogue and use it for broadcasting only. And yet a lot of companies are guilty of committing this crime. They fail to leverage the value listening to what community members are saying and do not see the opportunities that engagement brings in different aspects of their business to better improve their product, their relationship and their image to their community.

G: How do you deal with social media crisis?

J: From my experience, the best way to approach a social media crisis is to be proactive. This means having as part of your strategy a listening program, constantly monitoring what your community is saying about your company and responding as soon as possible to concerns being voiced out in the different social media channels. Most of the time, an impending crisis can be quelled if somebody from the company immediately responded to the community member. That is why it is crucial for community managers to work closely with internal business stakeholders like marketing, PR, customer care, or sales so that when an issue starts to build up within the community, the community manager can immediately loop in the people involved and respond to the issue. If possible, see if the discussion about the problem can be taken privately like through email. A company should be ready to be transparent about problems that could be the reason for the crisis. Provide enough information to explain to the community about what happened and the next steps that are being done to resolve the issue.

G: How do you measure the ROI of your community?

J: I believe it was Scott Monty (head of social media for Ford) who said that measuring the ROI of social media is like measuring the ROI of putting your pants on every day. You know the value it brings you, it’s just hard to measure specifically how much. This is so true. Measuring ROI of community management is not as simple to explain or easy to understand because a lot of the value it brings is not quantitative. Still, we try to set some numbers that we want to measure and reach when it comes to growing the community. We measure the usual numbers like PVs and UUs, PVs/UUs and time spent and we also measure engagement like comments, shares, likes and mentions.

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This post was written by:

- who has written 111 posts on Social Media Citizens – Interviews with social media influencers from around the world.

Giedrius Ivanauskas is the founder/editor of Social Media Citizens and co-founder of Social Marketing Forum. He also blogs on Social Media Today and Socialemailmarketing.eu. Giedrius is a managing partner at Nearby Digital - location focused social media marketing agency and is passionate explorer of Augmented Reality, Startups and anatomy of Inspiration. He curates inspiration database - Inspirisimo.You can follow Giedrius on Facebook or Twitter

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