Interview with Community Manager: Shruti Shah Goradia from Kodak

Shruti Shah GoradiaShruti Goradia is the Social Media Community Manager for Kodak’s Tips & Projects Exchange: a branded community for creative enthusiasts. In this role she manages all aspects of the community to drive business goals. Shruti leads the strategy for reach, influence and impact via owned, earned and paid media, which drives product integration to optimize brand loyalty, customer satisfaction and revenue. She is proud to be on the front lines of interacting with Kodak consumers, championing community and customer feedback internally. You can follow Shruti on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin.

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

S: This greatly depends on what your objectives are. We had the Tips & Projects Center – which was a treasure trove of educational and inspiration content around photography. We had our 1000words and PluggedIn blogs. What we did not have was a platform where our customers could share their ideas and engage with one another. Thus was born the Tips & Projects Exchange – Kodak’s branded online community. It has become a great place for us to interact with our consumers directly, learn from them, and for them to learn and inspire each other.

I would recommend having a branded community site or blog as the home base and use the content from those to feed Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other social media platforms. Wall posts and tweets disappear into oblivion whereas bog posts and community articles live forever.

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

S: Passion, subject matter expertise, thought leadership, encouragement, transparency and a platform.

G: How do you attract new community members? 

S: Spreading the word amongst current customers, reaching out to active passionate within your area (photography, scrapbooking, videography and memory keeping in our case), establishing a dialogue via twitter, SEO, word of mouth and more.

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

S: Staying ahead of the curve on new and emerging trends within your area, tracking your metrics and insights, and seeing what works and what doesn’t. We have seen great success when we share personal stories or humanize the brand – as in bringing out our product managers – making them accessible to the community. Spotlighting members, their passion and their stories has been extremely valuable as well – on many levels – for community members as well us for driving innovation within our products.

G: What kinds of content do you share and post most often on the community platforms?  

S: Anything related to imaging – from photography tips and techniques to product how-to’s, to printing tricks and innovative video material.

G: How do you reward your community stars?

S: In a lot of small and big ways: Firstly, I maintain an ongoing dialogue with my power users. I look to them for advise in shaping the community, tracking trends and any other feedback they may have. When we recently redesigned the community site I got great input from my power users and incorporated their suggestion into the redesign. I provided a sneak peek walk-through of the new site before we went live to them as well as a few others.

When we’re planning a contest or activation (for TPX, and within broader Kodak) I reach out to some of my stars and ask them if they have photos, videos or projects they would allow me to use for promoting the same. Some of them have created special content just to be used in these instances. This gives them great airtime and coverage, for example: inclusion in Kodak’s ‘Picture This newsletter’ which goes out to about 3M people a month, or being featured on the homepage, or on the Kodak Times Square billboard which is seen by millions weekly.

When my super star scrapbooker Anke Turco, crossed the 100 project mark, I interviewed her for the 1000words blog post. If we’re doing product trials or give-aways and other opportunities, our power users are often our first port of call.

Active members within the community are spotlighted in several different ways, for example: On our Member Spotlights – interview members page, where they share their story and some of their (and mine) favorite works. Kodak Pick of the Week – these are blogged in our Community Corner, tweeted, and get included in the monthly community newsletter.We’re also constantly tweeting (@kodakcommunity) about projects and ideas submitted by the members. I’m currently working on giving some of my super users a more official standing and getting them involved in authoring content, challenges and such things for the community.

G: Does the size matter?

S: I strongly believe in quality over quantity. If you have thousands of members but little active participation and engagement, it’s of little value. A true community is when the members are invested and participate regularly.

G: What are the most common mistakes in community management? What should companies do to avoid them?

Communities are spaces to build one-to-one relationships. They are not spaces for mass marketing. One size does not fit all. Before you launch a community it is very important to have established goals and guidelines, and dedicate resources towards the same. There needs to be a process for interaction, support, escalation and constant TLC. A full-time community manager is a MUST. A couple of part timers would be great as well. Do not outsource the management of your community – that’s like outsourcing your social life – that is just not natural.

G: Do you have any social media crisis management experience? If yes, what is the best way to approach the problem?

S: Crisis management – is anticipating that something is going to go wrong, and then being prepared for it. Set up an escalation process, build a support channel, and be available when something goes wrong – whether it’s late in the evening or over the weekend. Not addressing an issue is the worst thing one can do. If the Community Manager is going to be away – a proxy needs to be set up in advance, and you have to let the community know of this change… which brings us back to transparency and authenticity.

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

S: Membership, participation, engagement, return visits, social sharing, and direct sales.

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

S: Moving from being the Content Manager of the Kodak’s Tips & Projects Center to the Community Manager of the Tips & Projects Exchange (Kodak’s branded online community when we integrated the Community features was a natural extension for me. I read up a couple of books and several blogs on launching and managing communities. At that time I found FeverBee’s ‘How to Build An Online Community: The Ultimate List Of Resources” and “The Art of Community” by Jono Bacon to be very helpful. My personal experience as a host and event planner and passion for the topic greatly helped in preparing for the role.

G: What platforms are you most active on?

S: Tips & Projects Exchange, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr

G: What are you top resources for community management?

S: My top resources are:

All kinds of Blogs – they are very creative about content, interaction and keeping ‘em coming back.

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 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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