Interview with Community Manager: Joel Windels from Brandwatch


Joel is Community Manager at Brandwatch, Europe’s leading social media monitoring tool. As well as spending much of his time in the social media sphere, Joel’s background has been in the computer games industry, spanning development, usability, marketing, journalism and community management. He is currently based in Brighton, UK. You can follow Joel on  Twitter or LinkedIn.

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

J: I think much of the learning of community management comes from skills gained outside the job itself. Fostering relationships, developing writing skills and learning about industries are all things that are learnt as you progress generally, rather than skills that you can learn on a course.

I personally gained a lot of experience when dealing with large numbers of community members, each with different needs and particular interests that had to be catered for. Having a team to work with is extremely useful, but the hardest lessons are learnt when you’re on your own.

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

J: Well, working for a social media monitoring company, my primary focuses are on Twitter and relevant social media websites. There’s always something appropriate on LinkedIn and Quora, regardless of industry; it’s down to you to find the groups and communities that are most relevant to you. We use our own tool, Brandwatch, too determine exactly where the best conversation is having by using our own name as query, as well as searching for keywords about SMM.

It’s important to have a central hub for your content. Having a branded company blog that is then distributed through the other channels is often a good method to employ. Facebook is excellent for business-to-customer community managers, though for companies that only deal with b2b relationships, the value of a like can be less useful. I would say Twitter is currently the best place for building a community, though not necessarily managing one.  It’s also very important to stay on top of upcoming platforms, such as Google+, so that you are always one step ahead.

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

J: Communities are not just broadcasting platforms; they must be places in which both the company and the consumers are engaging in two-way discussion. High quality content is always going to be a useful draw to new members and a focal point for discussion for your existing members, though you should be mindful to include interesting things your competitors, customers and other stakeholders produce too. What you should be trying to provide is a forum for people to engage with a certain business, brand or industry, not just trying to make a place for people to hear you shout about how great your employers are.

G: How do you attract new community members?

J: There are different ways to incentivise new community members. Again, it is more applicable with companies that sell directly to the consumer, as mass-audience tactics can be used to generate new members. Novelties such as social media site incentives (quizzes, competitions, games) that are only unlocked through subscription, follows or likes are a fundamental technique when it comes to increasing the size of your communities, but maintaining your existing ones can be just as important.

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

J: We try to balance thought-leadership pieces that are at the cutting edge of industry discussion with more fun, traffic-generating articles. By having a content plan, posts and features can be carefully structured to align with wider company targets.

G: Does the size matter?

J: It largely depends on the industry. For specialised industries such as ours, there is little point to working towards generating 100k likes on our Facebook page for example. We foster a small community of influential and vocal individuals in the social media industry. We try to make sure we are involved in the right discussions at the top level of current thought in our sector through our community connections.  Mass-market companies such as retail chains should be less interested in this niche content and aim to establish a widely-spread community, in order to identify advocates and maintain as large a customer base as possible.

G: How do you manage a social media crisis?

J: Whilst working for a games research company, we provoked quite a lot of negative feedback after publishing some of our results. Gamers are one of the most vocal types of users on the internet and are often the first to complain or dissent.  Despite knowing this, it can be difficult not to take such comments to heart, and trying to engage with ‘trolls’ and irrational commenters can actually end up in more negative feedback than if left untouched. We found that establishing a unified company message helped us all when dealing with these issues: something that all staff members can refer to when approaching the topic.

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

J: Simple metrics can be used to measure community ROI, depending on the objectives. We use lead conversions, click throughs, RTs, traffic and plenty of other metrics when measuring our ROI.

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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