Interview with Community Manager: Philip Wride at Zmags

social media citizen philPhilip is Community Manager at Zmags. Previously, he was community manager of  FIFA UK at Electronic Arts and Digital Producer at The Walt Disney Company. You can Follow Phil on Twitter and his blog.

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

P: I started at an early age (16), first as a member of forums and then rapidly moving on to contributing content and managing environments. Special interest fan sites and smaller communities with a core following were the order of the day for several years. I did however take a break to focus on the strategy side rather than the management for a 2 year period and spent that time as a consultant / strategist before diving back in to community management. I think this mix of experience; working from small sites to big communities and with a period of consultancy / strategy has enabled me to develop a reasonably strong grasp of community management and what’s involved.

G: What are your top resources for community management?

P: There are lots of great resources out there but some of the main ones I keep track of are the #cmgr and #cmgrchat hashtags on twitter and Rich Millington’s blog at Feverbee.

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

P: From my experience I’ve got a jaded view of this. If you are looking to build a “community” then your own branded and dedicated space is the best option, Facebook and Twitter build audiences rather than communities (there are a few exceptions). The type and structure of a community will vary from place to place but the biggest thing is ownership, if you are beholden to a 3rd party provider then you start on the back foot in terms of providing for your members.

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

P: You have to provide a space for members to connect with the brand/community and with each other. It has to be easy to converse, consume any content, navigate and have the option for members to interact in both public and private settings.

G: How do you attract new community members?

P: There are two main routes for this; create an environment that members buy in to and an experience they want to share, this word-of-mouth promotion will drip-feed new members in to your community. The other way is external promotion. For a business that may be hitting your mailing list and making them aware that a community exists, it could be Facebook advertising if you are trying to build on Facebook. Essentially it’s about promotion to those people that aren’t yet members.

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

P: This largely depends on the nature of your community and the common thread that’s their reason for being there. Finding common ground that you know will always have differing opinions is always the best way to spark a discussion.

G: How do you reward your community stars?

P: Whilst at EA (Electronic Arts) I created a group labelled “GameChangers”, this was a mix of the most vocal and influential members of the community sprinkled with outsiders; those who didn’t frequent the branded community that often but had their own communities to manage. Their reward was the opportunity to get information early, be part of the decision making process, to come in to the office to see things first-hand and generally take a step closer to the brand and product. A number of them were flown from the UK over to Vancouver to meet the product development team and exchange ideas.

G: Does the size matter?

P: Size doesn’t matter. The aim for a branded community is to ensure anyone that uses the space builds stronger relationships with the brand and with other users.

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

P: Some of the most common mistakes I’ve noticed can be split in to the following; wrong internal department trying to create and manage a community, lack of resources and support for the Community Manager, lack of understanding of the value of a Community. To avoid them they need to do the due diligence (like any marketing project, acquisition or costly activity) before launching one.

G: Do you have any social media crisis management experience?

P: The best way to approach the problem is to plan well in advance, create a strategy of how to deal with a situation, who should manage it and what the likely scenarios are for a crisis. They can’t always be avoided but you can prepare and put processes and support mechanisms in place to deal with them.

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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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