Interview with an Industry Insider: Crystal Henrickson

This month’s Interview with an Industry Insider series features Crystal Henrickson, Community Manager extraordinaire and Head of Community Management at Invoke Labs. She’s incredibly talented & extremely knowledgeable about all things CM, and will be hosting the Community Manager CampAway later next month.

Crystal Henrickson

1. What exactly does a Community Manager (CM) do? 

While no two days are ever the same, there are certainly repeated themes pulsing through:

  • Engaging with and supporting people across multiple channels: social, email, offline.
  • Acting as a feedback conduit to the internal team (this is especially true in startup environments). We want to help make products and our user’s experiences better!
  • Creating and sharing awesome content ideas, helpful insights, etc.
  • Connecting community members and strategic partners.
  • Onboarding and building up new community members.

2. How did you discover this job? Did you know what a CM was before applying? Or did your position evolve from something else?

I have to owe it all to Craigslist. I came across the role while helping someone post a different job. Truthfully, I had no idea what a Community Manager was when I first applied for a role at Yelp, and honestly it took me diving in to really understand the impact of the work we were doing. When I realized all of those intersections, I saw that I had often been a Community Manager my whole career, just posing under different titles.

3. What’s the difference between a Social Media Manager and Community Manager?

While some Community and Social Media Managers are more or less performing the same function on social media, a Community Manager takes a multiple medium approach to engagement, while participating alongside of their community. You could find a Community Manager in their own environment (for example a game), rarely coming into contact with social media as a platform to connect with their members.

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4. Why does a company need a CM? Does a start-up need a CM more than a larger, well-established company? Or vice versa? why?

Any organization that is focused on their customer’s experience should invest in a Community Manager. As the champion of the customer’s voice, engagement has the potential to go beyond the realm of support. In a well-established company, the need to monitor and maintain a certain level of interaction is important. For startups it’s about building up the core audience from the beginning. At both levels, brand advocacy is vital. For more depth, I recently wrote about the importance of startups hiring Community Managers on the Invoke Labs blog.

5. What’s the toughest aspect of your job? And the coolest?

The coolest? That’s easy – it’s the relationships that are developed that also serve as a catalyst to connect them to others and to products too! The toughest – that’s probably measuring sentiment. There are so many tools out there now, but at the end of the day, often the measure of happiness is still anecdotal.

6. How do you deal with trolls and/or haters? What’s your mantra? Do you engage or do you ignore? What platform do you engage them on if you do?

Like any relationship, each case of a hater or troll should be treated uniquely. Engaging or ignoring as well as platform choices come down to a judgement call based on the specifics. Practice makes perfect: the more often you come in contact with situations like these, the better you can gauge how to proceed.

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At Community Manager CampAway next month, Nicole Van Zanten, Social Media Manager for the Vancouver Canucks will be tackling this tough issue.

7. What are some handy tools that make your life as a CM easier?

Sharing: HootSuite, Post Beyond, Pocket

Monitoring: SocialMention, IceRocket

Engaging:, SocialRank

Measuring: FollowerWonk, SumAll, Google Analytics

Organizing: Asana, Google Docs, Evernote

8. How does a CM measure their success?

Because so many campaigns/projects and daily tasks can go un-measured, it’s important to define clear set goals at the onset that measure both qualitative and the quantitative. For example, the full effect of an event might not be felt until long after the event itself. Having short and long term KPIs associated can help highlight some of those longer term effects that you’re striving towards. On a more granular level, setting benchmarks for daily and weekly activities can reward and monitor the process, even if we fall shy on the result.


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