How to Build an Internal Community from Scratch

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An Interview with Rocky Vy, Community Marketing Manager, Entrepreneur Media

During Community Management Appreciation Day I was privileged to be on a panel regarding crisis communications with Crystal Henrickson, Jackie Quintana, John Mark Troyer, Deborah Ng, and Rocky Vy. Within that conversation one of the panelists, Rocky Vy, Community Marketing Manager for Entrepreneur Media, surfaced a point that I found not only interesting, but worthy of further exploration.  When recalling best practices from crisis communications in media, he noted that they are now able to proactively head-off a number of issues as a result of an internal community within the company that is conditioned to give Rocky a “heads-up” before they even have a chance to surface within the external community.  In essence, the vibrant internal community that he has worked to build has become significant in buttressing the strength of the external community he manages every day. I sat down with Rocky for an hour to distill the process he designed to cultivate this critical, core internal trust.

How to Build an Internal Community from Scratch
When Rocky first came to Entrepreneur Media, editorial ran point on all things social. So right from the start he realized that it was imperative that he find a way to prove his value as a community manager across the board, even without the editorial job title.

Step 1: Get to know everyone in every department

Rocky’s very first decision was to get to know every person in every department.  It took him over three months to meet with each one, including the CEO, but it helped him gain a critical understanding of how the entire company functioned writ large, and a distinct feel for each group’s dynamic within that greater umbrella.

Step 2: Earn their trust

His understanding of the greater organization allowed him to easily identify ways to plug-in his skill set. He began measuring customer engagement and growth via social across all sectors of Entrepreneur Media and made those results transparent to anyone and everyone within the company.  He included goals within the report, handing out kudos where colleagues would have otherwise missed the fruit of their work. The positive results gave rise to a natural follow-on question from his colleagues: “These stats are great!  Awesome, even!….Now what do we do with them?”

Step 3: Validate your role through an example

That question led Rocky to the Bookstore team within Entrepreneur Media.  They had been so focused on their product that they hadn’t had a chance to properly acquaint themselves with what they could do online socially, that is, until Rocky began publishing their positive statistics on a regular basis.  Building on his acquired knowledge of their group, Rocky began working closely with them to optimize their outreach, designing ways to continue to engage and reward their most active users.

Step 4: Close the collaboration loop

His work with the Bookstore team prompted yet another positive step towards a fruitful internal community as he applied this same process across different parts of Entrepreneur Magazine. He continues to iterate with each group within the company to track, and optimize engagement and now enjoys a positive, strong, internal community thanks to an immense amount of planning and up-front community-building.

His parting advice?

Remember you are not just a Facebooker or a liaison. Take every opportunity to offer suggestions and insights to help your colleagues build their communities.

photo credit: Truthout.org via photopin cc

Shala Burroughs

Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at CloudPeeps
Shala Burroughs is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of CloudPeeps—a company that connects busy startup Founders with authentic, experienced, remote community managers.  She is a Startup Leadership Program Fellow in New York City and an Athena Management Mastermind.  She has previously worked with Women Innovate Mobile, Quartz, and Lerer Ventures. Prior to her foray into the startup community, Shala was an Intelligence Officer with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) where she coordinated the activities of 76 Intelligence Officers across the US.  Don’t worry about her getting to know you—she’s been reading your e-mails for years….

Shala holds a BA in Government from Dartmouth College where she was a 2007 Rockefeller Center Leadership Fellow and continues to serve her alma mater as a member of Dartmouth’s Young Alumni Advisory Board.  She is married to the most patient husband in the world, maintains a fierce passion for cooking, and loves to spend time with her hot mess of a beagle, Kona.

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