Like many other great people, I’ve met Frank Emanuele, aka Frank Ramblings, on Twitter. More on that in a second… Frank is a real social media geek with a wide range of interests, as you’re about to hear. In this interview he shares the journey that has taken him from the MySpace trenches into joining the Likeable Media firm as a Community Manager. Likeable is an award-winning social media leveraging and word of mouth marketing firm with 200+ clients and offices in 3 cities. Likeable Media see transparency as one of their core values (source: Likeable Media mission) and Frank is here to walk their talk: Throughout the interview he passionately reveals invaluable tips on how to become a Community Manager, on his day-to-day experience with clients and powerful strategies Likeable use to engage with their audience on social media. I can’t thank Frank enough for having taken the time to do this interview with me. Please share your feedback in the comments!
How I started using Twitter
Adam: Alright. So, I’ll just present you. Here we’ve got Frank Emanuele who I got to know through Twitter actually. I think if I’m not mistaken, I posed a question about Twitter addiction and I think you replied to that question and we started talking about Twitter chats and I realized that you’re quite an interesting personality so I wanted to interview you. Is that right? Is it alright if I just read the bio that you’ve got on Twitter because it’s quite …
Adam: … interesting. You said you are …
Frank: Sure. Go ahead.
Adam: You’re a proud Catholic, social media nerd, podcaster, musician, blogger, New Yorker and the community manager at Likeable Media. I’m all about Superman, Star Wars and the Beatles. So it sounds that you’ve got quite a wide range of interests and hobbies. So I was wondering what brought you into social media in particular because I’ve been looking through your blog in Tumblr and you’re really into quite a few different subjects, in comics and tech.
Frank: Right. Yes. I do have quite a wide range of interests. What got me into social media, I guess it really started with MySpace, which I guess did for a lot of us, but yes, going over back to MySpace. My friends were all getting on it and I wanted to see what it was about so I checked it out and then from there, I went to Facebook and I was never as interested in Facebook as I was in MySpace. I don’t know why but MySpace was definitely dead so I wasn’t going to stick around there anymore. So I was on Facebook and then in 2008, someone told me about Twitter and that’s when things really started to take off for me. Twitter is my favorite, absolute favorite social network.
At the time, I was getting into podcasts. I’ve been into podcasting for a couple of years and I was getting to know other people who were into listening to the same podcasts that I was into and listening to some of my podcasts. I got to know them through forums, message boards and on these podcasts that I was listening to, people were talking about Twitter. These were not tech-related podcasts or social. They were about TV shows but we were all watching the same shows and going on forums to talk about them and then listening to the same podcasts together. So people started talking about hey, I’m using Twitter. Let’s talk over there.
So I joined Twitter just so I could follow the people who I was already talking to on those message boards and that’s kind of where it all started. That’s where it really started to kick off. I got really, really into Twitter after a while. It took me some time but I really got into it and almost three years later, I’ve tweeted over 70,000 times.
Frank: And I follow about 600 people. I’ve got about 1200 followers. Not huge but it’s people who I’m interested in talking with and engaging with and it’s growing all the time. So yes, that’s how you could say I got into social media. It all started with MySpace and then kind of grew from there.
Adam: The good old days of MySpace before …
Frank: Yes, yes.
Adam: … Facebook took over.
Adam: Yes. I’ve actually had a look at your Twitter account and quite interestingly, even though you don’t have that many followers, you’re really engaged and you actually talk to people all the time. That’s how it seems at least.
Frank: I do.
Adam: That’s right.
Frank: I do. Yes. I mean that’s why I started using it in the first place was to talk with people who I was already friendly with and I can’t even tell you how many friends, good friends I’ve made through Twitter. People who I didn’t know at all, never heard of and then we started talking on Twitter and then we met in real life and now we’re good friends. We talk on the phone. We text. Like we’re close. I’m close friends with a number of people and it’s all thanks to Twitter. If it wasn’t for that, I never would have known these people and a big part of my life would be missing honestly.
Adam: Yes. I couldn’t identify more with you actually on that. I’ve made many friends on Twitter as well.
Adam: And do you find that Twitter is like the hub where everything comes together, where you combine all of your different social endeavors? Is that your main hangout place on the Web and that’s …
Frank: Oh, without a doubt, without a doubt. I’ve just joined Google Plus and that’s pretty interesting but not enough people are on there yet. Everybody is on Facebook but it’s almost like there’s too many people on Facebook, people who I don’t want to really talk to necessarily. I feel like I’m obligated to be friends with a lot of people on Facebook. Twitter is all about who I’m interested in, who I want to talk to. It’s a list of people that I’ve cultivated over three years and I’ve said these are the people I want to hear from. These are the people I don’t want to hear from and yes, it’s the hub. It’s the central nexus of all social media for me. It’s where I get my news. It’s where I keep up with my friends. It’s where I make new friends so yes.
Adam: Is that the same account you’re using for everything? Because I see sometimes that the company you work, you mention them on your Twitter stream as well. So I wonder how you find the balance between personal life and professional life or maybe you have separate accounts for that.
Frank: Actually, that is my main account. I have other accounts for silly things. My main account is Frank Ramblings. I’ve got another account called Beatle Ramblings. I tweet a lot about the Beatles because they are my favorite band of all time. I tweet a lot about them and sometimes, some of my friends would be like, “Alright. Listen, I like you but I don’t want to hear you talk about the Beatles all the time.”
So when I get into those fits of tweeting about the Beatles, I just go over to Beatle Ramblings and I tweet from there. Just the people who want it, who want to see it will see it and people who don’t want to see it don’t have to put up with it. But other than that, I’ve got different Twitter accounts for my different podcasts so you can keep up with those. But aside from that, my main account is just Frank Ramblings and I tweet both personal and professional stuff from there because the way I see it, some people say, “Don’t you want to make a separate account so that your coworkers don’t see your personal stuff?” I’m friends with my coworkers and I’m friends with my boss and I feel like I have nothing to hide.
So anything I can say on my personal account, I can have my coworkers, I can have my professional contacts see. So, I have nothing to hide.
How I became a Community Manager at Likeable Media
Adam: … before we elaborate more about Likeable Media, I was wondering if you could tell a little bit about what it actually means to be a community manager and how you got into this role.
Frank: Sure. I guess I’ll start with how I got there and then we’ll talk about what it really means. So I started out as an intern at Likeable Media late 2010 and I found out about it through an internship fair. I was still attending school at the time and I went there. I met with someone from Likeable and I applied. I went for an interview and that went very well so they offered me an internship which I accepted and I had done other internships but this was the biggest learning experience that I’ve had.
In just a few short months, I really learned a lot. I was doing a lot of hands-on work. This wasn’t the kind of internship where I was getting coffee for some executive or filing papers or something. I was actually doing hands-on work engaging with people, working with these clients through my managers, my community manager and others and getting some real field experience. So my internship was up. I had kind of talked with the management and they offered me a position there. So I very happily accepted it and that’s how I’m now a community manager.
I guess I should explain. We’re a social media marketing agency so we handle the social media presences for our clients. So this is clients as small as like little mom-and-pop stores or even charities all the way up to big, recognizable brands like Neutrogena. We work with them to make them more likeable. That’s our motto. All brands should be likeable so my role as community manager is to see to it kind of on a direct level that everything that gets posted on their Facebook and everything that gets posted on Twitter helps them achieve their goals and helps us to make them more likeable.
So that means coming up with the content that’s going to go up on their Facebook pages and Twitter pages. I sit with my own interns now to support me and I work with a social media strategy director. I work with her on creating the strategies and then my responsibility is to put them into practice, execute them. So that’s kind of the general gist.
How you can become a community manager yourself!
Adam: Alright. Sounds very interesting. If one of our listeners wanted to become a community manager, where would you say is the best place to start for him or her?
Frank: Best place to start is right on Twitter, right on Facebook. You’re starting right there. Build a presence for yourself. Make connections. Build a community around yourself and get engaged with them and learn as much as you can on your own before you do anything else. That’s number one. That’s what I did. I didn’t know that’s what I was doing but it’s essentially what I did. I was preparing myself for this role getting to know Twitter and Facebook and YouTube and LinkedIn and Foursquare and all the different social media platforms that are in use today and staying on top of the news, reading Mashable, reading TechCrunch, reading all those sites, knowing your stuff, reading blogs.
Once you do that and you still know this is definitely what you want to do, this is where you want to be, this is the space you want to be in, next is find the company that will help you do that. Find the people, like-minded people and see if you can get an internship there or just any kind of social media experience whether that’s on the brand side or on the agency side. But try and get as much practical experience as you can and then once you’ve got the experience, you should make yourself stand out. As you’re getting the experience, I guess, make yourself stand out and show that you have the passion, you have the drive and you have the knowledge to do this. Once you have done that, if you’ve done it correctly, if you’ve really pushed yourself as hard as you can, you will get noticed and things will start to work out for you.
Adam: It sounds like a very stimulating job. I imagine that for many of our listeners, that’s what they do anyway. So it’s just taking it to the next level, isn’t it?
Frank: Yes, yes. It’s pushing yourself as hard as you possibly can. I mean when I was an intern, I had my hours, were like 9:00 to 5:00 but I was staying late at the office. I was bringing work home with me to get it finished. I was doing whatever was necessary just to get the work done at the highest quality possible and to keep the clients happy, make the clients happy and that’s when I was an intern.
Once I actually took on a fulltime position, I really had to bring it to the next level and now I really work extra hard and I’m always looking for new ways to be as efficient as I can and get as much work done as I can and keep the clients happy. I mean my clients are great. They never pressure. They never push. They’re really, really fantastic and that drives me even harder to want to make them happy and do what I can for them to help them achieve their goals. So, yes, it’s a lot of hard work and it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. You have to really be excited about social media and about the brands that you’re working with and you really have to always be willing to go an extra step.
The Thank You Economy and why transparency is key
Adam: … which I’ve actually started reading and I mean if I could sum it up in a few sentences, I can say that Gary speaks about the importance of being transparent and about really paying it forward and recognizing when you’ve made a mistake and also thanking your customer and it seems like this is also in line with the Likeable Media’s mission statement.
Adam: Would you elaborate a little bit about this?
Frank: Absolutely. Absolutely. Our core values are drive, passion, transparency, likeability. These are all things that are essential to marketing in general but especially the social media marketing.
Transparency is one of the hugest, most important things that there is. If a brand can’t be honest with its fans, then there’s a real disconnect there. People have a good sense of when they’re being told the truth and when they’re being lied to and you really can’t play with that. They’re just going to know so what you need to do is you have to care and care passionately and show how much you care and mean it. You can’t fake it. It has got to be genuine. If it’s not genuine, the whole thing is going to fall apart.
You can’t try and push a terrible product on people and play it off as being great. That’s not going to work. If you’ve got a terrible product, they’re going to find out and it’s going to backfire on you because when they post on your Facebook wall, they’re going to tell the whole world how terrible your product is. Just because you have a Facebook page doesn’t mean that you’re going to do great. You have to be transparent and that has to drive you to improve your product, improve your services, to want to please those customers and the more you do that, the more there’s going to be sort of a feedback loop.
You do good things for the people, they’re going to come back and repay you with good feedback and that should inspire you to want to do even more good things, provide them with more good products and services and it should just be a loop that continues round and round from there.
I mean my CEO, Dave Kerpen, very wisely says in his own book, the four most important words in social media are “thank you” and “I’m sorry”.
Adam: Yes. I’ve seen the video. There’s a video about it on your Facebook page.
Adam: … I’ve seen that where he says that.
Frank: And it’s very true. If you aren’t saying thank you, then you’re not going to keep people and if you can’t say I’m sorry, you’re going to be turning them off. So, yes, we’re all about transparency at Likeable.
Costumer engagement strategies used by Likeable Media right now
Adam: And as far as you can share obviously, what key strategies are you using to engage your audience in social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter? What are the main strategies you’re using?
Frank: It’s actually really pretty simple when you get right down to it. It gets down to trying to get people to talk, right? The way Facebook works, you post the status and it shows up in people’s newsfeeds, right? Most of the time, people don’t actually go to a Facebook page of a brand that they like. They don’t go there every single day. They see the updates in their newsfeed when they check Facebook and the way things get sorted in Facebook is by like popularity. It’s called edge rank. That’s the term that Facebook has come up with and basically, the way it works is the more likes and comments that a status gets, the longer it stays in your newsfeed and the closer to the top of your newsfeed it will be.
So we try to come up with content that we think is going to get lots of likes and comments and we push the envelope as many ways as we can. We try different things. It can be as simple as asking people to like a status. Just putting “like this status if you agree” or something like that or a really great way is to put a question, a simple question that people will want to answer. I mean it’s not really rocket science. It’s the simple tools of communication that we already have in everyday life. If you want someone to talk to you, you’re going to start the conversation somehow and that we’re just applying it to the internet. But it’s finding the ways that people engage more and engage less and trying out new and innovative ideas all the time. That’s what keeps us on our toes.
How to get started with Twitter Chats
Adam: Alright. As for Twitter, I know that you’ve been using Twitter chats, right? Do you …
Adam: … do it for your brand as well, for Likeable?
Frank: Yes. Every Sunday night at 10:00 PM Eastern, we have Likeable chat. It’s a great, great experience. I’ve met so many people as a result of Likeable chat in just a few weeks that we’ve been doing it. It has been over a month and I’ve met hundreds of people already who I think are really smart, great thought leaders in the social media space and yes, Twitter chats, I’m a huge fan of them. I had never really done very many until last month and now, I’m all about Twitter chats.
Adam: So what does someone need to do just to get started? Just to search for the hashtag, for the relevant hashtag?
Frank: Yes. Every Twitter chat has a hashtag already associated with it. All you need to do is be running a search for the hashtag and be updating it and you’ll be seeing the people who are talking about it at that time. A really easy way to do this is you go to TweetChat.com. They have a tool where you just type in the hashtag and it automatically refreshes every minute or so or every 30 seconds. I’m not sure what the interval is.
It automatically refreshes and it automatically sets it up so that you can talk to the people who are using that hashtag and you don’t even have to remember to include the hashtag. It will put it at the end of your tweet for you. Really, really easy and convenient. I use it every Sunday night for #LikeableChat. It’s really, really awesome. It’s a great way to engage with people who have the same interests as you do.
If you’re looking for a Twitter chat to participate in, a simple Google search for the topic that you like and Twitter chat at the end will yield a lot I’m sure. If you’re looking for social media Twitter chats, right on the Likeable.com blog, we have a list. Just like last week, one of my colleagues posted a list of some great Twitter chats about social media that you could really check out other than Likeable chat. There are some really great ones. So, I highly recommend checking those out but like I said, even a simple Google search will yield whatever you like.
Adam: Wonderful. So, just to sum this up, if people want to find you, to get a hold of you or to chat with you, where would they go?
Frank: The easiest place to find me and chat with me, you’ll always get an answer, is Twitter.com/FrankRamblings. I’m at Frank Ramblings. I answer everybody. No reply goes unanswered so yes, definitely check me out there. I’ve also got a website, FrankRamblings.com. Those are my primary channels but come engage. We’ll talk about anything and I look forward to hearing from anybody.
Adam: That’s great. That’s great. So, is there anything you wanted to say to add?
Frank: I just want to thank you for having me. It has been really great to chat with you. It has been great chatting with you both on Twitter and off and I look forward to seeing how this series of yours works out.
Adam: Alright. Thank you very much. It has been a real pleasure.
Frank: Thanks. You too, Adam.
Adam: See you soon.
What about you?
What strategies are you using to engage customers?
Would you like to become a Community Manager as well?
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!
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