A friend of mine on Twitter noted that the AddThis team, which is a clearspring company, provides great support via its community. I reached out to Justin Thorp, the Community Manager for AddThis, to learn more.
Q. How does social media fit into the overall goals of your business?
A. We utilize social media as a way to meet potential customers and sustain relationships with our existing customers.
Q. What processes did you put in place to enable going social?
A. There wasn’t really any process. When I started 2+ years ago, the executive team knew that they needed to be out there talking to our customers and the community at large more than they were. On day one, I was given the keys to the car and told to get started. I quickly looked for where the community and our customers were spending their time and I jumped in.
Q. What social communication policies have you put in place?
A. I wouldn’t say that we have policies. It’s more work flows and best practices to ensure that we’re always putting out the best we can but still optimized for agility. For example, every time we write something, it’s read by someone for copy editing and then by that product group leader for accuracy and messaging check.
Q. How did you go about tool selection?
A. We’re all about using whatever best-in-class tools that help us to effectively meet potential customers and sustain relationships with our existing ones.
Q. How many people do you have monitoring the social channels today?
A. It’s primarily me but I get a lot of great help from our Director of User Experience, Creative Director, VP of Engineering, Tech Support Lead, and even our CEO will jump in from time to time.
Q. How large is the community you manage and what types of users do you engage with?
A. The AddThis user community is very large. AddThis is currently deployed on over 1.5 million websites that, according to comScore, reach over 674 million end users every month. This includes everyone from the Royal British Monarchy to Perez Hilton to a dentist’s office. We work to give them all the same first class experience.
Q. Do you measure ROI today? If yes, how? What have been the early results?
A. Measuring the direct ROI derived from community and social media efforts is more art than science. It’s hard to draw strict causal relationships. We do though keep a very close eye on a number of key performance indicators about the health of the community, which we believe directly relate to how well we stay in touch with and provide quality to our customers.
Q. What KPIs do you monitor, even as a couple of examples?
A. For example, we look closely at how many websites have integrated AddThis. We look at how many people those websites reach. Obviously, the goal is for those to continue to increase. It’s a big Web and there are always more people that we can help.
Q. If you had to estimate a return, while difficult, what ballpark would it be at?
A. We focus on giving our customers a top-notch experience with the hope that maybe they’ll go back to their friends and tell them about us. We firmly believe that based on the growth that we’ve seen that this has worked very well.
Q. How, if at all, do your social media tools fit in with your other backend systems like CRM, ERP, HRIS, etc..?
A. We’re currently experimenting with how we can better use social media tools with our CRM system. I don’t believe the integration is as good as it can be so it’s something that we continue to monitor closely.
Q. Do you do anything with mobile solutions?
A. Absolutely, I use Twitter on my iPhone all the time. A number of times I’ve responded to customer tweets while standing on the subway platform, waiting for the train home.
Q. What is the next big thing on the community front in your opinion?
A. Over the next year, we’re going to see a plethora of tools come out that will continue to make it easier for us to “scale caring.” With the size of our community being what it is, it’s hard to stay in touch with everyone. The future will bring tools that will help to tie together all the existing platforms so that you can really focus on building relationships.