Gen Z: 5 Lessons in community management

Yesterday I presented at Social Media The Way Forward conference along side hero Gavin Heaton.  The insights were taken from working with the Red Bull Bedroom Jam and the community of 9,500+ generation z. We’ve got another great team for 2011 and look forward to repeated success.

Here are the outtakes.  Pic above is from one of my favourite communities Detour Espresso Bar

Social media is story telling

We (Weber Shandwick) believe social media is about story telling.  The way we tell those stories is through content, communications and community management.

Success must be defined before all else. Know your business outcomes, how your social media objectives feed into them, and how your community milestones and metrics apply.

Lesson 1: Know your audience

  • Research & Listening
    • What period of time should we listen for?
    • What tools are available to us? Which ones are relevant?
    • What are listening for?
    • What is desired outcome for this research?
    • Generation Z:
      • What do they value?
      • What do they fear?
      • What do they want?
      • What won’t they expect?


Gen Z have “liked” a sea of Facebook Pages with little discretion – you’re going to  need to stand out.


Lesson 2: Know thy self

  • Fundamentals of marketing comms
    • Understand your brand before you engage
    • Identify your brand values and vulnerabilities
    • Look at your custom touch points
    • What is their current view on you?
    • The voice of your brand, and the ears of your community
      • Their objectives should be driven by business outcomes
      • Skill sets:
        • Communications
        • Customer service
        • Data analytics and intreptations

Lessons 3: Know your community managers


Generation Z will see straight through a non-authentic voice – be yourself. Not them.

Lesson 4: Know your numbers

  • What do we actually do with 100,000 members?
  • Growing your audience:
    • Use your existing stakeholders (employees, databases CRM systems)
    • It is critical to use a combination of PR, marketing, comms, POS, collateral and Facebook media – all your customer touch points – it adds a layer of credibility too
    • Building your audience
      • Who are your community members? What kind of profiles do they possess?
      • Your first community members will be amongst your strongest advocates for your brand, product or service
      • Changing needs of communities
        • Your first 1000 members are still going to be there when you have 1,000,000 members – what do they want now?
        • People change. The community “rhythms” change. Know them.


There are more than 2,000,000 teens on Facebook aged between 13-19. Know them, too.


Lesson 5: Know when to shut it down.

  • You need an exist strategy.
  • Truth: you still a retain a degree of control of your community, through planning engagement and conduct.
  • Fallacy: you need it keep it open forever, and that you don’t control your brand.
  • It is okay to close communities: just be open about it and manage their expectations.
  • In fact, all community management is about managing expectations.


NB: generation Z will probably close you first, before you expect.

Jye Smith is currently Senior Vice President, Head of Strategy & Operations, Asia Pacific at Weber Shandwick. Ranked in B&Ts 30 Under 30, Jye a regular keynote speaker and workshop facilitator who specialises in digital and social media strategist.

There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Pingback: » Jye Smith on social media, digital media and story telling - A Digital Perspective
  2. Greg Lexiphanic at 2:03 pm

    Great advice in here Jye; love the way it’s organised. Awesome points.

    One criticism I have is that I think it’d be better served titled as “5 Lessons in Social Media” or something along those lines. The focus here is on social media strategy, planning and engagement, not community management.

    Social media is a tool of online community management; not the other way around.