What is a social media community manager? They’re simultaneously a cheerleader, sponge of information, warrior against spam, strategic analyst to grow the community, a source of help when things go wrong and the voice of a social media community. It’s not just about posting updates to Facebook all day – they’re the glue which connect our customers and staff to other parts of Telstra.

Particularly for those who are interested in how to get a job as a social media community manager, we’ve interviewed some of Telstra’s community managers about their roles.

It’s Community Manager Appreciation Day on Monday, so we thought this was a good opportunity to publish these interviews as a way of profiling (and also thanking) various community managers throughout Telstra.

Denise Osman – Telstra Careers Community Manager

Which social media sites do you manage at Telstra?

With a super talented team supporting and working with me, I manage Telstra Careers Facebook, Telstra Careers Twitter, and the Telstra Careers website (yikes, what a mouthful!). Along with my fellow counterparts in Corporate Affairs, I contribute to the Telstra LinkedIn profile – the big one 😉

Finally – I manage the editorial direction, write, edit and contribute to the Telstra Careers Blog – which I might add, is going to have a brand spanking new layout and format in the coming months; I’m taking advantage of a shameless plug here (but what the hey) – watch this space.

What career path did you take to become a community manager?

I had an epiphany at 25 and decided I wanted a career in media. So, suffice to say, I quit my job and donned backpack – AKA, I went to university. I studied two disciplines, and graduated with a Double Major in Media and Communications, and Literature; I also studied PR. I always knew I wanted to write, but it wasn’t until I was at uni that I realised the power of social media – culturally, and on a global scale. It was changing the way people communicated; dialogues (and monologues – thanks to blogging) had a whole new meaning, the media industry was changing, the people had a voice – more powerful than ever because of the immediate and organic nature of communication these platforms afforded. Community and connection was about shared interest, geographically, there were no bounds.

I focussed my career in the digital space – I wrote for online publications, both creatively and commercially; from blogging, to interviews, features and copywriting gigs, I diversified my skills so that I could appeal to a wide group of organisations as a prospective employee. Before I started this job I was an Online Content Writer at Telstra – where I translated complex copy for a Gen Y audience, basically – I wrote about our products, services and internal processes in a way that was easy-to-digest, and kinda fun to read 😉

Telstra Careers’ Facebook page

What does an average day look like in your role?

Wowee – there’s no such thing as an average day in my job, and that’s the beauty of it. Spontaneity and the curious are injected into my daily life. But, for the purpose of this exercise, on any given day I could be editing or writing copy for our blog, and working with our contributors to plan their posts in the coming weeks. I also make sure all published copy goes through our internal approval process.

I keep regular contact with other community managers in the business, so that we’re across each other’s communications, as well as making sure – as a brand – there’s a unified message.

I’m posting updates and news via our feeds, and having loads of conversations with our audience; I can be chatting to people about their applications or career pathways, or giving interview advice to advanced professionals or newbies fresh out of school. As far as posts go, they’re planned a week in advance, BUT, I’m not tied to them. News needs to be fresh and topical – and given the sheer scale and reach of our organisation, there’s a lot happening. I have to be ready to change my direction at very short notice.

My role is all about communicating a career at Telstra to the big wide world – every word, every message, via every platform. It all boils down to this: we put the customer at the heart of what we do, and we live and breathe it. So for me, it’s about capturing the essence of this through our people, and the rewarding and exciting directions a career at Telstra can take you. And seriously, I’m spoilt for content – Telstra is an awesome place to work, we’re committed to the big stuff, like connecting a nation, working with our communities and doing cool things that matter.

Which topics always seem to get people talking on the sites you manage?

Our people stories – I’m in a very privileged position where I get to talk to people across our huge organisation and learn about what they do; the projects they’re working on, the challenges they face in their roles, and what they love about their career here. I share these stories via our blog, and in all our social media presences, and the reception has been mind-blowing! I mean what better way to learn about a career at Telstra than with the knowledge and anecdotes of our people; I feel proud to be a part of it.

Cassie Bendall – YouTube Community Manager

What social media sites do you manage at Telstra?

Telstra’s YouTube channels.

What career path did you take to become a community manager?

I completed a BA(Hons) Business degree with Marketing after spending some time in the health care industry. I was always interested in technology which I avidly used to develop my artistic and photographic skills whilst studying for my A- levels in the UK. I love creative projects and was lucky enough be involved in some global initiatives that inspired my interest and development within the social media field. I was exposed to the telecommunications company O2 during a year’s internship in London where my passion and interest in online marketing grew even further.

What does an average day look like in your role?

Two days are never the same and this creates the environment for a very exciting and inspiring daily programme. Main daily outputs include the management of the content calendar for YouTube, participating in stakeholder meetings assessing the different YouTube channels and ensuring alignment with internal objectives and agency reporting deliverables, managing the external user activity of the internal video programme and how and where these videos can be leveraged, assisting with general social media inquiries and keeping abreast of upcoming campaigns to identity gaps that can be supported with video content.

Telstra’s YouTube channel

Which topics always seem to get people talking on YouTube?

People don’t really start conversations on YouTube, but the videos which get the most views are often the ‘how to’ product videos, and the help videos eg: International roaming – ‘how to avoid bill shock’.

Dan Michael – Twitter/Facebook/Google+ Community Manager

What social media sites do you manage at Telstra?

I look after three social networks full time – Facebook, Google+ and Telstra_news on Twitter. Keeps me pretty busy!

What career path did you take to become a community manager?

I’ve been working for Telstra for the past 15 years and my career path has been varied along the way which I think gives me a solid knowledge base for the wide ranging variety of topics that get thrown at me every day!

I started part time in South Australia on the phones answering sales queries and worked my way through the business in a range of roles from Workforce Management to Activation and Assurance before taking up a role as an Operations Manager, which then lead me into Communications.

Then I decided I wanted to pursue an academic goal that never got off the ground when I was younger, and completed a Masters Degree in digital media by correspondence which really piqued my interest to get back into a creative role and use all that new found knowledge in the online space.

The role of Community Manager kind of fell in my lap as we kick started our Facebook page back in early 2010, and I just wanted to be involved so badly, I kind of wouldn’t take no for an answer! Sometimes you have to back yourself and make things happen.

Telstra’s Google+ page

What does an average day look like in your role?

The first thing I do on arrival every day is fire up each network and review what has been going on in each channel. This can take a while if there are responses I need to post and follow up information from the previous day.

Then I pretty much surf the news channels and see what is going on in the world for any breaking news that may be relevant to the business. I check the conversation calendar is up to date and then check out the emails. Ahh the emails!

For the most part, the rest is just rinse and repeat while I keep an eye on the three channels throughout the day, posting interesting content and responding to customers.

Of course there are meetings throughout the day that interrupt me, but I keep a pretty full calendar so that I don’t miss a beat!

Which topics always seem to get people talking on the sites you manage?

It differs from each network, for instance I know our Google+ audience lives and breathes anything Android, and our Facebook audience is more interested in having a laugh and a chat with us, while Twitter is definitely more about news that is related to Telstra and the Telco industry. In all though I like to show the human side of the business in social networks, and that we are all just people behind the scenes, just like everyone else.

Ric B – Yammer Community Manager

What social media sites do you manage at Telstra?

I’m the community manager for Telstra’s Yammer network! What’s Yammer? It’s a social business network used internally to improve communications across an organisation’s employee base. You can find out more at Yammer’s website.

Telstra made the decision to work with Yammer following their acquisition by Microsoft last year.

What career path did you take to become a community manager?

My background is actually in IT; I don’t have any formal qualifications in communications or media. What I do have though is a passion for helping others, so I have been fairly active through Telstra’s social channels even before landing the role as community manager. My enthusiasm and broad technical experience was recognised by the recruiting team when the position was created.

Telstra’s internal Yammer social media network

What does an average day look like in your role?

At the moment, way too many meetings! While there are many stakeholders across the company who have an interest in the ongoing Yammer rollout, I’m the central point for co-ordinating all the activity that’s going on. Fortunately I have the support of a great community of staff that I can lean on for assistance. In between the multitude of meetings is when I get the chance I get to do the fun stuff – contributing to conversations, answering questions posed on Yammer, or re-directing them to people who might be able to assist.

Which topics always seem to get people talking on Yammer?

This may be surprising to some, but a lot of the conversations tend to reflect the same sorts of issues being experienced by our customers. Our staff are generally Telstra customers as well, and when we get things wrong with our systems and processes this is reflected in the conversations that occur on Yammer; with staff from across the business talking about how we can fix the issues.

Steph Cittarelli – Cliq Community manager

What social media sites do you manage at Telstra?

I currently manage an internal support community for our Telstra store staff called Cliq. Cliq is really useful for our retail stores to crowd source new ideas, ask questions and spotlight our customer service superstars. I also keep an eye out on Telstra’s other internal social media sites to see if our stores can help or share something with another part of the business.

What career path did you take to become a community manager?

I started work in a Telstra Store and from there pretty much grabbed every opportunity to expand my knowledge, focussing on training and communication to our store teams. I found that because I was so in-tune with our teams in store, I instinctively knew how to best grab their attention and create effective support relationships.

What does an average day look like in your role?

An average day is usually full of conversations! Both online and in-person. Most of our support teams for stores are co-located with me here in our Melbourne office, so if I need a quick answer to something bugging a store, nothing works better than a smile 🙂 A lot of my day is spent responding to questions on the site, and also providing insights about the community for our operational and sales teams.

Telstra’s internal Cliq social media network

Which topics always seem to get people talking on Cliq?

As you can imagine, our store teams are some of the most tech-minded people in the company. They are excited and driven by both new technologies and a passion for helping our customers. Anything Android related seems to fire up the community as well as new and emerging products in Telecommunications. But overall, the most talked about topics are about experiences with our customers, and with each-other. Our stores are a great place to work and learn, and that’s part of what we hope keeps our customers coming back to them!

Yannick – CrowdSupport Community Manager

What social media sites do you manage at Telstra?

CrowdSupport, which is a discussion forum for our customers to discuss our products and seek help and share tips with other customers.

What career path did you take to become a community manager?

Before Telstra I managed a web development company working with small to medium size business developing online solutions. This included developing and building their social media presence. I was also responsible for recruiting and managing the company’s contractors based both in Australia and overseas for design and development work. I joined Telstra in 2011 as the community manager for CrowdSupport, Telstra’s peer to peer community.


What does an average day look like in your role?

  • Emails
  • Verify some of the responses on the site marked as “Community Accepted Solutions”, which means that someone has posted a solution to someone else’s problem
  • Assign Kudos to members
  • Emails
  • Project Meetings
  • CrowdSupport initiatives & projects
  • Monitor Telstra’s Facebook, Whirlpool, Twitter and Telstra Exchange for trending topics
  • Chase up responses to CrowdSupport posts

Which topics always seem to get people talking on CrowdSupport?

Device updates and when they’re being released.

Stephen Drawbridge – Social Media Customer Care

What social media sites do you manage at Telstra?

I manage customer care on Telstra’s 24×7 Facebook page and the @Telstra Twitter account. These channels operate round the clock to meet our customers’ needs.

What career path did you take to become a community manager?

The long one 🙂 I started as a consultant working in an online call centre. My initial aspirations were to work in the Social Media team with a mid-term goal to become a leader in the space. Two years later, the opportunity to more specifically manage a community became available. The progression was a natural one.

Telstra’s 24×7 Facebook page

What does an average day look like in your role?

The environments are 24×7, meaning my days always start with reading the activity overnight. I like to focus on the contributions made by some of our more active users and also review what the these users have identified as potential concerns within the community – engagement is a big part of what I see as being a success in the role. The rest of my day involves working out ways to drive activity and implementing these into the community successfully. The channels are service orientated which provides many opportunities to get involved in managing complex customer issues.

Which topics always seem to get people talking on the sites you manage?

Anything service orientated. From sales to activation of services to coverage and billing concerns – we see them all.

Leigh Price – Telstra Exchange Community Manager

What social media sites do you manage at Telstra?

Telstra Exchange, the blog you’re reading right now.

What career path did you take to become a community manager?

Like many other community managers in Telstra, my background lies in customer service. I soon began assisting with the FAQs on Telstra’s website. Later, I became the community manager for an internal website at Telstra called T-Ideas, where staff can suggest ideas for anything to do with Telstra. Quite recently I changed roles to work on Telstra Exchange.

What does an average day look like in your role?

Moderating all pending comments which have been left on the blog, and reaching out to any customers who need some extra assistance. I spend a lot of time working with our corporate affairs team to make sure we’re working on blogs about upcoming Telstra initiatives and coordinating other Telstra staff to write blog posts for the site. I also spend a lot of time looking into analytics for the site to see what posts are resonating with our readers, which helps drive our content strategy. We have some pretty interesting new regular posts planned for 2013 based on this.

What topics always seem to get people talking on the sites you manage?

Any of the how-to posts – people seem to like jumping in with their own additional tips. New phone announcements also generate a lot of conversation.