An Interview with Erica McGillivray - Sr. Community Manager At Moz - Blurbpoint
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Posted by Shubham Tiwari

June 18, 2015

Expert Interview 24 min read

An Interview with Erica McGillivray – Sr. Community Manager At Moz

Erica McGillivray spends a ridiculous amount of time being geeky, both professionally and personally. At Moz, she’s the senior community manager, wrangling 500,000+ people and co-running their annual conference MozCon. Erica also is a founder of GeekGirlCon, is a published author, and has a comic book collection that’s an earthquake hazard. Follow her at @emcgillivray.

 

Shubham:
Can you please describe your journey of Moz which we knew nothing about it?

Erica =>
I’m not really sure how many Moz secrets there are given our TAGFEE value, Transparency. We even publish a yearly report on our company’s profit and losses.

While it’s certainly no secret, one of the biggest contributors to Moz’s success is our community. SEOmoz started out as a blog, primarily our founder Rand Fishkin just recording what he was learning about this newfangled thing called SEO. Other people, who were in the same boat, joined in. From there, we decided to further invest in education of the community and decided to change our focus from consulting to selling the software we’d built to help our clients. Our community has been there all along: celebrating in the good times and rallying with us in the tougher days.

Shubham:
What’s your daily routine? How you update yourself to be an excellent community manager?

Erica =>
Answering a lot of email. No, in all seriousness, community management means you chat with a ton of people across the world in a lot of mediums. It’s important for me to keep up with what’s happening at Moz; what’s happening in the greater SEO community; and what’s happening in the field of community management.

For checking in with Moz, we use email, Slack (group IM), JIRA (project management software), and of course meetings.

For the SEO and digital marketing industry, reading the Moz Blog and keeping up with our Q&A forum is essential. I recently started using Nuzzle, which curates highly shared articles in your social media circles. This has greatly helped ensure that I don’t miss any huge news, especially during vacations or those times when buckling down on projects. I also typically attend at least two SEO conferences and then MozCon every year.

For community management, I’m a big fan of FeverBee’s educational resources. The Twitter hashtag #cmgr is also one I follow. I also love attending conferences like CMX, SPRINT, and UserConf in order to meet and discuss community management with other community managers.

Shubham:
Share some tips for encouraging audience engagement through community? And which social platform you use or suggest for community building?

Erica =>
Being authentic and empathetic in your communications, products, and your community will bring people in. Your brand needs to have a greater why, and you need to be providing something people actually want, not just talking about how cool you are. A lot of brands make the mistake of thinking if they put a forum or start a social media account and solely talk about their products that people will want to come out. You need to figure out what people actually care about in your space. At Moz, our community efforts from day one have focused on education about online marketing. That’s what our community cares about. Even those who enjoy our products would never be on our site if we only talked about products.

For platforms, you need to figure out what works best for your brand. Is there a niche space? Do you have the bandwidth to build something on your own site? Is using social media only too much of a risk because you don’t have control over the platform? There’s no blanket answer for any brand interested in starting a community.

Shubham:
How you handle negative about your brand? It could be negative people, negative comments, negative blog posts, etc?

Erica =>
Honestly, you have a take a step back, and unless it’s a true brand emergency, not worry too much about it. They say it takes 5 compliments to override how 1 negative comment feels to us.

All that said: you do need to respond to negative comments. It’s important for community managers to have guidelines about how to deal with these comments. At Moz, we use our TAGFEE principles. If people are upset, we try to approach these comments with empathy and in the shoes of that person. It’s always important to address someone’s feelings as well as whatever the issue is. I may not be able to fix the problem for that customers, if it’s say an engineering problem, but I can keep them update on the situation, apologize for the troubles it’s caused them, and thank them for being patient.

Shubham:
As you was SEO/SEM specialist, what do you think about SEO? How it should be done in current time?

Erica =>
Best practices for SEO have always been what serves your customers best. Organizing your information and building content for humans has always been where it’s at. It makes me sad that until Google put algorithm penalties in for SEOs taking quick cheats, that wasn’t SEO’s tune.

I’m not a rule breaker, especially when breaking the rules can be harmful for customers or the business that I’m working for. SEO shortcuts and secrets to rank higher with smoke and mirrors were never my thing.

Shubham:
Let’s have one funny question, who is the most entertaining person in MOZ team & how he/she entertain you all?

Erica =>
One person who always makes me laugh is our engineer Big Data manager Martin. Martin’s ongoing joke is that he can never quite get people’s names correct. (And when our office has grown from 40 people in 2011 to 154 people in 2015, keeping up with people’s name is hard work!) For a long time, Martin called me “Doctor Who lady,” due to my fondness of the TV show.

I’ve dubbed Martin as our unofficial social cruise director as he always works to get everyone out and together after work and makes it easier to feel like part of the greater team.

Shubham:
Final question – To whom you want give credit for your success? And who inspire you the most to be in this field?

Erica =>
Like many SEOs, my career really began reading the Moz blog and what Rand Fishkin (and my future colleagues) were discovering and figuring out about this world of SEO. Our digital marketing space is unique because it didn’t exist when we were children and thinking of what we would be when we grew up. When I was a child, I wanted to be a veterinarian, an astronaut, or president. SEOs have a DIY sensibility, which aligns with the hard work anyone must put into their career. I learned a lot of what I know by building websites, taking on new projects, researching them, and seeing what worked.

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