A social app lives and breathes social media
SoundCloud is the world’s leading social sound platform where anyone can create sounds and share them everywhere.
With their product literally built as a social media platform, you’d expect the SoundCloud team to be social natives. They are. So much so that their approach is completely natural and ad hoc rather than over-thought.
The seven-person community team is the voice of the company on social channels – and the first responders for customer service issues. The content firehose that is SoundCloud is aimed every day at “BTTF”: Blog, tumblr, Twitter and Facebook. And the investment pays dividends.
At the time of writing, SoundCloud has over 440,000 followers on Twitter – engaging with things like the SoundCloud of the Day (#SCOTD) and the crowd-sourced Soundcloud Multimix. The Facebook page has earned over 950,000 likes. Local volunteers act as network ambassadors. And artists like SnoopDog, 50 Cent, Britney Spears and Madonna have all engaged with SoundCloud.
On Twitter: @soundcloud
On Facebook: SoundCloud on Facebook
David Noel, Community Manager @Soundcloud
Can you describe your approach to social media?
Social Media is a very important element at Soundcloud. It's native to us and heavily integrated in our soundsharing concept.
We have a very social-media savvy user base that's interested in reaching the right target audiences. Three years ago, when I joined, we started with Twitter and our blog, which we just used to announce new features or product news.
We’re in a very lucky position. Content creation is not a problem for us at all. We find great stories all the time. The content creates itself. All we do is curate it. There are plenty of success stories out there so all the content comes organically to us.
So how does it work internally? Who does what?
We have a community and marketing team. The marketing team is more product and behaviour-oriented. They are more 'data-inspired' and focus on things like exhibitions, ads, etc.
We, in the community team, are the voice of the company. We communicate with the audience. We are 7 people on the team and there are two types of communications: the reactive and proactive.
The reactive part is the modern version of customer service. We personally communicate when there are any issues. The proactive part focuses on community development.
For example, we organise real meet-ups (Last time around 900 people showed up). We also do things for our ‘network ambassadors’ or publish the Sound Cloud of the Day. All this helps keep the community engaged.
Who are these network ambassadors?
This is a pretty recent initiative. The idea is that we look for volunteers on a local level to help us share the Soundcloud vision and mission.
We saw that there are people in the SoundCloud community that are stepping up, that are really good at engaging with others and at connecting. These are the network ambassadors. They help us to transport the SoundCloud message. At the moment we focus on the US region and found our first five ambassadors in New York, Chicago, Austin and San Francisco. And we’ll organise weekends for the ambassadors to meet up.
How did you identify the ambassadors?
We use the Soundcloud community as our main reference. So when we think of extending our community in Montreal for example, we look who is out there, who would be a good multiplier when there’s news to announce.
We don't look at how many followers a person has on Twitter or Facebook. That's important but our main objective is to find people that can share the SoundCloud message on a local level.
So far the feedback has been great. We’ve received hundreds of applications from different cities around the world. We’re focused now on the larger cities in the U.S. to learn, and if it goes well, we’ll think about a global expansion.
What does customer service mean @ Soundcloud?
Our main goal is to make the Soundcloud experience personal. Every community manager has access to all social channels meaning that he or she can react immediately.
We see negative comments as a sanity check. We embrace them because they help us get better. It can go in both directions, but we try to go out there and try to flip negative experiences into positive ones. Ideally, a person complaining about SoundCloud comes back after an hour and says how great the customer service at SoundCloud is.
Again, we live on the web so every manager has the mandate to turn things around. We are very open in our communications in the community. We don't have a social media policy but we train our community managers at the beginning. We look for people with empathy when we recruit so that these things come to them naturally.
Which social channels do you use and what has been your experience so far?
We are still a start-up so we need to be careful about which channels we use. We can't use them all as that would be too time-consuming.
Internally, when there's something that needs to go out I ask whether we've done a BTTF around a certain post. BTTF stands for Blog, Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook. Sometimes there is a D as well – for our own SoundCloud dashboard.
Facebook works really well for us. We have nearly a million likes now. The good thing about Facebook is that an audio piece can be played in Facebook itself. Tumblr is developing in an interesting way too and Twitter is good for announcements and spreading news. We also tried Google+ but we’re not sure yet whether this is something for us.
You also collaborate with artists. I read that SnoopDog looked for a local background singer via Soundcloud?!
Yes, artists like SnoopDog, 50 cent, Britney Spears and Madonna approached us. They saw the value in the product, our services and the possible reach. We think it's great. We encourage collaboration very much and are happy to see that all kinds of artists find use in Soundcloud.
Three years ago you had 10,000 followers on twitter. Today you have nearly 400,000. How does that feel?
I haven't found the time yet to reflect on the growth. It amazes me how much a post can touch someone in so many different ways. I mean it's great how the new Shins album can touch people as much as a father playing his son's first recording. When we started we didn't have a strategy. We just post what we think is interesting. I guess what we’re experiencing is the snowball effect. We keep posting every day when we think it matters, so very it’s very much an organic thing.
#Social Success Lessons
- Identify and reward your most active social ambassadors.
- Don’t shy away from taking things offline with real-world meet-ups.
- Decide on the best channels and do them well.
- Consider a separate community team that works in parallel with marketing.
- Think of negative social feedback as a ‘reality check’ and learn from it.
Read about more of our Social Heroes.