The First Chief Community Officer
Her professional backstory is a fascinating look at the history of our profession, including early BBS days at Apple, the transition to the World Wide Web and the evolution of community for business. Plus:
- The opportunity of real-time messaging
- Apple’s place as a pioneer in using digital community tools for business
- Should community professionals aspire to the CCO title?
“A lot of people don’t know about The WELL. If you talk to a lot of people now, they think this all started with Facebook.” -@JennaWoodul
“I was just kind of blown away by the potential of [online community]. I couldn’t stop yammering about it when I was at Apple. Sometimes that was well-received and sometimes it was just completely ignored. I was on fire with the whole idea and that had to do somewhat with my own experience with it. I had had so much fun meeting different people online. They’d really changed my ideas about the people that I might be friends with or the ages of people or where they might live or any of those kinds of things. The utility of it, our being able to support people online, was amazing to me. I love that.” -@JennaWoodul
“I think bots are important. Particularly with people’s permission, they can be used. I can even see situations where you’re talking to a human agent in a real-time situation, and they say, ‘Well, I think I can help solve this problem by using this little bot over here. Do you mind if I set that up for you? And then I’ll come back and check on you.'” -@JennaWoodul
“I think [having a chief community officer] means that the organization views their constituency as a community. If you think about Peter [Friedman, LiveWorld CEO] coming up with that title, it was a lot of foresight to see that that’s really what this was about. It wasn’t about chief online chat officer or chief online message board manager. It had to do with an understanding, an intuition that this was about a set of relationships that form a community.” -@JennaWoodul
“Social media, or the forming of relationships with one’s customers, isn’t necessarily something that’s going to stay [as a separate department]. … Whatever kind of business that you’re going to be doing with people, it becomes another way to do it, and it’s not necessarily something that’s separate from other parts of the organization.” -@JennaWoodul
About Jenna Woodul
Jenna Woodul is the executive vice president and chief community officer at LiveWorld. They help large companies improve their customer experience using social media. Jenna led various community efforts at Apple from the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s, including AppleLink and eWorld. When Apple pulled the plug on eWorld, she helped start LiveWorld.
In order of reference:
- Ashley Cooksley
- Rosemary O’Neill
- David Williams
- Rebecca Newton
- Amrita Bhowmick
- Vassar College
- Allison Leahy
- Community Signal episode with Allison Leahy
- AppleLink Wikipedia page
- Steve Case
- The WELL
- eWorld Wikipedia page
- Jake McKee
- Peter Friedman
- Video demonstrating LiveWorld’s new real-time conversation management tool
- Facebook Wants You to Chat With Business Bots
- Community Management Professionals: Don’t Sell Yourselves (or Your Careers) Short by Patrick
- Bill Johnston
- Meet Jenna Woodul, the First Chief Community Officer by Patrick
- John Coate
00:04: Welcome to Community Signal, the podcast for online community professionals. Here’s your host, Patrick O’Keefe.
00:16 Patrick O’Keefe: Hello and thank you for listening to Community Signal. I’m fresh off a road trip through North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama where I connected with a number of folks in the community industry including Ashley Cooksley of Emoderation, Rosemary O’Neill of Hoop.la, David Williams of CNN, Rebecca Newton and Lynn Davis of SuperAwesome and Amrita Bhowmick of Health Union. It was a great trip and it was great to see everyone and to talk shop which is what I’ll be doing with today’s guest, Jenna Woodul. Jenna is the executive vice president and chief community officer at LiveWorld. They help large companies improve their customer experience using social media. Jenna led various community efforts at Apple from the mid 1980s to the mid 1990s including AppleLink and eWorld. When Apple pulled the plug on eWorld, she helped start LiveWorld. Jenna, welcome to the program.
00:58 Jenna Woodul: I’m very happy to be here. Thank you Patrick.
01:00 Patrick O’Keefe: It’s so great to have you. You know you’re such a wonderful veteran in this space and someone I have a lot of respect for so I really appreciate you taking the time.
01:06 Jenna Woodul: Well, I’m glad to do it.
01:09 Patrick O’Keefe: So, you’re the second Vassar College alum in three episodes, as Fitbit director of community, Allison Leahy who I had on a couple of episodes ago, also went to Vassar. There seems to be a lot of community talent coming out of that school.
01:20 Jenna Woodul: Yeah, I can think of a couple more people too but actually it surprises me even that you say that is I’ve never really connected the two particularly. [chuckle]
01:30 Patrick O’Keefe: Yeah, it’s something that I do when I have people on the show, I notice certain trends in education or background. We’ve had a fair number of journalism people, we’ve had a fair number of liberal arts majors and I don’t know if it’s a coincidence but I like to point those things out as I find them interesting. So before the show you told me that your start in a community was purely a lucky accident that you didn’t even know what online meant when you were assigned to the project that would become AppleLink. AppleLink, Personal Edition was Apple’s online service that ran for eight plus years or so through the mid ’90s and it included most importantly for our purpose, public bulletin boards. Tell me about community at Apple in the 1980s.
02:10 Jenna Woodul: Well, this was 1984 when I started there and as it happened, I was a writer in the sales support group and someone said, “We’re starting something new and we want you to come over and you need to hire a staff of writers and pull together all the non-technical information at Apple and we’re gonna put it online.” And yeah, I had no idea what that meant at that time, there was only a very basic sort of email system at Apple and not everyone used it. It was for the area associates there and really I don’t think online was something that…
02:49 Patrick O’Keefe: It wasn’t even in the vernacular, like it wasn’t a thing.
02:52 Jenna Woodul: Exactly, it wasn’t in the vernacular. So as we began to do this thing and I began to see what it was because we would pull together this information sort of hand it over and then the next thing you know, it was fed back to us online, and we began to see what it is that we’re doing here. And AppleLink was the first or maybe it was one of the first, I think it was the first graphical online system and it had little icons, you know that could click and you could go and look at different kinds of information. But even at that time at the beginning I thought of it, I’ll speak for myself, primarily as content that we were putting out there for the convenience of people who were in the Apple community.
03:35 Jenna Woodul: And as we began to launch it and we saw… We had divided all this information up into databases but also put it onto separate bulletin boards at the time. And each bulletin board had a kind of manager of that from the department at Apple that it corresponded to. And it began to be real interesting to see the differences in those bulletin boards depending on what their reason for existence was, whether they were Apple business customer focused, they were Apple education focused? Were they VAR focused? Were they employee focused? And that begin to really make sense in my mind that these things were affected by the culture of the people that they pertain to and by the people who were running them. And I begun to notice that you could convey a certain kind of personality along with that.
04:37 Jenna Woodul: So then when it was suggested that we do a similar kind of online system for Apple consumers, was also had a support orientation, that was a first time that we were introduced to real time communication online. And by that time we had a pretty good sense of this community thing or of the separate Apple communities in any event. But in this case, this was a co-marketed product with Quantum computers, which was Steve Case’s company. And they had been doing Quantum Link for some time. And that introduced or gelled for me at least the idea of 24/7 programming where you were actually having things for people to do, things going on all day long and it took me a little bit to get used to that, is a whole different thing. That was kind of the way it evolved in my experience at Apple.
05:44 Patrick O’Keefe: And there is all this great internet history here, you mentioned Quantum Link and Steve Case, I think he was vice president of marketing and he becomes CEO of AOL years later and AOL was really a version of AppleLink as they developed it and maintained some rights to it and so they launched a version for PC and Mac and called that America Online and it becomes this business but AppleLink is a precursor to that. And when people talk about pioneering online communities, and BBS especially, obviously The WELL comes up. But I’ve never heard anyone mentioned Apple, not even in the case of let’s say pioneering corporate community. Do you think that Apple should be mentioned in our conversation?
06:23 Jenna Woodul: Well, it’s interesting, The WELL is a whole different story in itself.
06:27 Patrick O’Keefe: Right.
06:28 Jenna Woodul: And strangely enough it kind of figures in my story too a little later but I think it was very important what Apple did. I think that a lot of people don’t know about it. And a lot of people don’t know about The WELL, Patrick. I mean if you talk to a lot of people now, they think this all started with Facebook.
06:46 Jenna Woodul: Right?
06:47 Patrick O’Keefe: Yeah. You know you’re not wrong. You’re not wrong, that’s for sure. But I’ve been in this space for a little while myself and one of the things that I really like to to do is to make newer professionals. And it’s sometimes older folks, sometimes younger folks, people are entering this industry from all different walks of life. And sort of make them aware of not only people that came before them, but also communities that came before them. And so I think it’s kind of fun to talk about those things and think about how Apple fits in that because I can’t consider myself, maybe an amateur historian. [chuckle] There’s a lot probably I’m missing in the community story but when it comes to corporations using BBSes, it seems like Apple was pretty early, honestly from the stories I’ve read and the things you’ve said.
07:25 Jenna Woodul: It was very early and I wish that Apple had done more with it. I think that it could have, had they not gotten it out of the contract with AOL. Had they kept that product for example, that could’ve, of course, been a much more viable product for Apple and be associated with Apple. As it was at that point the strategy had shifted and the idea was to get out of that co-marketing contract and of course, the rest is history or on the AOL side. Interestingly, when we went to launch eWorld we put out an RFP for software on which to run eWorld and ended up licensing back the same software that we had… I say we, I wasn’t developing obviously but that Apple had developed with the people at Quantum. We licensed that back and ran eWorld on it. So very long and interesting history together there.
08:24 Patrick O’Keefe: Do you think when Apple ended eWorld, when they stepped away from that project, was there a negative consequence for business – did Apple become, I don’t know, scared of doing that type of online community thing? Was there a reluctance to do that? Obviously, now they have these big support community forums. They’ve had them for many years. Jake McKee just got hired over there to lead that. He’s gonna do a great job, I’m sure, but did it feel like Apple was kind of cutting off community at that time? How did you feel about the company when they made that move?
08:51 Jenna Woodul: Yeah. At that time, it wasn’t the most shining moment at Apple at that time.
08:57 Patrick O’Keefe: No.
08:58 Jenna Woodul: So I think the idea was to go to the internet to gradually abandon this effort and go to the internet. But in terms of the consumer effort which was eWorld, they just pulled the plug on it on March 31st, 1996. And we started Talk City at midnight. The minute that they pulled the plug, we started Talk City on the internet. We had to teach people how to get on the internet, because if you remember how the AOL software works, which is what we used for eWorld, you have your software and you put it in your computer and then you boot it up, right?
09:34 Patrick O’Keefe: Right.
09:35 Jenna Woodul: But it was not that easy to get on the internet at that time. So in the weeks leading up to this, we spent a lot of time teaching the people who were members of eWorld how to get on to the internet. Apple was very supportive of that. They were closing down a community, that’s a community problem, right?
09:55 Patrick O’Keefe: Right.
09:55 Jenna Woodul: So they were very supportive of that and us moving forward. So at that time, no, they had no intention of continuing community but things changed later and things do.
10:05 Patrick O’Keefe: Yeah. I was thinking about this before the show and AOL kind of ran with a certain model and had this big rise and then this massive fall. It’s never really been the same. Apple’s more or less bigger than ever. So it’s hard to argue, [chuckle] I guess the financial end result, of course, there’s a lot of working parts and a lot of things that contributed to that. As you kinda mention and reference that time was difficult for Apple, years before sort of the return of Steve Jobs, and the renaissance of the company. But it’s just interesting to think about that in the context of kind of community business history, you kind of transitioned with Talk City to the internet. And they could’ve maybe done that but it’s kind of an interesting business case of, “Okay, this isn’t working so we’re gonna stop doing that.” And something that, as you allude to, they kind of return to years later. Even though Apple has always had sort of a… I don’t know, eclectic might be kind, reserved relationship with social media and with online community and well-known for their secrecy. It’s just kind of a really interesting business that sort of, I don’t know, bucks a lot of trends in some ways. So 20 years ago last month, you left Apple and joined this new thing, LiveWorld.
11:10 Jenna Woodul: Yeah.
11:11 Patrick O’Keefe: And Talk City was sort of the big thing then, itself a notable chat community that I remember hearing about when I was younger. Now, at that point you leave Apple, what’s your mindset? What does community as a profession even mean in 1996?
11:25 Jenna Woodul: Well, to me I was just kind of blown away by the potential of it. And I couldn’t stop yammering about it when I was at Apple. And sometimes that was well received and sometimes it was just completely ignored. And I was on fire with the whole idea and that had to do somewhat with my own experience with it. I had had so much fun meeting different people online. They’d really changed my ideas about the people that I might be friends with or the ages of people or where they might live or any of those kinds of things, the utility of it, our being able to support people online was amazing to me, I love that. Peter was one of those people, Peter Friedman, my co-founder of LiveWorld, was one of those people who did listen, and who did agree, and just completely understood this idea, the potential and where this kind of thing could go. And so he did not have deaf ears from the beginning when I was talking about this and he responded with the authority and power that he had at that time at Apple – he was in charge of internet services at Apple. And we began to talk but when it came down to it and they closed eWorld, for me it was just kind of, well, am I willing to put my money where my mouth is? And my money at that point was whatever the package was that Apple had given me. I would take mine and Peter would take his and we would see what we could do.
13:00 Jenna Woodul: There were a lot of people who had become very attached. Well, it doesn’t seem like a lot of people now but at the time there were 100s of people people who had become chat hosts in eWorld and really, really loved it. And they were enthusiastic also about it and sent us notes saying, “If you’re gonna do something, let us know, and we did, and they did. So when we opened up Talk City, we already had I think it was 100 programed chats per week and of course it was open 24/7. And it always had a very, very good reputation because we had all these hosts who worked there and who were very committed to the quality of the conversation that went on there and that kind of thing. From the very beginning, we began to provide services for companies and that was the beginning of how we got started with what is LiveWorld today.
13:53 Patrick O’Keefe: Yeah, 100s of people, if you consider the rate of internet adoption, let’s say and consider that as a rate of inflation like people do with currency, so you think of that as a 100 people back in 1996 inflated by internet adoption, it’s probably thousands. Probably like having thousands today so that’s definitely not a small number. And it’s interesting because LiveWorld, being 20 years old now, and as you mentioned offering services to companies from what sounds like the very start, it seems like it’s a company that was possibly a little before its time. And a lot of those companies go away. So it’s interesting that the company has sort of lived through what is a boom in community management. I don’t know if we’re at the top of it now or if there’s more to go, there’s certainly more that we can do in the community space and there’s plenty of room for growth. But a company that had services that maybe a lot of people think didn’t want at the time, or didn’t know they wanted yet, or would one day need, so I think that’s really interesting.
14:45 Jenna Woodul: Yeah, that is definitely true. We started started out with an ad-based model and we did have a lot of ads but we also always provided these services and a lot of the services were the community management of message board, forum communities. And then also chat programming which we would do for these large companies and we would host it for them, and we also did those auditorium chats, similar to the ones that AOL had on their software. But of course this was a internet auditorium. So yeah, we did a lot of that but, people were in ‘trying it out mode’ and not necessarily committed to it. A lot of the competitors that we had then or even over the next 10, 15 years, I don’t even remember their names anymore. Because we have lasted through ups and downs in a situation where a lot of people have not been able to accommodate the conditions.
15:47 Jenna Woodul: But we’ve kind of managed things conservatively to the extent that we can do that and we have as time changes, as technology changes, we have sort of kept our point of view, if you will, which is always around that dialogue and relationships and the power of that and what can happen as a result of that authentic dialogue with people. But the platforms come and go, what’s on the rise, what’s not, that all changes. Interestingly, chat was big for us that was our main thing, I think was chat. But now we’re coming around again to where this real-time messaging, this real-time conversational thing is what’s on the rise and we love that, right in our wheel house.
16:39 Patrick O’Keefe: Yeah and last month LiveWorld released a new conversation management software and from talking to you, I know there’s a lot that you’re thinking about and you’re excited about real-time messaging and a lot of community work is asynchronous and we like it that way. So what do you think is the opportunity for community professionals? How should they be thinking about real-time messaging?
17:00 Jenna Woodul: Well, it can be resource intensive, right? Because once you start it, you’re there and you have to respond to people and you don’t just have the opportunity to sit back and think things through. So you have to think about the resources that are involved in that, but the opportunity is really big because it’s one thing to have an asynchronous conversation with someone which can be satisfying and certainly can be helpful, particularly in the area of customer support, people get massive amounts of information from looking on forums where other people have had the same problems and so on. But the opportunity that you have when you’re talking directly to an individual, to either fix their problem, or intuit their need, and see if you can fill it, and just essentially communicate empathy and interest and help them in an intelligent way.
18:00 Jenna Woodul: That’s a very very big opportunity and one that is very valuable to brands and so I think that as people move that direction with their own online activities. Certainly everybody with their phone in their hands are clearly their moving toward messaging and with the people that they have relationships with and so it makes every sense in the world that companies would be right there at their finger tips in real-time. And so it’s a challenge from the staffing point of view sometimes but people can start it out at a limited fashion and still provide a satisfactory experience for customers.
18:40 Patrick O’Keefe: And it looks like from what I watched, I watched video that Peter Friedman posted about it, about the software. Looks like it’s really aimed at drawing in real-time messaging from several different platforms into a single dashboard and making it easier to sort of stay on top of it as oppose to keeping tabs on various platforms.
18:57 Jenna Woodul: Yeah, well that’s the vision, we don’t have all of it at this very moment, right? But as we add this platforms on, yes.
19:05 Patrick O’Keefe: People have been talking a lot about bots recently, especially in a real-time setting. I mean bots in communities. What’s your take on just bots as a service, as a part of real-time messaging, as a part of customer service? What’s the downside there? Are you excited about that? What do you think about it?
19:22 Jenna Woodul: Yeah, well bots are helpful. We used bots even back in Talk City.
19:26 Patrick O’Keefe: Right.
19:27 Jenna Woodul: People use bots in IRC way back in the old days, but why are they helpful? They’re helpful because they allow people to be having more meaningful conversations or doing more meaningful things, but they just make it easier. So do I wanna go into a completely bot kind of interaction? Well, it depends on what I’m trying to do, right? I mean if I just wanna know the weather, then yeah, I do wanna go because I’m busy. And if I’ve got the weather on Facebook Messenger as they were introducing a couple of weeks ago at F8, “Yeah, I wanna go in there,” but if I’m trying to order something or I have a problem with a product or even have a pre-purchased question about something, a bot might be useful to get my basic information to run me through a support script, but I need to have a button so that I can call a human being to deal with. We know this, for heaven’s sakes, we know this from phone support, and we’ve all had that experience of yelling into the phone, “Agent, agent, agent,” because none of the options are available that are gonna help us in the situation that we are. Of course, it’s very annoying and very not satisfying. [chuckle]
20:46 Jenna Woodul: So yeah, I think bots are important. They can be used, and particularly, with people’s permission, they can be used. I can even see situations where you’re talking to a human agent in a real-time situation, and they say, “Well, I think I can help solve this problem by using this little bot over here. Do you mind if I set that up for you? And then I’ll come back and check on you.” That kind of thing. So yeah, bots are important. We’re gonna see a lot of really interesting kinds of things come up as people begin to develop them. And so, I’m excited about those. I’m excited about how they can be used. And the way that we always wanna use them is as a support to a conversation when conversations are needed.
21:31 Patrick O’Keefe: I love that you talked about permission because I think everything you said is totally on the mark. People are talking about bots right now because like you said the Facebook news and people are talking about it in community a lot right now but like you, I take sort of a long-term view, like bots as a thing are not new. And so I wrote a book 10 years ago about forums and I wrote about posting bots in it and IRC bots have been around, and chat bots, and all of those things. So, it’s interesting. Good automation is good, bad automation is bad. I mean if it makes your life harder, then it’s bad. If it slows you down, if it’s a less than optimal experience, it’s awful. But if it’s equal to or better than the experience you would otherwise receive, then it’s worth considering.
22:08 Patrick O’Keefe: But the big thing is, I think there’s an ethics question that people should be aware when they’re talking to a bot. So, it’s tough when you, when we talk about building relationships and conversation if people talk to a bot and they think they’re talking to a real person but they find out otherwise, I feel there’s gonna be a reaction to that, that there might be delight. Maybe someone’s like, “Oh, that’s funny ha-ha.” But there’s gonna be some people out there who are like, “I feel kinda weird about that. I thought I was talking to a real person and you kinda flipped the script on me.” So I really think that permission is a great topic that people should think about with regard to this conversation.
22:39 Jenna Woodul: Yeah, and I think, explanation. People get used to this because we get used to these things as we use them more and more but when you first go into a situation, you have to be given a clue on how this works, right? So, I think that a part of what you do is say, “Oh, hi. I’m Bob the bot,” or whatever.
23:00 Patrick O’Keefe: [chuckle] Right.
23:00 Jenna Woodul: Type in the words you need and I’ll give you some clues on what these words might be. If you’d like to talk to an agent, you can also do this.
23:09 Patrick O’Keefe: A couple of years ago, I wrote an article about the career path for community professionals. And I mentioned that Bill Johnston was the first person I’d ever seen with the chief community officer title. He told me that he got it from you and you had it from April 1996 and at that time you were kind enough to do this really great interview and I posted an article about that. I’ll link to that in the show notes. But as far as anyone can tell, you’re number one, you’re the first chief community officer. And where did that title come from?
23:34 Jenna Woodul: Well, I think probably came from Peter. I think, when we decided to start the company, he said, “I will be CEO and you’ll be chief community officer”. So I think I would have to give him credit. If I was the first one then I think he was the one who suggested it to me.
23:49 Patrick O’Keefe: It’s an interesting title, it’s one that… I think we talk about on the space maybe more than it actually exists in many places. LinkedIn lists 101 professionals who are currently holding chief community officer as title. Some are focused more on offline community or social responsibility or advocacy, but many are online community-minded. Do you think it’s a title to aspire to? What do you think it means if an organization has one?
24:11 Jenna Woodul: Well, I think it means that the organization views their constituency as a community. And if you think about Peter coming up with that title or having it, I think that it was kind of a lot of foresight to see that that’s really what this was about. It wasn’t about chief online chat officer or chief online message board manager. It had to do with an understanding, an intuition that this was about a set of relationships that form a community. And so, is it something to aspire to? Yes, but as I told you before, social media or the forming of relationships with one’s customers isn’t necessarily something that’s going to stay separate. It feels like it could be just, it becomes another way to be doing business with people, whatever kind of business that you’re going to be doing with people. It becomes another way to do it, and it’s not necessarily something that’s separate from other parts of the organization necessarily. It involves a lot of parts of the organization as you know.
25:22 Patrick O’Keefe: Right, it does. One thing I’ve said before, and maybe you might totally disagree with this so feel free, the idea that social media is a set of tools. Community is a strategy that you apply to tools. And so, what I mean by that is HR uses social media. Marketing uses social media. PR uses social media. Like all these departments use social media to distribute their messaging, you kinda talked about the difference between broadcasting and conversation. And community is sort of a different type of discipline. It’s a strategy, facilitating a space where customers interact with one another, oftentimes. And I guess the overall point is that social media, like a head of social media, or a director of social media. In my view might fall more in line with what you were just describing that it’s a tool that will permeate the organization, and eventually, it’ll be like using the telephone or email. Everyone will be expected to have it as a skill. It’s like putting Microsoft Word on your [chuckle] resume as a skill these days. It’s like you just expect it. You can just take it off there, but community might have a little longer shelf-life because it is sort of its own thing and a strategy and a role and a task onto itself that requires someone to do it. Do you disagree with that totally? Is it off-base? What do you think about that thought?
26:30 Jenna Woodul: Well, it usually does in the way we think of it right now, but… Well, I don’t know the reality of this because I have not worked at Zappos, but if you think of the way they have empowered everyone in their company to work with their customers, it seems like more of an all-encompassing world view of that company rather than something that has to be necessarily watched over by somebody with a title of chief community officer. It just depends on how people implement this, how people envision it, but I think that this kind of a relationship with one’s customers is going to become the way things are done. So I don’t know that we necessarily have a difference here that really just has to do with what is the general bent of the organization, how they see the people that relate to it.
27:25 Patrick O’Keefe: Speaking of job titles, do you remember the first time you heard the term “community manager”? The reason I ask is you mentioned it in relation to your role at eWorld and having it then…
27:32 Jenna Woodul: Definitely community manager at eWorld, but I’m trying to think when I first heard that term.
27:38 Patrick O’Keefe: ‘Cause I don’t know if there is any definitive message on when, or who had that the first time and I was just curious. ’80s, early ’90s? It sounds like early ’90s certainly, unless you were the first who have that one too. [chuckle] It’s kinda interesting how far back it goes.
27:53 Jenna Woodul: Yeah, I don’t know. I can’t remember. That is the title that I had in 1993 when we were putting eWorld together but I did not have that title when I was doing the job that I did at AppleLink. Or AppleLink, Personal Edition. So somewhere in there, I guess somewhere in the 80s. But there’s probably like you never saw that term used at The WELL?
28:18 Patrick O’Keefe: I don’t know. I don’t know if it was used at the WELL. I’d have to ask John Coate.
28:21 Jenna Woodul: John Coate, yeah.
28:23 Patrick O’Keefe: He says he’s the first community manager, I think is what I’ve seen him say before. I don’t know it that means he had the title or just the job function. But yeah, that’s a good point we should probably look into asking him. [chuckle]
28:33 Jenna Woodul: Yeah. I mean, he would know for sure. And in fact, interesting that you bring him up because when I first started trying to put together the community at eWorld, I brought John in sort of as a consultant to help me sort of think about how the community ought to be. Interesting.
28:52 Jenna Woodul: I was on The WELL for a while but I wasn’t really a member of The WELL and certainly not in any kind of founding member but I was on it for a while. But one of the experiences that I had at that time was that… This was sometime in mid ’80s, I guess. My daughter was a late talker and she wasn’t talking at all and I went to the parenting forum on The WELL and I just asked a couple of questions and people just came back with all of this information and all these ideas. They were teachers, they were parents, they were people who knew about services that were available. They knew about testing. They knew… And it was one of those moments for me where I was just overwhelmed by what I could do by just putting out a little word on a place where people were interested in helping.
29:44 Patrick O’Keefe: Jenna, thank you so much for coming on the show and for sharing your experience with us.
29:47 Jenna Woodul: It’s a pleasure Patrick. Thank you for asking me.
29:51 Patrick O’Keefe: We have been talking with Jenna Woodul, executive vice president and chief community officer at LiveWorld. Visit their website at liveworld.com. For the transcript from this episode plus highlights and links that we mentioned, please visit communitysignal.com. You can find me on Twitter @patrickokeefe. Community Signal is produced by Karn Broad. We’ll see you next time.
If you have any thoughts you’d like to share, please feel free to leave me a comment or send me an email or a tweet. If you enjoy the show, we would be grateful if you spread the word.
Thank you for listening to Community Signal.
I think that besides Jenna seeing immediately the potential for community, was her visionary understanding that it wasn’t something you put in the basement and forgot. Community/social needs to be baked in at the start, and the hub of any vibrant organization, no matter what size.
It was a distinct pleasure to work with her at LiveWorld, and she has definitely been one of the top influencers in my two decade career with communities and social media. Through her work, she has influenced many thousands of others, and continues to do so. Kudos!
Thank you for sharing that, Mare!